Shared posts

22 May 17:23

So Others May Hear and Live

by Tim Challies

This sponsored post was prepared by Erik Odegard, Director of Fusion at Midwestern College.

“Oh God, please do whatever it takes to make me happy.”

This was the cry of a sixteen year-old unconverted boy we encountered on one mission trip. And while this statement may elicit a number of theological concerns, one thing it preeminently displays is a subtle distortion of man’s central need for God. Unfortunately, this error of self-orientation is repeated in the heart of every person who has sinned against God; it is in every single one of us. It comes as no surprise, then, that our young people are repeating this same cry day after day, in a million different ways expressing their inner longing for ultimate purpose in life. This is why Midwestern College’s Fusion program aims to help young believers answer this ultimate question of purpose, largely by reframing it.

Glory

Fusion walks adolescents through a directed process leading toward biblical adulthood. We believe that the distinguishing mark of a biblical adult is his or her living for the glory of God in every thought, word, and action. We understand that God’s ultimate purpose in all that he does is to exalt his glory; therefore, man’s purpose is to exalt him in all that he does. Fusion helps young believers to take personal ownership of a transcendent cause that motivates everything that they do. The greatest cause in all the world is the exaltation of God’s glory!

Gospel

Fusion recognizes that disciples will only live for God’s glory if they are compelled by the gospel.  So, we find means to constantly remind young believers of the gospel so that they will live sacrificially for God’s glory. Fusion “candidates” (first-year Fusion students) are placed into “cohorts” (teams) in order to practice life-on-life discipleship. Cohorts live, eat, sleep, work out, study, and train together for 120 days on campus. This has proven to be a powerful context in which to apply the gospel to every square inch of life.

Each cohort is given an “advocate” (team leader) who has a track record of living for God’s glory in all of life. The advocate mentors each candidate, leading by example and providing encouragement, direction, and gentle correction. Providentially positioned in Kansas City, Fusion teams have the privilege of receiving formal instruction on the gospel at Midwestern College, hearing and seeing it weekly in healthy church partnerships, and proclaiming it boldly throughout the city.

Globe

The greatest need across the globe is this the arrival of the gospel. This gospel must not be hoarded for ourselves, but must be heralded among the nations.  Jesus commanded, as his final assignment for His devotees, that disciples be made through the witness of His church among all the nations. And so the church will continue, trusting in Jesus’ promise that a number from every people group on the planet will believe, until this age ends at Christ’s return.

Yet global realities 2000 years later imply that this assignment has not been completed. The glory of God is not known nor appreciated among the 3.1 billion people of the world who have few, if any, Christians among their people. And it’s obvious why these people are still unreached. Unreached people groups are hard to reach. Only disciples who worship the One who laid aside all comforts and rights to save rebels will be willing to do whatever it takes to reach the unreached.

Fusion is raising up a generation of young believers who are compelled by the gospel to do whatever it takes to bring the light of the glory of God into the darkest places in the world. In a word, Fusion trains hard for hard places. Over the course of one semester, teams commit to a disciplined lifestyle to be sharpened in order to penetrate insulated nations. Teams are trained in new languages, world religions, Bible interpretation, and evangelism strategies in order to aptly communicate the gospel cross-culturally. Students become equipped to navigate public transportation systems, implement first aid and survival tools, maintain physical conditioning, and utilize security principles in order to cope with the harsh practical realities of life in hard places. The Fusion process is consummated in a 120 day deployment to faithfully use their training to enter tough places, proclaim the gospel, disciple those who believe, gather them into healthy churches, raise up biblically trained leaders, and entrust these people to their Overseer.

SOMHAL

I should tell you that the Lord graciously answered that teenager’s cry. After his conversion, he learned that his life was to be lived for the One who died for him and rose again (2 Cor. 5:15). It certainly made him happy, but only through his realizing that everlasting life brings a greater joy than circumstantial happiness could ever give! It was through the Fusion process that he was trained to live So Others May Hear and Live. That has become Fusion’s motto, our primary objective and directive, summed up in our commonly used acronym SOMHAL. But this directive shouldn’t just belong to us; rather, it ought to be the transcendent cause of every believer—to enjoy God and glorify him, especially through making disciples among all nations until Christ returns.  This is the cause we were created for and the only one worth living for. Our young believers are crying out for this ultimate purpose for their lives. Are we training them to live So Others May Hear and Live?

Watch a short video from David Platt about Fusion and learn more about the program and Midwestern College here.

22 Sep 14:32

Rumor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Play Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone Movie

Oliver Stone may have found his Edward Snowden. According to Deadline, even though no formal contract has been signed, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has told the controversial filmmaker that he is interested in playing the infamous former NSA contractor in a new biopic. Stone’s team has already secured the rights to a novel by Snowden—about a whistleblower seeking international asylum—and another journalistic book about his leak of top-secret documents. The movie is set to begin shooting in December ...

10 Aug 20:14

To Love Is to Be Vulnerable

by Courtney Reissig

In the months leading up to my wedding I had a recurring dream. It was a nightmare, really. While I had my fair share of dreams about my dress not fitting or forgetting to complete some vital detail, the one that haunted me was much darker. I regularly dreamed that something would happen to my fiancé. I would wake up haunted by the thought that the man I loved so deeply would either die tragically or leave me for someone else. As I shared my fears with a dear friend who had been married longer than I had, she spoke these encouraging words:

Every time you open your heart to love like you are now doing, you open your heart to more hurt and pain. Your heart is more vulnerable, but the love is worth it.

Fast forward four years and I'm now the mother of twin boys. Like many other expecting and new moms, I struggle with nagging fear that something tragic will happen to my babies. And on my most frightened days, I'm reminded of those wise words from my friend—to love is to be vulnerable.

This isn't a new concept. C. S. Lewis understood it well. In The Four Loves he writes:

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.

For Lewis, and for us, love means opening our hearts to pain and sorrow. But that's the point. The only alternative would be to live without love—to be alone forever. Yet deep within our souls we know we weren't created for such a lonely existence.

We Were Created to Love

God didn't fashion us void of feelings and emotions. We were made to love and be loved. This is why the pain of loneliness is often too much to bear. We naturally desire companionship, affection, fellowship. All of this requires opening our souls to others, thus making us susceptible to relational pain. Yet we do so anyway because deep within we know we were built for more than solitary existence.

When God created Adam, he declared it wasn't good for him to be alone (Gen. 2:18). To be created in God's image means to desire fellowship. For all eternity Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have enjoyed perfect love and fellowship that we, by our nature as divine image bearers, crave as well. It wasn't good for Adam to be alone because the Trinity isn't alone.

But a quick look around reminds us that something is tragically wrong.

Reality of a Broken World

Loving another does not ensure unending happiness. Spouses disappoint us. Friends betray us. Children rebel against us. Family members die and leave us.

Elisabeth Elliot knew better than most what it meant to love and lose. In The Path of Loneliness she writes, "To love means to open ourselves to suffering. Shall we shut our doors to love, then and 'be safe'?" That's the only alternative, really. But locking ourselves up and never facing another person won't fix what's really going on in our souls.

We can't pretend as Christians that we're immune to the ravages of sin, death, and sorrow any more than we can retreat from all things relational. In fact, Christians more than anyone else can love with reckless abandon since we know this isn't all there is.

Love and the Cross

If we only chose to love in situations free from vulnerability, we'd never love at all. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than at Calvary. There, the God who is love became vulnerable for sinners like you and me. He experienced the greatest pain imaginable—the death of his only Son—so that we could be made right with him.

A mother can love through the difficult months of pregnancy and the agonizing hours of labor because she knows at the end of the pain comes the baby she loves so deeply. So also Christ loved through the darkest moments of the cross because he knew at the end he'd be glorified and his people would be redeemed. He knew the joy that awaited if he loved to the end (Heb. 12:2).

Christians can love with the same freedom. While there's no promise of cost-free love, we know the deeper purpose behind it all. Our hearts laid bare to vulnerability is not the end of the story.