Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's not about the 99... it's about the 1

Do you think there is MORE rejoicing in heaven over finding ONE stray sheep than over the whole church getting smarter through Bibles study, having better marriages, having great children's programs, and all the rest of the stuff the 99 do for themselves?

Would you support your pastor if he said, "Don't come to service this week unless you come with a lost sheep over your shoulders?"

Do you think it's about the 99? About you and your Christian friends...the 99? Or is it about them, the 1?

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing." (Luke 15:4,5)

Our problem isn't new. In Ezekiel's time he gave a pointed, heart wrenching observation that is still very true today. He said that the church had fed herself, had become fat and the lost sheep were wandering the hills with no one looking. (Ez 34:1-6) But the power of the appeal was not that it came from Ezekiel but that it was from our loving God, and for Him... it was personal.

"My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them."

It's not about us, we're fat enough... it's about them.

(To hear the 9/27 Gathering message "The 99 or the 1?" click HERE)

Monday, September 21, 2009

New scorecard, Old gameplan

The following five minute piece is a conversation we had at Hope Church in Tupelo, Mississippi about community ministry. There is a shift from missions projects and outreaches to long-term relationships, weekly commitments that are just as important to the person of faith as the weekly meeting for worship or the weekly small group meeting of teaching.

This vital shift has taken place as churches and ministries like Crosswind and others have begun to see their own community as just as valid and vital of a mission field as anywhere in the whole world. The shift is taking place all over the church as Christians everywhere realize that there are significant unreached pockets right here in our own community. Also, the community problems (drug use, single parents, unmarried sex, disease, poverty, dropout rate, etc) are rising in nearly every community.

And the obvious question is: Why isn't the church making an impact in our culture?

We believe that Christians have gone to the neighborhood to make converts, but not disciples... it takes a different strategy, a different game plan and a different scorecard.


Friday, September 18, 2009

It takes a village...

Just using the infamous phrase that made many scream is risky but she might have been on to something...

"It takes a village to raise a child" is what Hillary Clinton suggested. Many said that what she meant by that was a shirking of parental responsibility and 'government handout' of care was needed to raise a child. Of course, if that's what she meant... well, lets not go there.

However, God does push responsibility past the front door of the house, especially for certain children... like the fatherless.

And just who is the fatherless anyway? It really is important to figure that out you know. Some say if a person has a living father they are not fatherless. They say let the father take responsibility for their offspring. But here's the question... what if they don't? and won't? Is the child fatherless now? Check in with child... would they say they are fatherless?

Isn't it true that if we don't say they are fatherless then we don't feel responsible?

I know that stings a little. I used to think that way too. But I've seen the church make every excuse in the world for not reaching people, for not defending the defenseless, caring for single moms (they're not REAL widows), helping those who need it (they made the bed, they can sleep in it), and for not caring for children who are not being raised with a father in the home.

1. God thinks these people are vulnerable. 2. He told us to help them. 3. They need our help.

Stop making excuses.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Missionaries do weird stuff but it's okay, they're missionaries!

If you've ever been on a overseas missions trip you know one thing for sure: Missionaries think outside the box.

They have services wherever they can, bible studies at a moments notice, baptize in rivers and streams and with buckets, even have women preachers and stuff. And guess what? Nobody gets freaked out! Know why? They are missionaries...they do what it takes to get the job done.

But....when you get back home, well....back in the box you go. At Crosswind we're learning that being missionaries along side a churched culture provides real challenges. I'm gonna list a couple, but as I do imagine if you saw the same thing in the Philippines or India or Africa... for example:

  • We baptize people when they come to faith in Jesus in a temporary baptistry...

Isn't it exciting to hear the mission trip stories about how many got saved and "we weren't gonna be there long so we just took 'em out right there and baptized 'em." And all God's people said.... Yet, when we did it... whew, let me just say, it wasn't pretty.

  • An issue that has recently been chatted about is: How are your kids getting taught if they don't "go to church"?

Every time I've visited missionaries around the world I find they are very creative about their children's care. Most homeschool, train their children in the scriptures through at home bible studies and devotions. And most of them do it every day not just once or twice a week. Not a one that I have met feel like their children were being cheated. God gave parents the responsibility to "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

We are missionaries to our own city and we know that it scares some folks and some folks can't quite figure out..."Why won't they just get in the box?" Well, it's cause we're missionaries, and missionaries think outside the box.

But here is what you can be sure of: We're gonna have bible studies wherever we can, baptize 'em when they get saved, take communion wherever we get believers together, teach our children the Bible and show 'em how it works in real life, preach whenever we get an audience, worship in a field or in our warehouse or in a car. And we're gonna do it...

Cause we're missionaries.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Outreach screams for help...

I used to wonder why Jesus started his outreach program with prayer for help... not anymore.

In Luke 10, Jesus told his disciples to go prepare some cities for His visit. His instructions were specific and if studied deeply (as they have been by many) incredibly profound. So much so that outreach ministries like ours model that passage 'to the t'. Here's the passage (note the highlighted verbs):

Luke 10:1-9
The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. 2 These were his instructions to them: "The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.
3 Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. 4 Don't take any money with you, nor a traveler's bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don't stop to greet anyone on the road. 5 "Whenever you enter someone's home,
first say
, 'May God's peace be on this house.' 6 If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. 7 Don't move around from home to home.
in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don't hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay. 8 "If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you.
9 Heal the sick, and
then say
to them, 'The Kingdom of God is near you now.'

Those verbs, in that order, and what is meant by them are the Crosswind Neighbor strategy. But why is pray at the top? And look at what the prayer is for. Not whether or not we should go. Not where we should. He answered those questions. Funny how we sometimes still pray about those things. No, He instructed us to pray for help, "people help" specifically.

Here's how I pray for people help:
1. Lord, touch the hearts of people so they can see the world like you do and fill them with your compassion.
2. Lord, move those people by your compassion to the people who need you.
3. And Lord, when we get there (in the field together) let us with love and unity, work together for you, for your interests, for your glory and for the good of the people you have sent us to.

You see, here's reality: There are lots of people doing a lots of loving things out of the goodness of their hearts. Civic clubs, churches, charities, ministries, and government organizations. But oh how much more effective we will be when we begin to do them together.
I'll be blogging about that in the days to come, until then...

Pray for people help.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Caravan of love

Last night around 7:30pm as I (Don) was sitting at my computer desk, looking out the window. I see this caravan of vehicles drive into Hickory Terrace loaded with LOVE!!!!

This wonderful group of people, who I'm sure had worked all day at there jobs then came out to Hickory Terrace with furniture, food, non-food items and lots of Love for a Mother and her 3 children. I was so moved by these people that I walked down to where they were out. That about killed me and I'm paying for it this morning but I just felt that I had to go down and let this wonderful group of people know how much they were appreciated.

I think the Security Officer said it all last night.

He said that He never seen any Church or organization move so quickly to help someone before like Crosswind. He was amazed at how much Crosswind did in such a little bit of time. He was truly moved at the LOVE that was being shown this family. He said that whole families were here helping this family in need. (Lanny Monroe and Family) He was still talking about it this morning.

After everyone had left Ms. Pettis and I stood outside of her building.

Ms Pettis said to me that she had just about given up all hope but after today and all the Blessings that she and her family had recieved today "everything was gong to be alright"..

Bobby, Ronda and Judy thank yall so much for putting all this together in such a short time. Plus I didn't know everyone last night that was here from Crosswind but please on behalf of myself, the Pettis Family and all the residents of Hickory Terrace, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!! There were several residents last night that saw first hand the Love and Caring of Crosswind last night. The LORD surly blessed us yesterday, not only did he provide the needs but showered us wth LOVE.. I don' know who said this but I read it in a church bulletin "



(Ms. Pettis made an emergency move to Corinth from Detroit after being laid off from work, and her children's high school consolidated with 4 others and to use her words had become a "war zone". Her children's safety was worth the risk and her main concern. Some plans she made here fell through and she found herself alone and desperate. Thanks to TVHRA, who expedited her application, she was able to get an apartment but had nothing to put in it. She is still "getting her wheels under her" but her kids are safe. She still needs her deposit money to turn her lights on. Her brother may send a check from Detroit.) ... hint :-)