Perspectives - Week 1

Matt and I are taking the Perspectives course again.  You may remember that we took the course last year and loved it.  So much so that we agreed to be on the leadership team for our area of town.  As we were planning and preparing for the 2017 course the coordinator asked us to join him as coordinators with the plans to take over in 2018.  Honestly, my first inclination was to say no way.  But after some time in prayer Matt thought we should do it.  Later, we learned that we need to take the course at certificate level.  Here we are co-coordinators and students.  I was feeling overwhelmed until the first class.  Now I'm pumped!

What is Perspectives?  It's a 15 week course on the world Christian movement.  It's about opening up your heart and eyes to Christianity around the world and what it looks like to take God's Word to unreached people.  Some call it a missionary class, it's not.  I have never felt called to pack up our stuff and move half way around the world, even for a short term mission.  There are unreached people in your neighborhood.  Plus, there are many ways to partner with God in sharing His love and His Word without leaving your town.  There are courses happening now all over the United States and in some parts of the world.

Now that I've shared a little baseline information about what it is,  I thought maybe I'd share my takeaways after each week and after each reading.  Each week there is a key word and a theme.  We have different speakers and activities each week tied to that theme.

Week 1's key word is PURPOSE.  Such a lofty word, right?  We are constantly trying to figure out our purpose in life.  It can be a bit anxiety inducing.  The definition here made me relax my shoulders, as I've been feeling some angst about this very thing lately.  My paraphrase definition: to live a life of purpose is to devote yourself to something larger than your life. 

The theme for week 1 is The Living God is a Missionary God.  God's plan for missions is revealed in Genesis.  That was an aha moment for me.  I thought it wasn't until Jesus said to go and make disciples in Matthew.  But God reveals His plan to Abraham way back in Genesis.  He will make him into a great nation so that all Abraham's people will be blessed and through the seed of Abraham the world will get to join in that blessing.  That seed is Jesus and when we proclaim Him as Savior we get to join in the blessing of Abraham.  The blessing is transformational and relational.  It is NOT about prosperity nor are we to engineer outcomes. That's an important distinction for me.

One article we read took a look at the fall of man in the garden of Eden.  There are a couple of challenges, satan has created a counter-kingdom to steal the allegiance of people through deception and humans are rebellious.  A quote that stood out to me so much that I underlined it, starred it, and then wrote it in the margins is that the devil doesn't show up as a dude in a red suit with a pitchfork, but often as a do-gooder.  Someone who looks like they are doing good but for all the wrong reasons.  Someone who looks like they are doing good but it goes against the Truth.  Talk about deception!  It's important to consider if I am doing a good thing because it makes me feel and look good or because I want to bring glory to God through the thing I'm doing/saying/supporting.

We learned that there isn't one section of the Bible that mandates missions but rather the whole Bible is a mandate for world evangelization.  There was also some great stuff about cultural Christianity and how it looks different in different parts of the world.  The point is not to make others worship as we do but to authentically worship the one true God.  I know we'll learn more about what that looks like among different cultures later.

So that's what I've learned this week.  Now, on to week 2!


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