Posted tagged ‘Adoniram Judson’

Giving Choices

August 8, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               August 8, 2016

                                        

For years, and years, and years I would write a personal check each Sunday morning, put it in an offering envelope, and place it in the offering plate at church as it passed me by. I believed then, and I still do, that the pastor of a church should model giving.

And then I retired at the end of December!

Now what?

Carol and I now had some choices to make.

The past few months have caused me to rethink how we give, to whom do we give, and why we give. Perhaps our reasons for financially supporting a person or organization include some elements that might be trends…or, perhaps not!

One of the factors we now weigh revolves around “relationship.” We now support four different individuals or families in various ministries and missions because we know them. One of them is related to us, another was a part of the youth group years ago back in Michigan, another is a young lady who I coached in basketball, and the fourth are personal friends of mine who are married to one another. Relationship is pivotal because it tells us whether this is “a mission on a whim”, or there has been consistency in the life journey of the person. We’ve also given one-time gifts on a number of occasions for someone who is going on a short-term mission trip. I’ve noticed that we are much more open to giving when we personally know the person. The relationship helps us sense that we are a part of the ministry.

The second factor could be called “purpose.” What is the purpose of the ministry? What does the mission focus on? If we aren’t sensing purpose in the mission then a budget deficit is no longer a reason for us to contribute to it. Purpose is huge.

For us purpose trumps results! We can be swayed by a happy bottom line, but the first Baptist missionary in Burma, Adoniram Judson, didn’t baptize his first convert until he had been there six years. His purpose, however, never changed. He was charged with sharing the gospel with the people of Burma. In today’s terms, his annual reports the first five years would not have looked very good.

We must believe in the purpose of the ministry for us to support the ministry.

The third factor would be “integrity”– the integrity of the ministry. Integrity includes elements like financial responsibility, trust, commitment to the future of the mission. A ministry or mission is different than a bank. I deposit money into my bank and trust that it will keep my funds safe, and even give me a few cents interest on it each month. A ministry with integrity understands that I give my gift to it to be used for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Any church has “savers” and “spenders.” Put another way, any church has those with very conservative spending habits and those who, like Adoniram Judson, believe “that the future is as bright as the promises of God.” There are settlers and there are pioneers. In this time of our lives Carol and I want our financial gifts to be used for a significant purpose. We shy away from “settling.”

Sometimes a ministry, especially the ministry of a church, communicates more about the utility costs than it does the mission. That, I believe, affects the view of the ministry’s integrity. Over the past twenty years or so there have been enough examples of missions and ministries mishandling funds or being dishonest about its finances. We need to see integrity in the organization.

Finally, there needs to be “a tug on our hearts” for the ministry of the person or the organization. Do we sense that God is leading us to be a part of this? Quite frankly, there are a number of things he is not leading us to partner with. We aren’t THE answer, just a small part of the solution. Each person or ministry we now contribute to has tugged on our hearts.

Where we are right now in our life journey may be where most people are in regards to their decisions to support causes and concerns. It is a new place for us that has caused us to do a lot of praying and thinking. Our money is not our own, and never was. We’re simply called to be wise stewards of it in the support of God’s Kingdom!

A New Adventure

February 21, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     February 21, 2016

                                     

I’ve been an Air Force Academy season ticket holder for men’s basketball for five years now. This week I received an on-line evaluation to provide feedback on the positives and negatives of that. The wording of one of the questions was interesting. It asked “Between one and 10, how would you rate the Air Force basketball experience?”

The wording was interesting to me! Rate the experience!

About once a month I receive another on-line evaluation asking me to rate a dining experience that Carol and I have had in a restaurant we have been to.

Whether we use a survey or just makes mental notes, all of us rate experiences. Disney refers to visits to their theme parks as “The Disney Experience.” People are drawn to experiences.

Recently I was having coffee with two men, who are close friends of mine, and we started talking about our walks with Christ. When I asked one of my friends how he would describe his Christian experience he paused for a moment of contemplation, and then he said “It is an adventure.” He continued, “Walking with Christ has it’s mountains and valleys, highs and lows, but regardless, it is an adventure.”

Well said, my brother! When I read the faith journeys of people like Adoniram Judson, William Wilberforce, Corey Ten Boom, William Carey, Martin Luther, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer the constant is “an experience of adventure.” Sometimes it led to death, sometimes it led to a deeper understanding of the love of God or the grace of God or faith in God. There were moments of personal crisis and periods of celebrating the victories. Through each of their journeys the defining term was adventure.

When you ponder about your faith journey where would you say the adventure is? Often that adventure comes in the midst of the intersecting of our faith with our career. There are a multitude of people who work in occupations where their decisions flow out of their faith journey. Parents raise their children out of a foundation built on faith.

The adventure is seeing the hand of God in the midst of our lives and other lives. The adventure is approaching today and the next day with the assurance that God is present, and with the dominating question “What might God want to be about in my life today?”

Rate your experience. Raise your expectations!

The Pursuit Worth Pursuing

May 15, 2009

Many years ago I knew a lady who was passionate about collecting buttons. Not buttons that you sew on to your coat, but rather buttons that you pin on to your coat.

Political campaign buttons. Buttons with pictures. Buttons with smiley faces. Buttons with slogans. Buttons with American symbols, and buttons with British symbols. Buttons from states, and buttons shaped like different states.

Her home was populated with buttons, thousands and thousands of buttons! But she used buttons to facilitate “that one thing” in her life that she pursued with passion and purpose. Her buttons were used to initiate conversations, but “that one thing” in her life was Jesus. Buttons opened the door to conversations about Christ.

I would say that a vast majority of people can’t point to “that one thing” they desire to pursue. It’s that one thing that is like an emerging flame within their spirit. That one thing is not a hobby, or even an activity. It’s “the pursuit worth pursuing.”

It’s Adoniram and Ann Judson pursuing a new calling to be missionaries to Burma as a result of being convicted that baptism by immersion was what the Bible talked about. The conviction they felt, listen to this, was during the voyage they were on to India, where they were to being sent by the Congregational Church to be missionaries. All of a sudden the pursuit worth pursuing…that one thing…changed their plans. They went from being commissioned, financially-supported missionaries to un-commissioned, non-supported, un-employed missionaries. Luther Rice, who was another commissioned missionary, whose views on baptism had also been changed, sailed back to America and went from Baptist church to Baptist church raising support for the first American Baptist missionaries overseas. If Luther hadn’t come to understand that this was the pursuit worth pursuing the Judson’s wouldn’t have been able to spend the rest of their lives sowing the seeds of the gospel in Burma.

This was not meant to be an article about American Baptist missionaries. It’s just to illustrate the point that I’m not sure how many of us come to that point of knowing what in our life is “the pursuit worth pursuing.” We might re-word it for our situation, but its realizing the “heart” of Paul’s passion. He wrote “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12, 13b-14)

We focus on trivial pursuits that “flame out.” “Temporary flings” is the phrase that best sums up what consumes the bulk of our energy.

Why is it that our attention is so easily diverted? It could be because the pursuit worth pursuing is also a little intimidating. Like the dust clouds rising behind a speeding car on a dirt road, there are accompanying doubts that trail closely behind the pursuit worth pursuing. When the drive forward is halted the dust settles in around us making the way unclear. The “what if’s” surround us.

What if I go full speed forward and I fail?

What if I pursue and I fall flat on my face?

What if the flame flickers out while I’m pursuing?

What if I’m just meant to be mediocre?

The pursuit worth pursuing is not a problem for most people, because they never get started.

I’m more afraid of another “what if.” What if “that one thing” that God has planted in my heart…that pursuit worth pursuing that He is entrusting me to be about…what if that one thing is the pursuit I never pursue?

That would be a tragedy!