Word of Life is part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. But what does that mean, practically speaking?
It means that we are taking the Great Commission seriously.
Matthew 28:18-20 tells us that Jesus expects us to make disciples of all nations on earth. This is a fundamental aspect of what it means to be his follower. His love compels us to take the gospel to those who do not know him. This includes taking the gospel to our neighbors, but it also means that we are committed to taking it to the darkest places on the planet. Missions isn’t an add-on program: it is part of our DNA. It is our middle name!
It means that we recognize that cross-cultural ministry is hard.
Being an effective worker in a foreign land is difficult. Language mastery takes several years. Learning local customs takes just as long. This means that there is considerable investment that must be made before productive ministry can be expected. Alliance workers are thoroughly vetted so that we send workers that have both a clear calling and capabilities in handling the challenges of long-term international work.
It means that we value strategic planning in missions work.
The C&MA has some of the best minds in the missions world planning how we can most effectively reach the nations with the gospel. This multiplies the effectiveness that individual churches could have on their own. Our missions leaders target places with the goal of establishing churches that reproduce. When churches have been established, leaders have been developed and multiplication is established, we move resources to other places. For example, we have pulled resources away from the Philippines and invested them elsewhere because there are more Alliance churches there than there are in the United States! Sure, more work that could be done, but the network of Alliance churches in the Philippines is self-sustaining and growing. The US Alliance can take the gospel to new places.
It means that we value working together with other churches to support missionaries.
The Great Commission Fund is a key means of supporting workers so they do not have the burden of raising funds for their work. This frees our workers to do that which they were called and equipped to do rather than spend countless hours figuring out how to raise funds to stay on the field. It allows them to minister in ways that are effective in establishing churches rather than finding photo ops for fundraising letters.
It means that we are praying, giving, and sending in obedience to our Lord.
Fueled by the Spirit, we are committed to doing whatever it takes to see the gospel taken to the ends of the earth. We pray regularly for the nations. We give sacrificially to fund our common effort, and we send others to complete the work God has given us.
To find out more, check out resources and opportunities online at cmalliance.org.
The April snowstorm made national news. It made me a little depressed. It was my birthday and I had plans that involved being outside. Why did it have to snow on my birthday?
Many would say that snowstorms are the result of high and low pressure systems which in turn are caused by the uneven heating of the planet. Meteorologists saw this storm system coming for days before it happened. While weather can be studied and predicted with increasing accuracy, there still seems to be a certain unquantifiable amount of chance mixed in. In searching for answers, science eliminates “God” from the answer, but only because they are looking for immediate rather than ultimate causes.
God reigns supreme in the universe. There is nothing that is beyond his control. The weather is not random. It moves at his command. In his wisdom, the elements behave in certain predictable ways, but they are held together and react the way he planned. He can rearrange physical laws or move elements at his will. We see this in the great flood, the plagues of Egypt and even the calming of the storm. While meteorologists predicted this week’s snowstorm, there can be no doubt that it snowed because God willed it to snow. These things are not contradictory.
I didn’t want it to snow. God did. And in the midst of my mild disappointment I needed to remember that God and his ways are always good and always best, even when they don’t line up with my preferences. From my perspective, the snowstorm was bad, but from God’s perfect perspective it was good.
This is true not only with inconveniences like snowstorms, but with the more difficult things in life. Let’s say that storm caused a tree to fall and land on the roof of my house. Was that outside of God’s control? No. God reigns over the trees that fall. He could have stopped it from falling, but chose not to. No one wants a tree to fall on their home. But even in this circumstance we are to remember that God is good. If the tree fell on the house and killed me, it would not be an accident or simple chance. God already knows the date, time, and circumstances of my death. It is in his control.
There is no rival for his sovereignty. Rebels against it, yes. Rivals to it, no. And in his sovereignty God uses the actions of evil rebels for good. This was the testimony of Joseph after being sold into slavery (Genesis 50:20). When God allowed Satan to test Job, he did not wonder what was going to happen. He knew what Satan was going to do. And Job responded the way God knew he would. In the suffering of Job, we see God’s sovereignty at work. He is refining Job and drawing him closer to himself.
Even the worst of actions fall under his sovereignty. No greater crime has ever been committed than the execution of Jesus, yet we are told that this apparent horror happened in the will of God. Here is Acts 4:27-28: “Truly in this city they were gathered together and against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”
God’s sovereignty holds firm even when we wonder how and why circumstances could possibly be good. Adam and Eve sinned. This was not a surprise to God. And yet it is clear that he created Adam and Eve knowing that they would rebel against him. Sometimes, for His own glory, God permits things to happen which He hates. The majesty of his mercy and grace would remain hidden were it not for rebellion and sin. God is not morally responsible for sin, but he created the world knowing that we would sin. And he will use the actions of sinful men for his glory.
How should we respond to the sovereignty of God in our daily lives?
1. Rejoice that there is nothing that will ever happen to you by chance.
Everything that happens has the ultimate purpose of bringing God glory. And living to the glory of God needs to be our goal in every circumstance. Whether life is working out according to our plan or whether things have become difficult and chaotic, we need to focus on bringing God glory. So, if the snow falls, we are to give him glory. If the sun shines, we give him glory. If catastrophe comes our way, we are to give him glory because he is always good.
2. Pour out your heart and complaint to God.
There is reason a third of the psalms are lament: Life is often hard. Tragedies happen. We don’t see how things that have happened can possibly be turned to good. We weep and despair. The psalms give voice to this and are a means of expressing how we feel to the Lord. Lament is not the absence of faith. Instead, it is a cry to God because of the difficulties that we are facing. Lament, like grief, is natural and healthy. The joy of the Lord does not exclude lamenting when things are hard and circumstances unpleasant.
3. The ways of God are often past our understanding.
We grasp some of God’s character and have insight into the reasons he does some things, but Job reminds us that “these are but the outskirts of his ways and how small a whisper do we hear of him!” (Job 26:14). We simply cannot comprehend the tapestry God is weaving from our perspective. We need to remember that God is good in all that he does. The disciples trembled at the sight of Jesus on the cross. It seemed to be the ultimate defeat, yet it was the greatest victory.
4. Remember God didn’t promise an easy life, particularly for his followers.
The basic call to follow him was a call to pick up a cross. Paul wrote that we are children of God, provided that we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:17). Recalling that life is marked by suffering makes it easier to endure pain for his glory.
5. Remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
The Lord told Paul when he was converted that he would suffer for him. Paul experienced tons of trauma in his life. He was put in prison, people tried to kill him, he was shipwrecked, and went for days without food to eat. He discovered that through all of these trials, nothing could separate him from the love of God. In fact, these trials were part of the plan of God for taking the gospel to the Gentiles.