In his book Fresh Power, pastor and author Jim Cymbala tells the amazing story of missionary couple David and Svea Flood. Theirs is one of the most compelling testimonies I have ever encountered. Words hardly do justice in relating the impact of their brief stay during 1921 in the Belgian Congo (later renamed Zaire but known today as The Democratic Republic of Congo). Please take time to read the Floods’ incredible story here. Suffice it to say, we can never underestimate the ultimate influence that pouring out our lives for the sake of someone else can have. Sometimes the chapters of our influence continue to be written well beyond our time. Like the passage in 1 Corinthians says, some of us get to plant the seed, and others get to water it; but it is God who gives it the increase (see 1 Cor. 3:6 – 8).
In 2011, as a way to help us accelerate our Foursquare mission to take the gospel worldwide, we introduced Five Targets that would provide the framework for the focus of the National Church Office and Foursquare Missions International. These targets are Leaders, Churches, Nations, People Groups and Resources.
True to these focused directives, and in order to build upon them, we issued a further challenge to “Accelerate—The Whole Gospel to the Whole World.” We declared that our ultimate call is to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We read through the book of Acts each month and were challenged to remember that the early church risked everything to take the good news around the globe. The result of their dedication was that the flame ignited in Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit was carried to Judea, Samaria and, eventually, the world. No other movement has ever intentionally connected generations, genders and ethnicities as Christianity has. No wonder it is the single most powerful story in all of history! (2011: Target 3/Nations)
This year, we celebrated the fact that the Lord was calling us to “Speak—Reclaim Our Voice.” The enemy tries to silence our voice and strip away our influence. We understand that the invisible church ultimately will become the irrelevant one. But as we read the Gospels together in 2012, we were reminded that God spared no expense in giving us His best—Jesus—who came, lived, died and was resurrected to give us hope that we have been called “for such a time as this” (see Esth. 4:14). Christ’s teachings, miracles and example of serving God all inspire us to lead with passion and focus. The church’s story is still being written—and we are helping to write it! Jesus is building His church, and the gates of hell will not stop it. (2012: Target 2/Churches)
The Power of Relationships
As we look forward to 2013, and to the season just ahead of us, one thing is apparent: The primary plan that ignited Christianity globally was a simple focus on discipleship. “One-on-one” was clearly Jesus’ calling card. Who could ever forget Christ’s encounters with Zacchaeus, Bartimaeus or Matthew? While we tend to think in terms of “crowds” when reaching people with the gospel, Jesus thinks of “individuals.” Obviously Jesus was comfortable teaching and inspiring the multitudes, but He knew the ultimate goal of the kingdom was found in the dynamic of relationships. He chose 12 leaders to become His inner circle—and even narrowed that circle to a total of just three on several occasions. (2013: Target 1/Leaders)
Our focus during the coming year will be to “Read, Journal and Share the Word” with others. It is a simple call of personal discipline and discipleship. Marshall Shelley, editor of Leadership Journal, notes that leadership can be lonely, but never solitary. It means intentionally involving others. The apostle Paul said, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (see 2 Tim. 2:2, NIV).
My challenge to you in 2013 is not simply to journal, but also to intentionally engage in a mentoring relationship in order to share what you are learning with someone else.
Life Journal Project
When this December 2012 letter was mailed out, we enclosed the Foursquare Life Journal—our gift for you. The Life Journal Project begins on Jan. 1, 2013, and the book is everything you need to journey through the Bible in 2013 with the worldwide Foursquare family. I recommend you also use the journal with your small group or Bible study, as well as with your entire church family. You can customize it with your church’s logo and information on up to four pages, including the cover. Or, if you prefer pixels to paper, a browser-based Life Journal is available online at www.lifejournal.me. To order more copies, and choose from a variety of designs,visit the Life Journal website, or call 1.877.755.9555.
I believe the Lord is calling us to a new level of one-on-one relationships in 2013. In fact, the commitment to connect with our brothers and sisters in Foursquare is of paramount importance to the forward progress of our continued call as a family. Robert Flores, president of Life Pacific College, is engaging his entire faculty, student body and staff to participate in this 2013 journey as we foster a mentoring culture within The Foursquare Church.
For the coming year, our theme will be “Engage: Learn. Live. Lead.” Connection 2013 will be held in beautiful Lake Buena Vista, Florida (adjacent to Walt Disney World, Epcot and other theme parks). This completely unique setting itself invites times of fellowship, family togetherness and refreshing. You will be hearing a lot more about this, and information already is available.
Get Ready to Engage
Our 2013 theme of “Engage: Learn. Live. Lead.” leads me to personally express a depth of perspective that is stirred by what I believe the Lord is prophetically confirming to us as we conclude 2012 and prepare for a new season: Jesus did not come and die for systems, organizations or strategies; He came and died because of the high value He placed on relationships and on reconciling them to the Father.
He gave us a closing charge: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19, NIV). In doing that, we partner with Him to fulfill the highest call in which humanity could ever engage. It is the same call that inspired David and Svea Flood to risk everything.
I’m reminded that the term “Rules of Engagement” often has been utilized by our military for highly important missions or actions that require precise and clear guidance. Using such rules has led to accurate understanding, consensus, purpose, motivation and success. I submit to you that our own Rules of Engagement—the directives of our “high calling and mission”—have already been identified by our Lord. Jesus said that a good shepherd would leave the 99 and pursue the “one.” Isn’t that what’s missing? We focus on the crowd but often forget the one? We want to go across the ocean, but we neglect going across the street?
Svea Flood changed the spiritual face of a nation by pursuing the one. Let’s adjust our focus for the coming year and commit to being an instrument the Lord can use to help shape the lives of the “ones” right in front of us. It’s our call … and it’s their future.
Following are four Rules of Engagement we all can use in 2013. Let this very practical and spiritual set of guidelines stir vision and promote action as we go forward together into the coming year:
Rules of Engagement:
- We can only give out of what we are receiving from Him. Stay connected to the “life source,” and your ministry will be “life giving.” Open up daily for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit.
- We realize that discipline is the key to effective discipleship. Consistency of practice and clarity of purpose will result in kingdom advance, both personally and in the lives of those we lead. Pursue kingdom principles with passion, every day, in the Word and in prayer.
- We must move our attention beyond the vocational ranks of ministry and see every believer as our responsibility. They are primed for this great adventure! Recognize, encourage, shepherd and equip all of His people.
- If we focus only on ourselves, we will quickly lose His perspective and passion for His world. Find someone to pour your life into while opening your heart and life to someone pouring into you.
Let’s engage! Begin your Life Journal experience on Jan. 1, 2013, and stay spiritually connected with your Foursquare family every day.
By: Glenn Burris Jr., president of The Foursquare Church