Tassels and theme cards

We remember what’s right in front of us. That’s why we put our grocery lists under refrigerator magnets, pictures on our nightstands and sticky notes on our dashboards. If I want to make it to an important appointment, I set an alarm on my phone, so when the time comes the reminder is right in my hand.

Even what’s most important to us can fade or be forgotten. God knew that with time, hearts can drift from His commands and His truth. In the midst of His loving care, we can start to believe that we are the masters of our own destinies, and that our efforts and strength got us to where we are. The Israelites had the same struggle. God’s set-apart people needed a constant visual reminder that God was in charge, and He had a plan for their lives. So, God commanded that on the four corners of their garments hang blue-corded tassels.

“These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the Lord’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes. This way you will remember and obey all My commands and be holy to your God. I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahweh your God.”
‭‭- Numbers‬ ‭15:39-41‬

Every way they turned, those who wore the tassels would feel that God was with them and they were His, rescued and set apart. As they walked along the path, they would be reminded of God’s commands and respond in obedience. God’s calling was worn right next to their skin.

I need that kind of reminder of God’s calling. I want God’s heartbeat to be my constant playlist, compelling me to move forward in confidence to God’s commands. I desire for the Gospel to resonate so deeply in my life it spills out in Great Commission action.

God has given me the great privilege of serving as my area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, a project that seeks to share God’s love with children in need around the world through simple shoebox gifts. This year, my team is seeking to filter everything we do through the lens of Matthew 28:19-20. This is our mission, our marching orders.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

God is calling us to center in on this theme: GO and GROW. The investment we have in ministry through Operation Christmas Child is because we seek to follow Jesus in His Great Commission. God is using us, literally, to make disciples of all nations by mobilizing people and multiplying shoebox gifts right here in our communities in Missouri. Because of God’s power and the movement of His Spirit, we are going around the world through shoeboxes to children who desperately need God’s love and salvation – and we are a part of their discipleship as they work through The Greatest Journey follow-up program. As a team, we are asking God to raise up more than 45,000 shoeboxes in our 18-county area for 2017. My dream goal is for us to reach 50,000 children this year, which means that up to half a million people in our world could be impacted by God’s love. ONLY GOD could accomplish that!!!

This is my Operation Christmas Child Team's theme card for this year. The Great Commission is the lens for our ministry efforts.

This is my Operation Christmas Child Team’s theme card for this year. The Great Commission is the lens for our ministry efforts. On the raft in this picture are several cartons full of shoebox gifts traveling to an outlying area in Fiji. If you’d like to be reminded of this calling, you are welcome to use this printable or electronic theme card. Please let me know if you are using it!

These theme cards will act as our tassels in the coming months as we follow God’s lead. We want the Great Commission ever before us, so we will post these cards on our refrigerators, bathroom mirrors, dashboards and screens. God’s Word does not return void, and we want Him to sow this seed deep within our hearts, where God has prepared soil to reap 30, 60 and even 100 times what is planted.

We have all been called by God. Called by God to be His arms of embrace and His feet to go where people need to know Jesus. Called by God to love in truth, to follow His commands, to serve together with the church to make disciples of all nations.

Is your calling ever before you? Consider this a reminder that God has a plan for your life. As one who has responded to God’s great grace, God has called you to join Him, to go and grow.

Hang tassels on your garments or put a theme card on your nightstand. Find a way today to honor God’s call and be reminded of His rescue and redemption that He intends for you to share.

One of the few or the many?

As we focused on Matthew 9:35-38 in church this morning, one question consumed my thoughts:

Am I one of the few working in the harvest or one of the many who just don’t care enough to truly get involved?

This is one of those uncomfortable questions that most will gloss over. In fact, it is quite clear that not many dwell on this passage, even with it being a reasonably popular sermon text, particularly around mission-focused times of the year (like Easter and Christmas). The reality is, most of us are more often one of the many than one of the few.

Why is that? So many, even those of us who are “committed Christians”, fail to labor in the harvest. We hold back, and hesitate to get involved and share Christ with those around us, and in efforts around the globe to see the name of Jesus lifted high. We love our families, faithfully attend church, live a “good” life, and go to the grave with the answer to abundant life, without ever really living it or sharing it.

Be honest with yourself. Is Jesus your one and only passion? Are you actively working in His harvest to share the Gospel and obey Him completely? Where are you holding out on God?

The time for excuses is past. Jesus Christ Himself said: The harvest is so great, but the workers are few. There is a harvest all around us, people who need the Savior. We MUST care enough to reach out and love them enough to share with them how they can have forgiveness and freedom through Christ.

So, how can we do that, even this week?

Let’s do what Jesus did:

  1. He was out and about. Matthew 9:35 says that Jesus traveled around to all the cities and villages of the area. We must be mindful of Him wherever we go. In fact, maybe we need to write out a reminder and put it on our dashboards so when we go, we are looking for the Lord to act and we will be willing to let Him use us.
  2. He announced the Good News. We need to talk about Jesus all the time. We need to look for every opportunity to share His love verbally with other people. The more we do this, the more it will become a natural, instinctive part of our lives. If nothing else, one good place to start is with the question most of us will be asked on a weekly basis from peers….the proverbial “How was your weekend?” question. Why not share how God spoke to you at church? I could line up a whole army of excuses for that one, but the reality is that God placed us where we are for the chief purpose of being His ambassador and reaping a harvest. If we are doing nothing about that, we are one of the many and sinning against God!
  3. He had compassion. Matthew 9:36 tells us that Jesus felt great pity for the people around Him. He was moved with compassion and reached out and healed them. God wants us to spend our time loving people, helping them through their difficult situations and living life to point them to Christ. He want us to give what we have and provide for others, first with the Gospel, but also with their needs, whether physical or emotional. This can get messy, but God never intended His people to serve Him only wearing their “Sunday best”.
  4. He commanded us to pray. In Matthew 9:37, Jesus specifically tells us to pray to God, who is in charge of the harvest, to send out more workers in the fields. When was the last time we prayed for God to send more workers to gather the harvest for a specific person, our community, our nation and our world? My pastor this morning remarked maybe we don’t do this because we’re afraid God will send us.

I’ll admit, I have too often been one of the many. And, I have needed to ask forgiveness from my Lord for my indifference and my apathy. Maybe you are there, too. You love God and you want to serve Him, but…

Let’s start this week with fresh eyes for the harvest, and genuinely cry out for Christ to not only send out workers into the fields, but to send us.

Pray that:

  • God will keep us mindful of His plan and purpose wherever we are this week, whether at home, at work, at school, at the grocery store, literally wherever.
  • The Holy Spirit will burn so powerfully in our hearts that we will not be able to keep silent when He gives us opportunities to share the Good News.
  • Jesus will help us see those around us the way He does, and that we will be broken with compassion and love for those He gave His live for, and that we would meet their needs.
  • God would help us consistently pray for workers to enter the harvest.