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Sunday, June 25, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "The People On Your Fridge"

“The People On Your Fridge”
Gospel Roots (1892-2017)
June 25, 2017 :: Acts 1:8

This is our 6th monthly message in our ongoing Gospel Roots sermon series.

We are looking back over the foundational values and practices and principles that undergird and nourish who we are today.

What is the root system that our church has grown up out of?

The first and most foundational gospel root was the gospel itself: Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

The second was about singing the gospel together. Worship.

The third was about sharing the gospel with lost people. Evangelism.

The fourth was about being a praying church. Devoting ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

And the fifth message was about building our church on the word of God. Remember the Swedish phrase, “Var står det skrivet?” “Where stands it written?

Well, today, I want to talk about the people on your fridge.

Now, if your family is anything like our family, you have pictures of your family on your refrigerator.

Maybe a sports picture (or 20!) of kids with a baseball bat on their shoulder or in a football or wrestling uniform.

And maybe a picture of everybody in your family at the beach. The cousins.

But you also probably have pictures on your fridge of people who aren’t in your biological family. It’s their family all standing or sitting together and smiling for the camera, and there are words on the picture. They say, “ReachGlobal” or “Miracle Mountain Ranch” or “Word of Life” or “TEAM.”

They are missionaries.

For every one of these Gospel Roots messages, I’ve had some historical artifact in this box. Today it’s the prayer cards that often go up on our fridges.

These are too small for you to see, but there’s a whole bunch of them.

You know why?

Because this church has been incredibly dedicated to world missions for a very very long time.

If they had had fridges back then, this fellow would have been on the fridge of the church family back in 1897.

I took this picture at EFCA One. They had a great big board of historical photos. And I took a picture of his picture. He wasn’t actually there!

Does anybody know who this debonair dude is? He’s got an epic beard that would go great in today’s beard culture.

And it’s not Buffalo Bill Cody.

Anybody know who it is?

This is Frederick Franson.

Born June 1852 and died in August 1908, Frederick Franson was an associate of D.L. Moody and an early leader among the Free Churches and other ethnically Scandinavian denominations.

He founded six missionary agencies including the Scandinavian Alliance Mission.

And in 1897, Frederick Franson visited a little church in Lanse, Pennyslvania.

That was 120 years ago. Our church was only 5 years old.

This is what Bea Johnson wrote in our history book, “In the winter of 1897, there was a spirit of revival in the church, and as a result, many people came to know the Lord as their personal Savior. During that time of revival, a young man by the name of Frederick Franson came to visit the fellowship. Rev. Franson was the founder of TEAM, then known as the Scandinavian Alliance Mission. He was a firm believer that time was short and that the Lord’s return was very near–this conviction spurred him to go to Scandinavian churches to try to recruit men and women for missionary service. No one in this newly organized congregation volunteered for full time missionary work, but the leaders of the church promised Rev. Franson that they would support the Scandinavian Alliance Mission financially until the Lord would return” (“Lanse Evangelical Free Church 1892-1992: A Centennial Celebration).

And we are keeping that promise still today.

Down through the years, we have supported many missionaries with two missions that could claim some descendancy from Franson, TEAM and ReachGlobal.

Bea writes that in three years later in 1900, “contributions to missions totaled $494.29. This was considerable more than the cost of the new church building that had been erected during that year” (Ibid)! I love that!

In 1905, “the church had the privilege of seeing one of its members, Carl Nelson, answer the ‘call’ to become a missionary in China.”

That’s decades before anybody in this building was even born.

If you read the history, missions appears again and again all throughout the decades.

For example, in 1949, the pastor of Lanse Free was a man named Harold Swanson. And Pastor Swanson challenged the church family give at least ten percent of the church budget to missions.

Right now, amazingly, the percentage has grown closer to 25%! Every time you give a dollar, a quarter of that goes out from here to somewhere else to mission support.

And when you throw in things like special offerings to missions projects like Family Bible Week missions project? The percentage is probably more like 30%!

And there have been so many individual missionaries that we have supported.

Some of you are old enough to remember names like David and Gwen Greene and Earl and Angie Miller and David Tader.

I didn’t know them, but I did know these people:

Bob and Joyce Dignan.

The Dignans were with TEAM in Korea. We partnered with them for over 40 years!

Or this sweet lady. Elizabeth Anderson.

Or does anybody know these people?

Tim and Debbie. We began supporting them in 1981 at $100 a month. That’s 36 years! If we had never increased our giving to them, that’s $43,200.

Kim and Jan. Through the years.

They are the same people, but they change, don’t they?!

Here’s some from 1988. Our own home grown missionaries.

John and Becky.

Years later, we would send out some more from our church.

Bruce and Donna.

Here’s some more from the 80's era:

Jim and Kay. They are still ours.

Henoc and his family. They are still ours.

Sent out in the 80's, still serving today.

There are many more than I can list.

And more than I have fridge cards for!

All because this church has been dedicated to world missions for a very very long time.

There have been a LOT of people on our fridges!

Why is that?

It’s because of Acts chapter 1, verse 8. Isn’t it?

Our Lord Jesus was eating with his disciples, after His resurrection[!], and they asked him when He was going to return and set up His kingdom.

And Jesus told them that wasn’t something for them to know.

We don’t know when Jesus will return. We know that He will return! But we aren’t told the times or dates.

And while we wait expectantly, just like Frederick Franson, we are supposed to be busy reaching our world for Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls it “being his witnesses.” Look at verse 8.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Now, there is a lot of things we could say about that verse.

Some people have made it into a strategy for local church outreach. First, you reach your Jerusalem (Lanse), then you reach your Judea (Central Pennsylvania), then you reach your Samaria, the people who are not like you but are right here next to you, and then you reach out to the ends of the earth.

That’s not a bad idea, to think about who is in those categories for us.

But that’s not why Jesus said what’s in Acts 1:8.

He said it because that’s what they were going to do.

This is a promise and a prophecy.

Acts 1:8 is the table of contents for the book of Acts.

Acts 1:8 is exactly what happened!

Chapters 1-7 of Acts are about the gospel in Jerusalem.

In chapter 8, the gospel makes it to Judea and Samaria.

And by chapter 13, there are missionaries named Paul and Barnabas who start taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Paul and Barnabas were the guys on the fridge cards of the church at Antioch and the churches in Galatia.

And now the gospel has reached all the way to Central Pennsylvania!

And it’s still going out to the “ends of the earth.”

That’s why we do missions.

Because Jesus told us to!

He said this would happen, and He wants us to be involved.

Because it’s not just a promise, it’s a command.

When he says, “You will be my witnesses...” that means He wants us to do it.

Like when Mom says to clean your room, “You will clean your room.” That’s a prophecy, and it’s also a command.

“You WILL BE my witnesses.”

Being witnesses is not an option for the followers of Jesus Christ.

A witness is someone who gives testimony. A witness is someone who has seen something or experienced something and can tell others about it.

These men in Acts chapter 1 were eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ!

And you and I are ear-witnesses. We have heard the good news that Jesus is alive, and we need to tell others.

And we’ve all experienced Him at work in our lives.

And we need to tell others.

“You WILL BE my witnesses.”

Jesus also said, “go and make disciples of all nations...” (Matthew 28:19).

He gave the church a Great Commission, marching orders.

And they can’t be fulfilled by our just sitting around.

“You will be my witnesses.”

How are you doing at that?

How are we doing as a church on the whole of sharing the gospel with others?

How are we doing as a church of taking the gospel to those who don’t have it yet?

I don’t know about you, but I need constant encouragement to keep doing it.

I see three big motivators in this passage.

First off, Jesus is alive.

That will make you want to be a witness!

Verse 3 says that “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.”

This isn’t a fairy tale. This is history.

A man died and three days later came back from the dead!

That should motivate us to be a witness.

The second motivation is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised this gift in verse 4 and told them not to try witnessing until the gift had arrived in Jerusalem.

And then in verse 8, Jesus said the gift of Holy Spirit would empower them.

“[Y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you...” And that’s exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost.

And that’s how they had the power to go from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and then to the ends of the earth.

We don’t do this witness thing on our own. We do it in the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

And the third motivator is the return of Christ.

In verse 9, Jesus ascends into heaven. He gives the marching orders and then returns to the Father.

But that’s not the end of the story. Two angels appear and say, “Don’t just stand there. Get busy. Because (v.11) “[t]his same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'

And you don’t want to be wasting your time while you wait for Him!

The EFCA has always emphasized the return of Christ and how that should motivate us to be busy evangelizing the world.

The resurrection, the Spirit, and the return of Christ empower and motivate us to be Jesus’ witnesses in all the earth.

“You will be my witnesses.”

Three simple points of application today.

#1. GO.

“You will be my witnesses,” and He is Lord, so we better do it.

Now, we already had a message about local evangelism in our community.

Bus ministry, Wild West Day, Wild Game Dinner and all that.

But it’s important to think about how we are doing it today. Who are you inviting to Family Bible Week, for example?

Who are you inviting to the Good News Cruise?

And more importantly, who are you sharing your testimony with these days?

Go to them with the gospel.

But somebody’s got to take that gospel to the ends of the earth!

Not just around here but around the globe.

Go!

I love it that this church has seen its members go off into world missions, the Carl Nelsons, the John & Beckys, the Bruce & Donna’s, the Steve & Tirzah’s.

They weren’t with us back then but the Judy Carlsons and the Nancy Wertz’s.

And now Abraham and Jordyn!

I love that. Do you guys have a fridge card yet?

Who else wants to go?

It might be just a short-term trip.

Nesta Kephart went to Haiti back in the day. So did Tom Fisch. Schenley’s been in short term trips.

Our youth group went into the inner city of Brooklyn in 2000 for a week.

We sent Tom to Thailand for 9 months and Katie to China short term.

And in very recent years, we sent whole teams on short term trips:

Serbia in 2012

Mexico in 2014

Pittsburgh in 2015

And Denham Springs in 2017! [They didn’t get their picture taken together!]

I wonder what’s next?!

I also wonder who is the next career missionary we have among us?

Are you called to go?

It could be a young person. It could be an older person.

God calls all kinds of people into missionary service.

Single people. Like Tobi.

Married people. Like Phil and Ruthann.

Families.

Is the Lord calling you to serve Him in missions?

I’ve been praying for 19 years that the Lord would regularly raise up people from within our own church family and launch them into intercultural, international ministry.

Of course, not everybody can go far away. But everybody can....

#2. SEND.

I remember what a missionary speaker once said that made a great impression on me. He said that you only have 3 choice when it came to missions, “Go, Send, or Disobey.”

Because Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And it takes a TEAM to get them there.

We all work together to make it happen.

Our most recent new missionaries are:

Zeke & Meagan
Darko & Elizabeth
Donnie & Tonya

And Rich and Anne.

You know, we haven’t even met them in person yet.

John and Becky knew them and we skyped with them to interview them.

But you know why we began to be a part of their sending team?

Because of the promise our forefathers made to Frederick Franson!

These folks are members of TEAM.

And we hope to meet them for the first time this Fall.

Thank you for sending them.

When you give your regular gift in the offering, you are automatically involved in sending and supporting these servants of God.

And together, we are taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Of course, you don’t have to just send our LEFC missionaries! We’ve got missionaries on our fridge that aren’t a part of the missions ministry here at Lanse Free Church. You’ve met some of them over the years.

You’ve probably got missionaries on your fridge that we don’t have on ours.

That’s how this task gets accomplished!

By everybody not only going to the extent they are called but everybody helping to send missionaries where God is calling them.

What are you doing to be involved in sending?

Maybe you need to talk with Abe and Jordyn about joining their support team?

Last one. I changed it from disobey. Go, Send, and...

#3. PRAY.

Why are these folks on our fridges?

Why are they hung on the wall in the back of the auditorium?

Why are they on the map out in the foyer?

To remind us to pray for them!

This week at EFCA One, I ran into a missionary couple who had been here on our campus for the district conference in 2013.

They are now missionaries in Panama.  John and Bianca.

They had another couple with them that I met this as well, Frank and Silvia.

Wonderful servants of the Lord with ReachGlobal.

You know what they did? They invited me to come to Panama and bring a group if we felt so called.

But they also reached out and handed me these cards to put on my fridge or my filing cabinet and said, “Please pray for us.”

They are on the front lines of missions ministry.

They are being Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth.

And what do they want most from us?  Prayer.

It’s the least we can do. What is your commitment to praying for missionaries?

How do you do it?

What do you need to do more of?

Jesus said, “[Y]ou will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

So we better go, send, and pray.

Let’s do it right now!


***

Previous Messages in This Series:

01. Jesus Christ and Him Crucified
02. Sing!
03. Lost and Found
04. The Church That Prays Together


1 comments:

How appropriate to be on the fridge of Lanse Evangelical free Church as we train leaders to multiply the gospel through people of peace hungry for the Lord