Understand the Assignment

I was listening to the news last week when I heard an interesting story about a group of police officers who stormed a woman’s apartment and beat down her front door even though she kept yelling that they had the wrong apartment.  Turns out she was right and the police were wrong; the apartment where the drugs were being made and sold was the apartment next door.
It reminded me of the story that Richard Blackaby tells in his book, The God Centered Church.  Richard’s first charge after graduating from seminary was with a church in a small west Texas town and the town was so small he was asked to serve on the fire department.
He goes on to tell about the fire department of a neighboring community that took great pride in their ability to fight fire.  One Saturday morning, that particular fire department held a training exercise in which they were going to practice fighting a fire in an old home.  They set the fire and waited until it was fully ablaze, then with great skill they moved in and extinguished the fire.  The training exercise went perfectly; everyone on the department did their job efficiently and effectively.  Everything went great!  Except for one minor (OK major) detail.  They burned the wrong house.
Somehow they misunderstood the details of the assignment.  They had been given the wrong directions.  Those who were in charge of the exercise failed in communicating the correct directions and the consequences were great.
The point of course, could it be that I’m doing something really well in my life, but it just happens to be the wrong thing.  As I reflected on my past, I would have to admit that there were many times in my life I was doing something very well, but it was the wrong thing, or for the wrong reason, and the consequences were great.
For example, I worked really hard to support my family, but ultimately I was trying to buy happiness.  And yes, I wanted to support Mitchell and Jonathon in their sporting events, but only in hopes of helping them make a name for themselves.  Yes, I wanted to tithe, but only in hopes that God would help me make more money.  And yes, I could do my best to write articles that would help a person discover truth, but if no one reads them, what is the point.  (Which by the way, if you feel I’m “burning the wrong house,” please let me know).
The same could be said of our ministry, we could be doing many things well, but still be doing the wrong thing.  One thing is for sure, in order to do the right thing, we must be certain about our mission.  I have really been blessed to learn of so many who are actively engaged in ministry.  My challenge for you and your committee or team is to continually be discerning in regards to our mission.  May it never be said of American Reformed Church that we do things with excellence, but that we are doing the wrong thing or for the wrong reasons—for the consequences will be great
“This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message.  It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details.  When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians.  God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
“And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.  My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along.  Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!” (Ephesians 3:7-10 – The Message)
Following the Way,  Mike

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