103 Days…

“I’m pretty tired…..I think I will go home now” Forrest Gump. 103 straight days with a post on this blog. A lot has happened since the first post. It has been a real blessing each day, but I am going to take a break. Only for this week though. We are moving for the second time in 24 days, so we have to pack up, close on the new house, and then unpack, all this week. The good news is…..the first move was temporary, this one is long term. So we are really looking forward to beginning a new chapter in the Jones book. I began my last week in my 13 week writing project yesterday (The Return of the 72), but I want to finish strong, so I plan to pick up next week, writing from my new office. Then I want to revisit something old I want to share here the following week as a new project will begin. Thanks so much for all your support! Phil

Return of the 72

Annuntiate = Return of the 72

Annuntiate = Declare in Latin

annūntiāte

PART ONE OF SIX

In Luke 10:17-20, “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”  And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”” (Note: Some versions say 70 instead of 72).

To really understand what was going on here, the previous verses need to be read to understand the context. Luke 10:1-16 says:

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

So Jesus sent 72 additional disciples, after the 12 had been sent to Galilee, to every city and place Jesus was about to go to prepare the way for Him. Picking up in verse 17, the 72 return and were bragging about all the works they had done and miracles they had performed. Jesus said, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus was saying, in effect, “Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to me” (Oswald Chambers quote). The best thing we can do is work on our relationship with God in preparation to “Go.”

And this is exactly what this week is about – “Go.” The Great Commission. “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  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 all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Just for today, meditate on The Great Commission and rejoice that you are rightly related to Jesus.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Barbour, 1963.

Image Courtesy of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventy_disciples

The Obituary

Vocatio = The Obituary

Vocatio = Your “calling” in Latin

vocātiō

PART SIX OF SIX

I want you to take a look into your future. Hopefully it is many years from now, but I want you to think ahead to your funeral. Your spirit has departed, but there lies your body among your friends and family. I know it is morbid to think about, but a profitable exercise nevertheless.

What is it your friends and family say about you? What is your eulogy like? What accomplishments are written about you in your obituary? What legacy did you leave? Spiritual and otherwise?

If you just float through life and do not purposely plan your life out and Who you live it for, this occasion could be a tragedy rather than a time of celebration. When this time comes, only one thing really matters……who was Jesus to you? If your friends and family did not see you living for Christ and have assurance in where you are, it could be a really hard day.

But there is one more thing. In the parable of the talents, the master said to the servant who had been a good steward over what was given to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” When we meet the Lord face to face, it will be shameful and embarrassing to meet Him empty handed, some will be saved but “yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15). We should be striving to live a life that will be one day worthy of the words “well done.”

This week, we have been talking about our callings. We are all called to love God, love others, and share the gospel. I think we all have our special mission or calling as well, a unique job using our gifts and talents to glorify God. The Lord has given you talents to be steward over. What will you do with them?

Hopefully this week God has revealed much to you and you have written several things down: what He is telling you to do, your Mission Statement, your Purpose Statement, and an Action Plan.

Think again to the scene at your funeral. You might be at a crossroads in your life right now. You can take what the Lord has told you to do and put it off, or you can take action starting now. First, imagine what your funeral will be like if you do nothing. Then, imagine what it will be like if you accomplish your mission and purpose in obedience according to His call, your personal “1,000 gyms” (see yesterday’s post).

I hope and pray people would say of me, “He loved the Lord and left a spiritual legacy of many who came to know the Lord or grew closer to Him because of him.” I long to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Just for today, think forward to your funeral. Will everyone in attendance know where you stood with the Lord? Are you prepared to hear the sweet words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” for a life well-lived? Write out your own obituary.

Tune in tomorrow for Song of Sunday.

1,000 Gyms

Vocatio = Begin with the End in Mind

Vocatio = Your “calling” in Latin

vocātiō

PART FIVE OF SIX

Begin with the end in mind. In Stephen Covey’s best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind” is habit #2. Hopefully you have written down what God is telling you to do, your Mission Statement, and your Purpose Statement. What is the end-game of all this? You have to begin, not blindly, but knowing what you want to accomplish. What do you envision accomplishing through this? Begin there.

Several years ago I attended an Upward Sports leadership conference with my friend Terry Haley. We were able to hear a dynamic talk by Upward founder Caz McCaslin. He was telling the story of how Upward basketball came to be. He said, “There is one way to God, through Jesus Christ. But there are many, many ways to Jesus Christ.” Caz chose basketball for his ministry; the way he would lead kids toward Jesus. Caz started a basketball league at his church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. After about six years of growing the league at his church, Caz drove home so excited to tell his wife the news that the league had grown so much that they “had 550 kids signed up and 27 on the waiting list.” His wife said, “Well, babe if that’s what you want to do is put 27 kids on a waiting list, then you did good. “What do you mean?” a confused Caz asked. His wife replied, “Honey, we didn’t sign up for this to turn kids away, we signed up to reach kids.”

Not too long after that Dr. Johnny Hunt came to speak to Caz’s church about church growth. Dr. Hunt said something to the effect of, “If you have an opportunity to reach people, and you turn them away, you might as well just put a sign outside of your church that says, ‘Go to hell.'” Caz went outside and cried for those 27 kids on the waiting list. He knew he had to change something. So he approached a wealthy man at the church and asked if he would fund the construction of another gym at the church. The wise man told Caz, “You don’t need another gym, you need a thousand gyms.”

Twenty-five years later, over half a million children play Upward Sports in more than 2,600 churches throughout the United States and the world. Through Upward Sports, every one of these kids has heard the message of the gospel. In fact, my own daughter Taylor came to Christ through Upward Basketball. As I coached her team, on the last week of practice, there was a gospel presentation given by the coach (devotionals at practice throughout the season lead up to this moment). As I finished the presentation and gave an invitation, I will never forget Taylor raising her sweet little hand in obedience to the Lord’s calling. I can picture it like it was yesterday. Caz McCaslin’s vision of “1,000 gyms” is personal to me as it led to the salvations of many youth, including my daughter, and had and is still having a large Kingdom impact.

What is your “1,000 gyms?” Maybe God is not calling you to do something this grand; maybe your call is to get plugged into a ministry or starting a ministry at your church. Or maybe He has planted a magnificent call in your heart, something much bigger than you. I don’t know. But you do!

It’s time to formulate an action plan. Get out a sheet of paper. Begin with the end in mind. Take what God is telling you to do, your Mission Statement, and your Purpose Statement and think of what all this will look like at the end. What does it look like in 10 years? What does it look like in 5 years? 3 years? 1 year? 6 months? 90 days? 60 days? 30 days? 10 days? This is your action plan.

Just for today, create an action plan. Now keep it with you and review it each morning, noon, and night.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Six……

jesuscalling.com/podcast/upward-sports

10,000 Hours

Vocatio = The 10,000 Hour Rule

Vocatio = Your “calling” in Latin

vocātiō

PART FOUR OF SIX

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argued that it takes 10,000 hours spent doing one thing to achieve greatness. For instance, Gladwell gave The Beatles and Bill Gates as examples. Maybe you would think of Tiger Woods playing golf for 10,000 hours in his youth. Whether or not you believe in “10,000-hour rule” or not, someone that spends this kind of time doing one thing is committed, at the very least.

We are to work like it depends on us, but pray like it depends on God. Sometimes He wants us to do the heavy lifting; sometimes He does the heavy lifting for us. Paul said, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). It takes unwavering faith in our Lord and extraordinary effort along with His wonder working power all working together.

When we planted our church ten years ago, I am just going to tell you, we really did not know what we were doing. We showed up at a park the first Sunday with a motley crew of faithful believers, and a trailer full of tables and chairs. We did not know what to expect, but we had faith that we were doing what God called us to do. And years later, we still need the Lord’s help every day. There are so many unbelievable situations we are put in where the only thing you know to do is say, “Jesus, help me.” And He has over and over again. I know He will help me today. And I know He will help me tomorrow. And if you ask me one key to our ministry, I would say, that is it; asking “Jesus, help me” and “Jesus, help us” very often.

Under Over Fellowship never would have happened without a vision, and then faith in that vision, even when we could not see the whole picture. After a decade, we still can’t. But I cannot wait to see more!

What is your one thing? What do you want to spend the next decade pouring into? If you could spend 10,000 hours over the next ten years doing one thing, what would it be?

So far you have thought about what God is telling you to do. Hopefully you have come up with a Mission Statement. Today, we will take it a step forward with a Purpose Statement. Your Mission Statement should be broader in focus; your Purpose Statement narrow in focus.

How can you take what God is telling you to do, along with the Mission Statement you came up with, to narrow it down on a life purpose for you? The one thing you should be doing for the next decade or longer, or until God calls you to something else.

Just for today, write down a Purpose Statement. What is your one thing?

Tune in tomorrow for Part Four….

ELROD, HAL. MIRACLE EQUATION: the Two Decisions That Move Your Biggest Goals from Possible, to Probable, to… Inevitable. HARMONY CROWN, 2020.

Falwell, Jerry. Building Dynamic Faith. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2007.

The Inheritance

Vocatio = The Inheritance

Vocatio = Your “calling” in Latin

vocātiō

DAY THREE OF SIX

Imagine this scenario….It is a Wednesday morning. You get a phone call that a relative you have never met left you $10,000,000. What would you do with your life?

You can only play video games, travel, eat bon bons, and watch soap operas for so long. We get so busy doing what we think we have to do. What is it you want to do? What is God calling you to do? Design your life, don’t just go through the motions.

What are your dreams? What about your spiritual dreams? How can you use your gifts and talents to further God’s Kingdom and make great impact?

Take time and answer this question: What dream has God given you that is much bigger than you? Spend time with God today and ask Him to clarify this for you.

I asked yesterday, “What is God telling you to do?” Today, I want you to take that a step further and work on a Mission Statement. What is your personal mission?

However, first you must purpose to live a surrendered life for Christ. If we are not doing this, the rest will not fall into place.

Let’s go back to our initial scenario. What would you do if you inherited $10,000,000? I think this question helps clarify our dream. If failure was impossible and money was no object, what would you do? How would you serve your church? How would you be charitable? How would you influence your Jerusalem, your Judea, your Samaria (Acts 1:8)?

Well, you do not have to wait until you have $10,000,000 in your bank account. You can get started right now. In fact, our Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If your dream aligns with His will, there is no stopping it from happening. I am not telling you to go out and quit your job either; this is the provision God has given you. You might have to do your dream part-time for a short while or even a long while. But do something to take a step toward your dream. And the first thing you can do is write it down.

Just for today, clarify your dream. What is God telling you to do? Take this time and write down a Mission Statement.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Four….

Falwell, Jerry. Building Dynamic Faith. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2007.

Moving Mountains

Vocatio = Mountain Moving Faith

Vocatio = Your “calling” in Latin

vocātiō

PART TWO OF SIX

In the story of Jesus healing the boy with an unclean spirit in Mark 9:14-29, the boy’s father said, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus replied, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” The boy’s father immediately cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

How many times have we been like the boy’s father in this story? “Lord, if you can do this thing…….” If He can! We already know He can; help our unbelief! The “if” does not point to whether or not God can, it points to our faith.

Matthew 17:20 says, “For truly I say to you, if you faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” God can take our small faith and do great things with it, greater than we can imagine.

Look at the longings in your heart, your gifts, and your talents to see God’s purpose in your life. What is God telling you to do?

Several years ago my good friend and favorite preacher Jerry Vineyard was driving down the street near our old Mission building. There sat a church building he had passed hundreds of times, but this day was different. He said it was almost like the sign of the church was lit up and he felt God telling him to call about the building, like it belonged to us.

Think about how crazy this sounds for a minute…..So I am going to call another church and say, “You don’t know me, but I feel like I am supposed to call you about your church building. If you do not want it any longer, we will gladly take it.” No wonder Jerry did not take action at first. A couple of weeks later, he was driving in his truck and heard a radio commercial for an event at the church who owned the building. Again, Jerry felt the Lord telling him to call about this building.

This time he did. He looked up the main number for the church and called. After being transferred to the right person, the voice on the other line said, “It is funny you should call. We are going to move out of that building soon, and are trying to decide what to do with it.”

There is more to the story as it took some time, proposals on what we do with the building, and much prayer and many meetings, but at the end of a few months, God (through a faithful and obedient body of believers) gave us a million dollar facility. Just gave it to us. Who does that? God. God does. And it started with the obedience of making a phone call.

We have been able to expand our ministry greatly with this gift from God. And it all started with, “What is God telling you to do Jerry?” Make a phone call. Move mountains.

One of my favorite songs currently is Do It Again by Elevation Worship. The song starts slow and builds up to a climax with these lyrics:

“I’ve seen You move, come move the mountains
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again
You made a way, where there was no way
And I believe, I’ll see You do it again.”

To check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOBIPb-6PTc.

What mountains has God moved in your life? Think about what He has done and give Him all the glory for it! Why would He not do it again? I believe Lord. I’ll see You do it again.

Just for today, write down what God is telling you to do. Whatever it is. It can be one sentence or a few pages.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Three…

Falwell, Jerry. Building Dynamic Faith. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2007.

Vocatio

Vocatio = Your Calling

Vocatio = Your “calling” in Latin

vocātiō

PART ONE OF SIX

This week we are going to be working through your calling.

I wrote previously that I believe a life of pursuing Christ can be simplified to four things: loving God, loving others, looking for opportunities to share the gospel (which shows both love for God and others), and finally, a personal mission, or your calling (https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/cotidie.blog/643).

What is a personal mission or calling? It is no accident that you have the gifts and talents you have. God gave them to you to further His Kingdom. Ultimately our calling has to do with building and filling the needs of the church (both Big C and little c). And the Lord might give us several different callings or missions during our lifetimes. But I am not here to tell you what the Lord has or has not called you to do; that is between you and Him. You might already know, but just have failed to take action on it.

Henry Blackaby said, “He chose us, called us, and prepared us-But he didn’t do that for us to just sit there.” So what has God chosen you, called you, and prepared you or is preparing you to do? What has He given you that is bigger than you? What dreams has he given you?

This week we are going to be examining just that: what has God placed in your heart that is bigger than you? What talents has He given you? We will be looking at a vision, developing a dream, and your calling.

Just for today, read Mark 9:14-29.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Bought With a Price

Vincere = Bought with a Price

Vincere = Conquer in Latin

vincēre

PART SIX OF SIX

Many times we are our own biggest enemy. But if we figure out how to conquer ourselves, we can conquer anything in this world.

We have been doing just that this week, talking about how to conquer ourselves in several areas: our heart, our mind, our tongue, and our actions. But as we progress forward, we must first take a step back.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

This passage is a principle and a command for sexual purity among Christians. If you were bought with the blood of the lamb; just remember, anything you do to your body can contaminate the temple of the Holy Spirit. However, this principle applies to more than just our sexual conduct. We have no right to abuse or be wasteful with what rightly belongs to God. Our bodies should be used to glorify God, in every situation. Charles Spurgeon said, “Your body was a willing horse when it was in service of the devil, let it not be a sluggish hack now that it draws the chariot of Christ.”

What can empower us more than knowing that God Himself lives in us through the Holy Spirit? We have power over the flesh because of this and should take great comfort in this truth. Our body is a temple. We draw the chariot of Christ.

Another thing we need to see is, since we are not our own, there is no such thing as a “private life,” apart from our life in Christ. My good friend Joley Vineyard shared a powerful post on Facebook this week called That’s What Christians Do, written in 1999 by Don Wildmon. Here is an exerpt:

“In 1973 The Supreme Court said it was ok to kill unborn babies. Since then, we have killed more than the entire population of Canada. And it continues. A woman’s choice? Half of those who have died in their mothers’ wombs have been women. They didn’t have a choice. It is called abortion. Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.

First it was in dingy, dirty theaters. Then, convenience stores. Then, grocery stores. Then on television. Now it is in the homes of millions via the Internet. It is called pornography.

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.

They called it no-fault. Why should we blame anyone when something so tragic happens. Haven’t they already suffered enough? Half of the marriages in America end this way. The children suffered. The family broke down. It is called divorce.

Me? I go to church, the minister preaches, I go home. That’s what Christians do now.”

This is exactly what I am talking about; we must not compartmentalize our lives. Therein lies the problem Wildmon was talking about. I cannot live for Christ from 9:00am-noon on Sunday morning and sometimes on Wednesday night and expect to effect the culture and turn the world upside down. There cannot be a Sunday morning Phil Jones that is different than the Friday night Phil Jones that is different than the Monday morning Phil Jones. No one will want to know his testimony or why he follows this Jesus. I was bought with a price. My body is not my own. I am not my own. My Sunday morning , and my Friday night, and my Monday morning, and everything in between has to belong to the Lord and reflect Him.

I must seek permission for everything I put into and do to my body. I must seek the will of God for every decision I make. I must not compartmentalize my life as I am to seek to serve the Lord at all times. If we do not submit to the Lord, we risk becoming a hindrance instead of a help to His Kingdom work. We can, though, daily submit our temple to the kingdom work going on around us.

When we understand this, we can allow God to take hold of heart, our mind, our tongue, and our actions. After all, they do not belong to us anyway. This realization is how we conquer ourselves; we let the Lord Almighty do the conquering. Glory to God for conquering me. I hope you can say the same.

Just for today, be conscious about glorifying God in your body.

Tune in tomorrow for Song of Sunday.

Actions (W.W.J.D. anyway?)

Vincere = Actions = The Will of God

Vincere = Conquer in Latin

vincēre

PART FIVE OF SIX

W.W.J.D. What would Jesus Do? If you were paying attention in the mid-1990s, you are well aware of the W.W.J.D. craze that was happening. Youth and children all over the place were wearing bracelets that read W.W.J.D., as well as t-shirts, hats, you name it.

In doing a little research, I found that there is a lot of criticism out there regarding this movement. People disapproved of the consumerism involved. Some said it was flawed in its theology. Is not it impossible to know what Jesus would do, after all?

We have been talking about conquering ourselves this week. We started with conquering the heart, then the mind, then the tongue. But now it is time for action; or lack thereof in many cases. Softening our hearts, taking our thoughts captive, and bridling the tongue are the first lines of defense for our actions. If we have those three in line, our actions should follow suit. But what if we are still tempted to take a sinful action? How do we handle this?

We should always seek to be Christlike in every situation. However, asking W.W.J.D. is a little problematic. We are not God and we cannot compare our feeble minds to His. Remember Paul’s writing, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).”

Also, some people wearing the bracelets really did not know who Jesus is to begin with. It was just a cool thing for many to do. But you know what? If my children came home wearing a W.W.J.D. bracelet, I would not mind at all. There are some teaching moments that could be found and I would take it as a desire to want to follow Christ better.

Additionally there is an ethical problem when comparing our ethics with Jesus. There is a fundamental difference in what Jesus would do ethically compared to the rest of sinful humanity. He was the perfect Lamb of God and, well, we are not even close.

Acknowledging these problems with asking W.W.J.D., then how are we to be Christlike?

Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10). This is being Christlike, or striving for it, recognizing that an imperfect person chasing Perfection is unattainable, but striving for it anyhow.

We cannot know the commandments without studying them systematically. Psalm 19:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

I still think W.W.J.D. could be useful to someone that is right with the Lord and seeking Him. Maybe a better question, though, would be, “What would Jesus have me do? (W.W.J.H.M.D)” In other words, “What is His will in this situation?”

We have to conquer our sinful actions, which many times takes the form of our habits. A lot of this is using the brain and the good sense that the Lord gave you and setting up safeguards against your actions. If you struggle with alcohol, do not go to a bar and avoid the beer aisle at the store, for starters. If you struggle with drugs, you might have to get rid of some of your friends who are a trigger for you. If it is sexual sin, you can take action by setting up roadblocks on your phone, computer, or television. Some might find it prude in today’s age, but our pastoral staff has an agreement with each other that we will never be alone with a female other than our wives. If one is trying to be abstinent, that decision is made way before the first date.

We are weak. We have to admit it. That is another reason W.W.J.D. is not as easy as it sounds. But our actions still can be conquered. We can store up God’s word in our hearts, so that we might not sin against Him. We can write W.W.J.H.M.D. (What would Jesus have me do?) figuratively on our hearts in permanent marker, as we surrender to live a life that seeks the will of God each and every day, in every single situation. W.W.J.H.M.D. – It’s not near as catchy, but it’s much more sound.

Just for today, let Jesus conquer your actions. Write W.W.J.H.M.D. on your heart to deal with each and every circumstance.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Six……