Southeast Asia 2013

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

My wife was helping me pack for this trip and I asked her if bringing five books was too ambitious. We agreed that though I will have spent 40+ hours on airplanes, alone, I probably should only bring 3. I just love learning. (Which is probably why I keep going back to school :)… I promise, honey, I will be done soon!

I’m currently reading books related to missions philosophy. A lot has been written in recent years, especially related to how our Western perspectives of ‘helping’ can sometimes actually ‘hurt’. Challenging stuff that we need to be responsible to consider.

I won’t elaborate too significantly here, but thought I’d share a few highlights from the book by Peter Greer, “The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good”. (You should Google him and his Lancaster-based organization, Hope International)!

“…it’s possible to sacrificially serve God and be completely self-centered in the process. Morally upright people fully immersed in service can be…far from God…” (p. 33).

Personal application: I need to check my motives for serving. Is it to make me feel good or look good? Is it to try to earn God’s favor? Or is it in humility and simple obedience to God’s leading in my life?

“It is possible to be successful, even in service, yet be heading in the wrong direction” (p. 54).

Personal application: How am I measuring success? Jesus said that apart from Him, I can do nothing. Am I abiding in Him? Are indicators such as my marriage and home life healthy? Are the things that are most important to God most important to me?

Quoting Dorothy Sayers: “It is the business of the Church to recognize that the secular vocation, as such, is sacred” (p. 91).

“…an elevated view of full-time ministry is thoroughly unbiblical. Sabotaging our ability to impact the world for Christ, it leaves most of the church on the sidelines, cheering on the pastors and missionaries” (p. 93).

“If there is such a thing as full-time ministry, we’re all in it” (p. 95).

Quoting Abraham Kuyper: “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!'” (p. 95).

Personal application: We are all ‘in the ministry’ no matter what our vocation. How am I expressing my commitment to the ‘mission’ through what I’ve been called to do, today?

Quoting Henri Nouwen: “I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me – my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts – and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards instead of developing them for the glory of God” (p. 101).

“Breaking free of our inflated view of ourselves comes when we ruminate on the amazing story told in Scripture. When we orient our view toward God’s glory, we get a glimpse of the grand story, one of redemption of wholeness and hope from a very big God…When we turn our eyes away from ourselves, we see that we’re not the superheroes-but we’re part of a much bigger story than we ever could have dreamed” (pp. 108-109).

Personal implication: It’s not about me. Never was. Never will be.

This post has gotten lengthy. To wrap it up, I ask for your prayers for me and our church leadership as we consider these kinds of challenging thoughts in our missions and outreach strategies. We want to partner in ways that are pleasing to God and that richly benefit his Kingdom. We want to participate in short-term missions opportunities that aren’t about making us feel good, but that are advancing the power of the gospel.

I challenge you, too, to be praying about your investment. What may God ask you to do to advance the message and transformative power of the gospel both at home and abroad?

I’m looking forward to the journey together!

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

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