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    Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families
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    Director, Children's Ministry
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Now What? Living Out Express Grace

Now What? Living Out Express Grace

I love conferences like the one we just experienced here at Southwood.  I love the energy they inject into our spiritual lives.  I love the fresh vision they can create for us in how we are called to express grace.  I love the new connections we make with our mission partners and hearing stories of how the Kingdom is advancing through our efforts.

But now what?  What are we to do with the new-found energy and vision?  That is the question of the hour.  As great as conferences can be, they are not enough.  They are tools that help prepare us to be better ambassadors for the King, but their impact is often short-lived.  The new energy we felt drains out like a battery running quickly down, until, in a short time, we are back where we started.  So, while the flame is still burning, let’s ask a few questions.  With these new insights and a fresh understanding of the call of the Gospel, what does the Father have planned for you?  How are you called to participate in His Kingdom work?  There are at least three levels at which we can get in the game.

The first level is to GO.  Being called to another part of the world is not for everyone.  It is a special calling that the King lays on the hearts of a few.  Such a calling involves significant sacrifice of effort and relationships, intensive training, and a willingness to enter uncomfortable and uncontrollable situations.  Though it is for a few, we all must at least consider whether we might be called to join the chosen few.  Most of us probably assume that we are not called.  Leaving our home, changing “careers,” and uprooting our family from years of relationships would be too costly for most of us.  At the same time, maybe He is calling you to be uprooted from your familiar life and to be transplanted into another world where the Gospel can flow from you to others who are in darkness.

Yet, there is another aspect of going.  It does require some level of sacrifice and discomfort, and good training is recommended.  But we don’t have to move to another continent or people group.  All of us are called to be ambassadors of the King right where He has placed us.  He has put us into networks of relationships where we are the primary connection with His Eternal Kingdom.  Going in this way does not involve the same level of life disruption as going to a foreign field.  Yet, it does require intentionality and can be costly on various levels.  We need to ask these questions:  What is my mission field?  To whom am I sent with the Good News of the Kingdom?  How can I better engage with my neighbors, co-workers, and/or friends that will lead them to more fully behold the glory of the Kingdom?

Another level of involvement is to Give.  The advancement of the Kingdom, like anything else, requires resources.  Psalm 67 tells us that God blesses us “that [His] way may be known on earth, [His] saving power among the nations.”  Just as we are conduits of His joy in redemption, so are we conduits of His resources. 

We might not think that we have adequate funds to make a significant impact, but it does not require great gifts, as the world would define them.  It requires faith in the Great Benefactor not only to provide for our needs, but also use our small offerings, multiply them, and satisfy the spiritually hungry world with the news of His salvation.  In fact, in many places around the world, gifts that may seem small to us here can really stretch a long way.  Just as Jesus took a couple of insignificant loaves and fish from a young boy and fed a multitude, He can also use our gifts to feed the nations with joy and hope.  Ask yourself, how has God blessed me with resources that can be funneled towards Kingdom Advancement?

Finally, we can pray.  In many ways, we should have listed this first, because praying for the advancement of the Kingdom is the most powerful way we can participate in such work.  There isn’t anything more important in the work of Kingdom advancement than praying for the darkness to be driven back, the enemy defeated, and hearts opened to the words of life.  Yet, I list it here because you might not think you can do anything else.  Maybe you can’t transplant your family into another culture or people, or even effectively engage with your neighbors.  You might not think you have the funds to provide for those who do go.  But, there is absolutely nothing stopping us from getting on our knees and interceding for those who are actively working on the front lines to see that the nations hear the gospel.  And hopefully, as a result of the Express Grace Conference, you now know at least a couple of our global ministry partners better, and you can intelligently pray for the work they are called to do.

Ask yourself, how can I more effectively direct my prayers for the advancement of God’s Kingdom?  What friends do I know, who as of yet do not know Christ, whom I can pray for?  How can I better direct my prayers to the movement of the gospel around the world rather than for my personal comfort?

So, what will you do now?