by Jason Cruise
Recently I was listening to a podcast from Bill Hybels. Perhaps you've never heard of Bill, so it is enough to say that he is at the epicenter of global Christian leadership and has been for about 30 to 40 years. Bill started what has come to be one of the most famous and well-known churches in the world, Willow Creek Community Church, on the outskirts of Chicago.
During this podcast, Bill made an interesting statement that caused my heart to pause for a second and think it through. Bill's dad was a very successful businessman and he spent his entire adult life loving God, growing a great business, and being a good dad. Yet, his dad died at 52. However, even at that young age when he experienced the loss of his father, Bill noticed that his pastor never once tapped into his father's business acumen or leadership prowess. Even saying that he felt that his dad would have absolutely loved an opportunity to use his talents to help his pastor and their church, but it just was never offered.
Hybels said what that revelation did was create within him a resolve to forever use whatever coaching ability he had as a pastor to release people in his congregation to impact the marketplace for the growth of God's kingdom.
Even still, it was what Hybels will said later on in the podcast that stuck with me. The interviewer asked him, "You've been an amazing influence on so many people in the marketplace, so how have you done that?" He said that as elementary as it may seem ... you have to be "genuinely interested" in people, interested in what they want, and genuinely interested in them more than you are your own church goals, in order to see God used them and to help bring out the God-given gifts inside of them. Without going on a rant, Hybels got to the core issue: actually loving people enough to walk with them.
I believe that the reason that God wants us to be involved in lives of people is because businesses don't go to Heaven or Hell. Products will not make it into the kingdom of God. This isn't to imply, not in any stretch, that businesses, profits, and product development are not important. They are incredibly important, because these very things affect the lives of people every day.
What must happen in order to have a genuine impact for the kingdom of God in the marketplace, however, is a constant course correction in all things related to perspective. In the end, products aren't people and profit margins do not have a soul. God wants to use you to influence, and your products, and your business models, to affect people.
It's people that matter ... because people matter to God.
A Uniqueness Yet Known
by Jason Cruise
Heaven is going to be an experience that is obviously like none other known to the human heart.
I anticipate that moment when I lock eyes with Jesus. I cannot imagine what it will feel like to hear his voice.
I anticipate talking with prophets like Amos, and finding out what it was like to have real, honest to goodness, bar room volume scale opposition to your preaching.
I anticipate the sights, the smells, the colors.
I greatly anticipate that "new song" that we are told we will sing, for it is one I've yet to hear.
Yet I believe what I anticipate the most is that I will never again know what it feels like to be a sinner.
Toting a Corpse
by Jason Cruise
When Jesus saved me, He did not redeem the character flaws, bad habits, and hangups of my natural self. That may have come with the redemption package, but that was not the end game He had in mind.
According to Paul, Jesus' game plan was to kill me dead.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live ... (Galatians 2:20)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
So, it is critical then, my brother, that you do not tote around the weight of a dead man who was formerly you, for dead men have no place in the chambers of a man where life has been bought with a price.
A Time to Gather Stones
by Jason Cruise
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them. (Ecclesiastes 3:1,5)
This past Thursday evening, on a cloudlessly perfect day, I climbed a hill.
It's a hill I've climbed many times on a beautiful piece of Tennessee property where I've chased many April long-beards. This time, however, it was not to chase a tom. I felt a strange pull to worship on top of this hill. Close to the summit of this hilltop clad in cedars I stopped and gathered four stones.
Over the last ten years I've spoken at churches of all shapes and sizes throughout the nation at men's ministry events and wild game dinners. I've made a habit of gathering the email addresses of the pastors I meet just because I will often send out a special devotion dealing with issues that are specific to men in the cloth. However, this past week I sent an email to this group of men asking for them to consider opening their heart, and their missions budget, to a kingdom need that was both real and urgent.
If you follow the Man Minute, then you know that from time to time I'll write about my relationship with orphans in Moldova. While in this country on my last trip, it became readily apparent to me that Alina Magdaliuc, the national director of Justice and Mercy International, who lives and works with orphans in Moldova, was in serious need of a better vehicle, for the car she now has is quickly coming to a state of disrepair.
Alina travels all over the Moldovan countryside working to get orphans the help they need in a country where empirical evidence indicates that up to 60-70% of orphan girls will be forced into sex slavery. Therefore, getting these beautiful children on the radar of JMI is a critical issue. Without a vehicle, Alina's work for the kingdom of God is massively hindered.
Upon sending out this simple email requesting that pastors consider opening up their mission's budgets to help purchase this vehicle ... in one day's time ... I sat back and watched almost $10,000 of commitments roll in.
In one, single day.
I went to the hilltop to gather stones of remembrance. What I love about the Old Testament is that our God is forever trying to create ways to embed His faithfulness into the hearts of His people; so, lest they forget His benefits, He often called them to build altars and stack stones, and His purpose was simple:
He said to the Israelites, "In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God. (Joshua 4:21-24)
I stacked my stones, and then sat on a log to look at them for a while. There on that hill, in the deafening silence that only a cedar thicket can produce, I worshipped the same God that parted the waters of the Jordan, for I had seen Him part the waters for these children who are in need of a leader who can care for them continually. I wanted Him to know that I had seen His glory, a glory manifested through the hearts of His people, as they poured out tangible love to "the least of these."
It was a day I will not allow myself to forget.
FYI: We still have about $4000 to go to purchase the vehicle. If you are interested, email me at jason@outdoorministrynetwork and I'll get you into contact with Justice and Mercy International. 100% of your donation will go to this vehicle project and 100% of your donation is tax deductible.
Jason Cruise is the founder of Mission. Mission was created to "vindicate the fatherless" in a country known as Moldova. To learn more go to www.themissionvision.net Jason is a well known speaker traveling across the country sharing his love for Christ at wildgame dinners and conferences. Jason has created many valuable resources for the outdoorsmen to take them deeper into their walk with their Creator. These items include DVD's, Bibles, and Bible studies.