Adults on Mission Blog

Loving Unconditionally

Loving unconditionally . . . what does that even mean?

The high divorce rate even among Christians testifies that most come to a relationship with the conditional “I love you if . . . ”

In a world where parents and children can divorce or at least attempt it, relationships become strained. Distant. People pull away from those who don’t fill in the blank properly.

Our love for God is often conditional if He doesn’t fill in the blank properly—properly to us.

Who then? Who can love that way?

I know a Father. You may know Him, too.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The awareness of God’s matchless unconditional John 3:16 love gives us cause to pause and offer thanksgiving for the One and to the One Who unconditionally says, “I love you” and—

forgives us.
leads us.
carries us.
sees us.
hears us.
heals us.
changes us.
fights for us.
died for us.

What does He unconditionally do for you? Fill in the blank.

Praying for the Difficult

“I failed the parallel parking,” my daughter sobbed.

She had practiced on those poles day after day.

But what’s done is done. We rescheduled her test.

Walking out, I noticed that the parallel parking poles had been moved. No wonder she failed. I flagged the instructor down and explained the problem. She displayed no sympathy.

I began to dislike her very much. After hearing her explanation, I said, “That’s a shame.”

When hurt creeps in,

walk through prayer. I prayed for the instructor and the situation, mostly asking that I wouldn’t have to face her again when my daughter retested.
watch out for pride. I realized the instructor was right. My daughter should have been able to parallel park regardless of where the poles were positioned.
wait for peace. The day of retesting, the instructor saw me. “How are you?” she asked sympathetically with a smile, as though I were her best friend. “Much better,” I said. We talked and laughed together. I thanked God for enabling me to walk away with peace.

Shelli Littleton lives in Royse City, Texas, and blogs at ShelliLittleton.blogspot.com.

Finding Your First Love

When the grievous realization swept over me, I cried like a child.

All the puzzle pieces seemed to magnetically come together. That person I loved so much who just couldn’t seem to forgive me had become an idol in my life. Their forgiveness had become too important, all-consuming. Their lack of love and forgiveness could reduce me to tears in an instant and had left God in the shadows.

Why?

That person’s forgiveness would make me feel loved.

That person’s forgiveness would relieve me.

That person’s forgiveness would somehow save me.

Somewhere along the way, I had taken God, my First Love, off my heart’s pedestal and replaced Him with another—an idol.

And with that realization, freedom swept over me.

God reclaimed His proper place, as my heart made way. And I ran into His arms because He first loved me and His love is enough.

Shelli Littleton lives in Royse City, Texas, and blogs at ShelliLittleton.blogspot.com.

Share His Love and Make It Personal

Missions projects should involve personal contact when possible. It is easy to send a gift or money, but it is more difficult to meet people on their home turf. Sometimes they would rather have the opportunity to sit down and talk than anything we can give them. They need to feel they are worthy to be loved and know someone cares enough to spend time with them. This personal contact gives you the opportunity to share Jesus and tell them what He means to you.

Before you plan your missions project, call ahead to ensure all mission sites welcome visitors. Some in the group may prefer to go in pairs. Emphasize the personal touch.

Before You Go

Write the missions activities on small strips of paper and pin them to a bulletin board.
Pray for God’s direction as these community missionaries choose their missions field from the bulletin board.
Allow $10 to spend on each mission. The money can be used to buy food, small gifts, or other necessities.
Provide Bibles, tracts, and flyers about your church.
Answer questions, give directions, and set a time to return to the meeting place for debriefing.

As You Go

Selflessness: The One-Size-Fits-All Key to Ministry

For years, I had a common misconception—I thought ministry was all about abilities, spiritual gifts, schedules, etc.

Although these things are definite parts of ministry, I’ve discovered a more important one-size-fits-all key to ministry: selflessness.

Philippians 2:5–7 tells us that Jesus, Who came to be our salvation, accomplished all this within His selfless, perfect character. Jesus “made himself nothing,” coming not to be served but to serve our most desperate need. Therefore we also must become selfless in order to carry out the gospel mission.

So how do we do that?

Be willing to be used by God. He equips those who say yes when they are called. God uses gifts and talents, but He also uses the most ordinary things for His purposes.
Set aside your wants and needs so you can focus on God’s agenda. After all, your schedule belongs to Him.
Focus on God’s abilities to help you face your fears while doing something new.

Today take some time in prayer to seek God, asking Him to make you into the selfless servant He wants you to be!

Working Together to Make Missions Successful

The most beautiful thing about missions is not simply that it exists but how God gets His work done and invites us to join in His mission. Using His people, God instills in us a desire to serve Him, different talents, and passions and a focus on the gospel.

One of my favorite missions projects is Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse. I love watching how many different types of people it takes to get thousands of shoe boxes packed each fall:

There are year-round bargain shoppers who check toy aisles and back-to-school sales, socking away their blessed stash.
There are parents who use the project to teach their children spiritual lessons about other children.
There are artistic people who love the decorating part of the project and enjoy making the boxes beautiful on the outside.
There are the people who quietly donate toward the postage needed to ship the boxes to their destinations.
There are churches who pray over the boxes, asking the Lord to bless the recipients and make Himself known to their families.
There are countless people I never see who sort boxes and deliver them to places all over the world. 

Brokenness: The Seed of Compassion

Compassion isn’t something we possess on our own. It is often born of deep brokenness in which we experience the unspeakable comfort of God.

When our son was diagnosed with severe autism before age 2, I had only a surface grasp of God. He was a feel-good God to me. He was the God we begged to remove our problems, the God whose job it was to make us comfortable.

But my relationship with God became intimate, soothing, and more precious in the years that followed. I learned Who God really is through His Word. As I trusted Him more, God revealed His sovereignty over all of life. While I walked through the dark valley of suffering alongside our son, I experienced sides of God not visible to the naked eye:

God showed me such love that it overshadowed the heartache of the hour.
God showed me He was for me, not against me.
God took my prayers and answered them according to His will.

The time of suffering would prepare me to minister to people. Because of God’s compassion, I now feel compassion for others and it has been woven into nearly every act of ministry or missions I’ve been a part of.

Global Hunger Relief—Pray and Promote It!

Three times a day the majority of us eat a satisfying meal. And we are largely unaware of the 795 million undernourished people worldwide.

Global Hunger Sunday is October 11. Pray and do something!

Our church held a successful drive for world hunger. We created soup canbanks and purchased bread banks for our congregation. Families collected spare change and delivered the money to the church. The project’s simplicity made participation easy.

Does your local food bank or soup kitchen need help? Perhaps funding is desperate and you could donate, or ask your Adults on Mission group to make a donation.

Do you know someone who could be struggling with hunger? If you suspect it, it’s probably true. Reach out to this hungry soul. Do this anonymously by passing along a grocery store gift card through a confidential source or use your family mealtime to show grace and meet a physical need by inviting this person over for supper.

Learning Can Be a Life-Changing Experience

What takes place in our society when listening, learning, and loving converge? What changes occur when your missions group collectively answers God’s call to learn and compassionately shares His love in an educational environment? Being disciples becomes the focus, and the effect is contagious. Communities are transformed. Families are restored. Lives are changed forever!

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Through recognizing and serving the needs of others, your missions group can become intentionally involved in the spiritual journey of those right around you. Without warning, you learn that missional living is the ultimate destination of your day-to-day journey and not just a random side trip.

Are You Really Listening, God?

Many of the population of military veterans I serve in my job as a VA hospital chaplain suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. One such veteran is very special to me, as he is a fellow chaplain. I asked him if PTSD affected his ability to listen to God. Without hesitation, he said, “Absolutely!”

First, he told me his ability to hear at all was affected. Distractions are much worse for one suffering from PTSD than for most of us. Even trying to focus on God still takes concentrated effort.

A career military man, he had trained most of his adult life for war. Though he admits it was a naïve assumption, he thought he would be immune to PTSD since he was serving both God and country. Surely God would protect him so he could minister to those whose only purpose was to protect their country. But that’s not the way it happened. He now suffers from severe PTSD.

Now, he asks, can he still trust he is hearing God correctly? Can he trust God to answer? Listening to God is now a challenge. He finished his conversation with me by saying, “But I heard Him this morning as I preached.” Thanks be to God!

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