Stage 5 – Returning to the Heart of God
35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" 38Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." 9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Clearly the consistent theme and passion of the ministry of Jesus was a relentless dedication to helping lost people be saved. As disciples of His we must ask ourselves “Am I about my fathers business?” Do we care about what he cared about? Do we cry about what he cried about?
Life comes at us fast. It is so easy to let ‘the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things’ choke out our eternal purpose as ambassadors for Christ. As I share the blessings that God has showered on us here in Boston in the last few months, I am haunted by the memory of one conversation with some brothers after a midweek service. I was sharing about all the great things that were happening in the church only to have one brother pose a very pointed question, “Those things are amazing, and how many people are you studying the Bible with right now?” he asked with anticipation. My joy turned to embarrassment as I quietly replied “none”. Even as a full time evangelist, I can lose sight of the goal. I think that since arriving in Boston I can honestly say I have never worked harder in the ministry, but I have only studied the Bible with one person who has become a Christian. I am right back where I was in 2005.
At the leaders retreat in Baltimore in January of 2006 I announce to all of our family group leaders that I was convicted that I had been too much of a “Pastor” and not enough of an “Evangelist”. I explained that I needed to change my schedule to make more time for the lost and less time for the saved. They stood and cheered. In that year God brought me 10 people that had a heart to be saved and the church began to grow dynamically. That will be my prayer for 2009 here in Boston.
Solution – Disposition
• David’s Disposition – Psalms 51
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
• Paul’s Perspective – Acts 20
22"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
David explains so beautifully that the final phase of spiritual recovery is not merely “sitting by the quite waters” but rather sharing the peace of God and turning sinners back to him. That is when we are healed, that is when we are truly happy.
Paul puts it quite simply when he says it’s the only thing that matters to him. I long for that clarity in my life and I am thankful for the grace of God which allows me to repent and feel the refreshment. My goal for this “Parable” of sorts is to clarify for myself and perhaps you various stages in the road to recovery and inspire you to have faith to simply take the next step. The time has come for the question to be asked of you. Where do you and your ministry fit among these five choices:
- Darkness and Denial
- Decision to Get Well
- Direction Driven by Faith not Fear
- A Call Back to Commitment
- Returning to the Heart of God
I pray to God that we will all find sufficient courage to take the next step of faith in our journey towards home.