Reflections on VM Staff Conference
All right! So, my memory and I, combined with the way the last few weeks have played out are the exact reason that Village Missions asked us each to take a Sunday after we return from Conference to share that video, sharing the state of the mission and to take a few minutes to share our reflections on what we learned or took away or were blessed by at the conference.
And usually, coming back and immediately sharing what we took away from the conference would be timely and easy. But when you come home and get COVID and miss church and Bible studies and all that for two weeks, its easy to forget some of the things unless you are specifically trying to think of and remember them.
So, this helps me to remember and to apply what was taught and it helps to strengthen the connection between our church and Village Missions, strengthen the connection between each of you and Village Missions.
The theme of this year’s conference was Faithfulness, and I just keep hearing from the Princess Bride, Faithfulness! Enduring Faithfulness!
Now the focus of our week together was on us as Village Missionaries, as missionary pastors staying faithful long term. Us living out and working out our faithfulness. Having and keeping that faithfulness long term and finally staying and finishing faithfully…
You heard John Adams talk a little bit about some of the ways that Village Missions is trying to assist and proactively help Village Missionaries stay and finish faithfully. We saw some of the things that they are implementing.
Village Missions desires for the reason that missionaries leave their field, and leave the mission be due to retirement and not due to burnout or depression or frustration or moral failures, or any other reason that pastors leave the ministry. I know that there have been a number of Village Missionaries here that, when they have left Bangor, they have left the ministry and so I know you guys understand the importance of investing in the long-term faithfulness of missionaries.
I want to share one of my biggest takeaways from the conference. There was a theme that ran through the various speakers and sessions. Ultimately the theme was that we are called to be faithful, and God is on control of the results.
John Adams taught on Ephesians 2:1-10. I had Frank read that this morning and I want to take a real quick glance at it. Paul writes:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
One of the things is that we can not be counted faithful if we know all the details and we know the outcome. Yes, we know the outcome in terms of salvation and where we end up and God wins and all that. But in terms of every day and the result of our faithfulness, our obedience, we don’t know the outcome of any of it.
Ephesians 2 tells us that its all about God.
God is the one who chose me.
God is the one who pulled me out of my sin.
God is the one who called me to follow him and to be faithful.
God is the one who brought me from dead in my sin to alive in Christ.
God did it all.
When we decide to be faithful and follow him, we don’t really know what we are getting into. We don’t know what it actually entails.
When I decided that I should start attending church with my roommate at the time, I didn’t know where that would lead.
When I decided that, since I believed what the Bible says, that I probably should read it, I didn’t know where that would lead.
When I decided to attend Bible college, I didn’t know where that would lead.
When I married Hope, I didn’t know what that would entail.
When I graduated and decided to go to graduate school, I didn’t know where that would lead.
When we discovered and applied for Village Missions, we had no idea what that would entail.
When we went up to Mossyrock, on our first field, we had no idea the ups and downs, the successes and the trials and tribulations, that would come with that.
When we accept the assignment to come down here to California, CALIFORNIA?!? We had no idea that it would be such a perfect fit, not again, the successes and trials that came with pastoring here in Bangor.
The point is that all these steps were a part of being and staying faithful to God and his call on my and our lives. And we had some ideas and some glimpses of what that would look like, but in reality, we didn’t know how each of those steps would turn out. We were stepping out in faith, being faithful.
That’s our call. That’s what God calls each of us to do. Be faithful. Stay faithful. And the even better news, 2 Timothy 2:13: if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
I can not do it. Not of my own. Nor can you. But God will remain faithful, even though our failures, our trials, our slip ups, our sins. AS we cry out, I believe! Help my unbelief! As we have moments and maybe more than moments of faithlessness, he remains faithful.
When I remember and know, truly remember and truly know that the results are in his hands. That we plant the seeds, we water, but he brings the increase. That the harvest is ripe, and the workers are needed, but he is the God of the Harvest.
Again, Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are called to be faithful. We are called to be Holy. We are called to do good works. But it is he who created us to do them. It is he who prepared those good works beforehand. It is he who equips and allows us to walk in them. He brings the increase. He remains faithful.
Let’s Pray. b