In the last blog, we shared that receiving Christ is a free gift from God, but there is a cost to follow Jesus. Not only must we be prepared to take our cross and follow Jesus, but we must own our Kingdom assignment from the Lord.
When the Lord is instructing Joshua and Caleb to possess the land that has been promised to the future generation, He tells them that every place that their feet hit shall be theirs. God tells them to take as their own cisterns they didn’t dig and homes they didn’t build, and that He will give them cities in marvelous and miraculous ways. They had to possess the faith to own their Kingdom assignment regardless of the circumstance and the fact that there were still giants in the land. There was a fight to be fought and they were His servants.
We must all realize that there will always be giants in the way when it comes to owning what the Lord has promised to do through us for His glory.
I wanted to share with you the following message written by Dan Trippie, Senior Pastor of Restoration Church in Buffalo, N.Y., which partners with H.I.S. BridgeBuilders Ministry.
Genesee and Moselle
How far does a neighborhood extend? At first thought this might seem like a simple question, one to be measured in blocks and street numbers. Yet, the subjectiveness of such a query tells us more than we might care to know. Does my responsibility end with the homes adjacent to mine or do I have culpability for that which extends beyond? I set out to answer this question on a stroll down Genesee and Moselle.
Bertha and I began our walk the morning after the Eastside saw its twelfth shooting. Security cameras once again told the familiar story of a black teen shot in the back. For seventeen years the streets whispered hopelessness, now paralysis confirms the ugly message for yet another young man.
Greg was the first neighbor to approach us as we walked out the community center doors. Quickly he darted up to me. “Are you a person of influence?” he adamantly asked. “Am I?” I thought. Our church is small and we have little resources so how do I answer such a question? Yet before words were formed in my mouth, my polo shirt and khakis created reality for Greg. “You a reporter? Or an investigator?” he demanded to know. “Neither,” I replied, “I am just a pastor.” “Good, you are a person of influence!” he retorted.
Anger and frustration swiftly boiled to the surface as he recounted the night’s event once again. “He was shot in the back!” Greg’s long commitment to community watch and neighborhood activism seemed to be futile against the backdrop of yet another Eastside shooting. For thirty years I have watched an exodus from my community. Now, I’m just tired. Greg’s eyes told the story. Our conversation was only but a few minutes, yet during this interplay I learned what it is like to watch the things you love ravaged before your very eyes. With emptiness on his face Greg described what life used to be like on this beautiful street canopied with elegant elm trees. Bertha’s glance signaled it was time to continue the stroll.
We set our journey north as my tutor educated me on the needs of the neighborhood. “Over here we could have a garden, there a playground, maybe that house could be used for women needing a fresh start…” With eyes ablaze, Bertha described what could be and should be amidst dilapidated and abandoned buildings. Her ability to see what she wanted, and not what actually was, inspired my question. “Bertha, what will it take to change this neighborhood?” Her smile turned flush as her eyes darted across the street, “Let’s go talk to those guys.” Before I knew it, she had set our feet across the street toward a rundown house where there sat three men all with cellphones pasted to the ears.
“Good morning boys!” Bertha declared, as we approached the lopsided porch. I could feel the blood in my veins speed up and my feet tense for what might be a rapid retreat. To my surprise however, all three men with a reverential fear ended their cellphone conversations. Almost simultaneously they laid down their phones, like soldiers surrendering in battle. They afforded to Bertha the type of maternal respect offered by a young child to his mother.
“Gentlemen,” Bertha said, “my friend and I would like your input. What does this neighborhood need?” All eyes suddenly fixed on me as if to say, “What do you care?” The answers they gave were more to do with testing than substance. “Sumthang for the kids,” “knock down them old houses” and “build something nice.” Although the answers seemed smug, it was with careful dictation that Bertha recorded every idea as if each were a ground-breaking thought.
The conversation was again short as these men obviously had more pressing business. But the continued glances they offered my way seemed to coincide with the question possessed earlier. Greg wanted to know if I could help, these young hustlers questioned whether I would dare. Thus begins the classic collision of faith and works. I set out to find how far my neighborhood extended left only to find boundaries are not measured by geography but awareness. I have walked, now I know. I have heard, now I must decide. I have seen, now how must I act?
Questions concerning neighbors have always haunted the religious. Jesus illustrated this when he told the story of a man stripped, beaten, and left for dead. As I walked the Eastside neighborhood last week, an ancient parable came to life. Homes stripped of families, activists beaten down by defeat, and young men who will either be dead or imprisoned, hold a strange resemblance to the story of a man walking to Jericho. The question of where my neighborhood extends is no longer at hand, the question now shifts to the complexity of how do I use my two denarii? (Luke 10:25–37).
It was interesting how the hospital where we were receiving treatment had signs up that prohibited filming. I did not see the signs and when a security guard asked my videographer whether he had permission to film, he said, “Yes, from Pastor Mike with Chemo Church.” The guard seemed satisfied for this Chemo Ward was now our church that the Lord had graciously placed us in this season to extend His compassion.
We were careful not to break any rules placed over us but that did not hinder us from accomplishing what God had put on our hearts to do. What if all Christians owned their assignment from the Lord for their office building, community, school or city? The Lord has placed these Chemo Wards in my heart as my own. When I visit the Chemo Ward in Houston, the nurses provide me a room and say, “Pastor Mike is here,” and they direct me to certain patients they know who need prayer.
In the same manner, when I am called to inner city communities, I begin to see them as my own. Even though I do not live there, the residents are my family because of our shared faith in the Lord. I know that the Lord has called me to restore urban communities globally for His glory.
It is His glory that He longs to make known through our obedience. Only the Lord can bring hope and complete restoration. We are simply His messengers and servants. To me, the key is owning the ministry that God has given you, wherever He has placed you in this season of life.
Our country is not going to be changed until each Christian does his or her God-given part. In Nehemiah, the wall that had been in disrepair for decades was miraculously built when Nehemiah owned it as his God-given assignment, and the people of the nation of Israel each built their part of the wall by their own homes. Throughout the Scriptures, God speaks of the plans He has for us and that our faith is dead unless it works. It is God who works in you, to will and to work for His good pleasure.
“… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
— Philippians 2:13
When God reveals His vision, you are the provision. Quit waiting for someone else to own what the Lord has given you. God’s glory is at stake and the world is dying and decaying because we are not willing to pay the price to follow Jesus.