Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Protect your heart on a mission trip

In the previous post, I talked about the {heart} dangers of going on a mission trip. Most of these center around pride and self-love. It should not be a surprise to anyone that this is a huge danger. I am sure I am not the only one who battles pride in my life, right? Anyone? Anyone?

Then it should not be any surprise that the moment we are able to help others that there is a huge potential for our sinful flesh to take over and claim it all for ourselves - stealing the glory from the Lord.

We are to be working for the Lord, not ourselves.

But we are warned in Matthew 6:1 about doing good deeds for the attention and praise of others.

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." {Matthew 6:1}

There are a few things I highly recommend you do before, during and after you go on a mission trip.

1. First and foremost - are you a Christian? A true believer? Have you surrendered your life to the Lord, repented {which means to turn away from} of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Are you growing so close in your walk with the Lord that you hate the sin in your life? Do you feel like your sinful flesh is like an itchy, woolen sweater worn in late July?

Because if you are not already a Christian and you travel to a third world country on a "mission" trip, what is your mission? What do you hope to accomplish? The mission of a mission trip is to spread the gospel and love of Christ to all nations. If that is not your goal, then you are in serious danger of becoming puffed up with pride and you may need to purchase 2 plane seats for the trip home: one for you and one for your ego. Just sayin'.

But seriously, this is the most important decision you will ever make. There are only two choices. Choose to follow Christ and obey His commandments or choose to follow self and be on the road to destruction.  The choice seems easy to me.

2. Meditate on the characteristics of God. It may be tempting to start questioning God's goodness when you see people suffering in poverty and then reflecting on your own over-abundance. But remember, God is sovereign. He is in control of the entire universe. He knows what is best for you, for me and for all the people around the world. We know from Romans 8:28 that He does in fact, work it all for good. So it may not seem right that some people throw away more food than others have to eat, but we can trust God. God is good.

Meditate on these characteristics {and more}. Read your bible. Get a good book or two by trusted authors that will help guide you through studying the attributes of God. A couple of suggestions would be: The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life {Tozer} or The Attributes of God {Pink}.

3. Pray, pray, pray. Your trip needs to be covered with much prayer. Surround yourself with friends and family that will join you in prayer. Pray for safety but also pray for your heart to be changed in a good way. Pray that this trip will draw you closer to the Lord and His will for your life. Pray that you will be like the good and faithful servants in the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 and use the resources that God has blessed you with wisely.

A mission trip, either short or long, has the potential to be a life changing event - for the good or not-so-good. What a fantastic opportunity and blessing! Remember,

And whatever you do, in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
{Colossians 3:17}

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