Key Question: What does it mean to steward and aim all my resources, gifts, and efforts with Gospel intentionality?
“But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” —Genesis 19:26
“For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and [is] gone.” — 2 Timothy 4:10
“As the time drew near for his return to heaven, he moved steadily onward toward Jerusalem with an iron will . . . But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.’ ” — Luke 9:51, 62
“I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” — Acts 20:24
“The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolving that you will do everything.” Charles H. Spurgeon
To live with Gospel Intentionality for Christ in light of a final legacy from Christ, and an eternity with Christ
Today we begin our third Gospel transformational, five-week course called Intentionality for Christ. It reviews our identity in Christ, reminds us of our callings to Christ, and addresses the middle-age struggles with regret, broken dreams, and busyness.
Intentionality, besides being a philosophical concept, is defined as a disposition of the will; as a noun, it is the state of being volitional in nature. The Latin etymology indicates the relevant idea of directedness or tension arising from aiming towards a particular target.
The evil trinity—the world, the flesh, and the devil—is seeking to destroy us in each season of our spiritual formation. In the Spring they mess with our identity, in the Summer our calling, in the
Autumn with our intentionality, and in the Winter with our preparation for heaven—our legacy. The world ushers Christians in this age-bracket near to yet another pit, the flesh persuades us to fall in, and the devil pushes us over the edge. “The pit,” as it were, represents an aimless waste-collection of unused gifts, time, and resources that could have been invested more strategically for Christ’s honor and the Gospel’s advance.
Send questions, if you like. There will be further posts on this topic forthcoming. Bob
Jonathan Edwards’s daughter, Esther, describes how her father’s counsels were beneficial to her as an adult. She made a trip to visit his home and wrote:
“Last eve I had some free discourse with My Father on the great things that concern my best Interest—I opened my difficulties to him very freely and he freely advised and directed. The conversation has removed some distressing doubts that discouraged me much in my Christian warfare—He gave me some excellent directions to be observed in secret that tend to keep my soul near to God, as well as others to be observed in a more public way—What a mercy that I have such a Father! Such a Guide!”
When Edwards died in March 1758, his wife, Sarah, wrote to their daughter Lucy:
“My very dear Child,
What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a very dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.
Your ever affectionate mother,
 Esther Edwards Burr, The Journal of Esther Edwards Burr, 1754-57, ed. Carol F. Karlsen and Laurie Crumpacker (New Have, CT: Yale University Press, 1984), 224.
*Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, vol. 32, Correspondence by, to, and about Edwards and His Family (Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University).
For one year I prayed for God to give me one faithful man I could invest my life into, one whom God would pour out His Spirit upon and use mightily for His glory. One year is all long time, especially since I intentionally moved my family next to a college campus of 20,000 students for this one purpose.
Zach didn’t particularly care for me, and his friends were coming to my home and bible discussions. Well, I was so pleasantly surprised to hear the next year that he was all in for discipleship – he was full on.
This picture reminds me of his story of us in Sensing Jesus, describing an early morning time of prayer on a Colorado mountain side some thirty years ago.
Zach invests in faithful men now, and two of my sons attend his church and meet man to man with him just like we did decades before. Zach is a popular author, husband, father, seminary teacher, and pastor in St. Louis, MO.
Here is a first step into his blog work and more: http://zackeswine.com/mentoring
Rev. Duane Otto is a friend and an assistant pastor with me. He and Julie have five beautiful children, and we are kindred spirits on many topics and spiritual formation.
Friday night lectures are a highlight on his farm each quarter or so, and he would love to interact with you. Check out his sight soon:
Bill Pence is an elder on our church’s session. We have served together for over twenty years, along with a group of tremendous pastors, elders and deacons.
Bill & Tammy have a blog that is stocked with reviews and more, which has been growing in popularity. Check it out, if you haven’t already. http://coramdeotheblog.com/
Tim Trouten: “We, “re-create” ourselves so that we can live in the tension of a world that is full of thorns and thistles, but also one where we were called to tend the garden. There was initially joy in our work (pre-Fall), but God still provided a time for recreation.”
A daughter must know the likeness she has to her mother in gender, even calling. A mother’s delight gives her daughter well-being and shalom so that she may rest secure in her gender and being. In the milieu of her warmth, she soon will be a woman in her own right – differentiated from Mom & Dad and set apart for her calling.
A father delights in his daughter, and separates her from mama bear. He throws her in the air, while her mother gasps. She intuitively begins to sense from the other masculine gender of papa bear that she has a voice. A father separates and points her to her Father in heaven. She is told by papa bear that this is her Father’s world, and that He has a safe place for her to fulfill her calling in life. As she hears: “You are my daughter in Christ in whom I am well-pleased,” she obeys that voice and call on her life.
In marriage sons leave, but daughters are given. A father pledges to walk her out of her mother’s home, into education and vocation, and down an aisle to a godly man.
We walked our daughters to two godly men, who are both in Gospel ministry training. This picture speaks a 1,000 words, which we cannot put into words (Mom is weeping with joy and the sorrow of separation because they are so very close).
Good Words to My Five Sons. May this encourage you, too.
One: Arise from the battlefield and behold. Though death and wounds exist, you stand like warriors of old shouting victory with the sword of truth pointed to GOD Almighty. His last cry on the cross was a victory cry, it is your security in suffering. Morning has dawned in your life. Joy is going to flood into your soul like a pool of water in the wilderness. Pant after Him and His love. It shall be better than life and make His Presence distinguish you among all the other writers & teachers. You have suffered the loss of a daughter, and courageously carried her casket in front of a cloud of witnesses, leading us to sing a hymn. Your other daughters adore you, and your son looks to you for the fatherly blessing.
Two: You shall prosper & be mighty in the land. No weapon formed against you shall stand. You shall rejoice soon when morning comes with joy and your name all over it. You shall stand tall in your identity and be posted secure in your calling as a Gospel preacher. Fear not, GOD is with you. It SHALL come to pass. Shepherd the flock under your care – your wife and four little sheep.
Three: You shall prosper and be established in the land. You shall mount up and be established on firm ground. No one can stand against you when you will become God-hungry and humbly love well. Morning is come with joy and victory over mourning, weeping, & darkness in your life. Stay near Him whose Presence shall distinguish you as a father to your sons and soon-coming-daughter.
Four: The Lord is establishing you. Morning dawns with joy in your life. No more weeping, darkness, and night. It has ended. Soon you shall be fortified to enter more fully a age-old battle of generations and enjoy your inheritance. No one will be able to stand against you as you draw near, panting after God. His Presence alone is what will distinguish you among all the others. Fear not. See how God gave you pastoral ministry with a man of God, and there is much to learn.
Five: You shall prosper and be mighty in the land. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. God will establish the work He has begun in you. A time is coming, soon, when Nehemiah 6:16 shall come to pass in your life. Indeed, this is happening now. See how God has raised you up at such a young age in that high tower of a work place. Walk humbly under God’s mighty Hand, and He shall exalt you to make much of Him in due time. You are pursuing a godly woman, and i delight in your masculinity.
In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus was tempted by Satan when He was obedient and loved by the Father, led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He was tempted when He was alone and hungry before preaching from Isaiah 61 in His hometown in three ways:
- Be Self-Centered: turn the stones into bread. Use creation and people for yourself.
- Be Spectacular: fall from the top of the temple and the angels will catch you at the last moment, then people will see you are amazing.
- Be Self-Sufficient: Live as if you are not in union with the Father and the Spirit, and all this power will be yours.
Jesus was determined to be self-giving, ordinary and human, and dependent upon the Father and the Spirit as a human. In weakness, humanity, and dependency He defeated the Evil one, who said: “If you are the Son of God . . .” He lived out of His true identity.
Have you ever been tempted to be some one you are not?