I just had the privilege a couple of days ago on the first Sunday of the year to preach my first live sermon since mid-March of 2020. Actually, yesterday I did two prerecorded messages at two different churches. I spoke live at Fort St. John, British Columbia which is a church we did a transitional pastorate in several years ago and where we are currently living right now. The title of the message was “A Swing Thought or 2021.”
Those of you who golf may know that a swing thought is the one thought you need to keep in mind to make sure your swing works. It’s easy to get thinking about 50 different things while swinging like your wrist, rotate and follow through, and bend your knee and whatever mechanics you think of for golfing. Instead of thinking of all those things, there’s just this one thought.
You can view the entire message here: https://youtu.be/CCqSirg7a74
Message starts at about 42:30.
When I was golfing at my best, my swing shot was keep your head down and follow through, keep your head down and follow through. When I was not golfing well, I was thinking of all kinds of things and it just didn’t work, so that was the metaphor of the message that I was going to build a swing thought for 2021.
I built it around a verse in a book called Philemon verse six, which is actually a difficult verse to translate for multiple reasons I won’t get into. If you go look at a few different translations, you’ll see that it comes up quite differently. But many years ago when I was reading through my old NIV Bible, I came across this verse six in Philemon and I marked it and basically remembered it almost immediately because it spoke to me so directly.
Philemon six in this old NIV version (it’s actually different in the new NIV) reads, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” The way it comes off in that translation is that if we are sharing our faith, if we are participants in the gospel, then we will understand every good thing we have in Christ.
So I built the swing thought around that idea. I added Luke chapter five where Jesus called His disciples, Peter, James and John, beside the lake to follow Him where He says I’ll make you fishers of men. Follow me and you’ll catch people. Luke 19 with Zacchaeus where He said the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Also Matthew 28, the great commission where He says make disciples and Acts 1:8 about receiving power when the Spirit comes in you and being my witnesses.
The point is that you can’t really understand Jesus unless you understand His mission. He’s not just a great teacher and a miracle worker; He is God, the Son who came in the flesh to pay the price. He died on the cross and rose from the grave. He is seated at the right hand and He’s in charge of everything.
If we are His disciples, if we’re His followers, we are on mission with Him. So it then makes sense as Philemon six says, “I pray you’ll be active in sharing your faith. I pray that you’ll be on mission and you’ll have a complete understanding of every good thing we have in Jesus.”
I’ll say to you, as I said to the virtual congregation on Sunday as I spoke on the live stream, I’m going to say a phrase and I want you to say the first thing that comes to mind and the phrase is this “The Blues Brothers.” If you grew up in my era, if you know anything about the original Blues Brothers movie, probably the phrase that comes to mind is “on a mission from God.” Dan Akroyd said it multiple times in that movie: “We’re on a mission from God.” If you want to see the context a little more, just go on YouTube and do a search for a blues brothers “on a mission from God” and you’ll see there’s one video I found that has all the clips of Dan accurately saying that phrase.
That is the swing thought that I am suggesting we take into 2021. We are on a mission from God regardless of what happens, whether there’s a third wave or COVID-21 or some kind of meltdown or reset or whatever else. We’re on a mission from God.
If you think back to the start of 2020, how might 2020 have been different for us if that was our mindset. Regardless of what happens, we see it as an opportunity, a context for us to be on a mission from God, rather than making it about something else. Rather than making it purely about our rights or politics or something else that we look at everything through the lens of mission; joining with Jesus on his mission.
The one very specific application I am suggesting is that one thing you can do to join Jesus on mission immediately is to develop a list of people in your life who God’s designed for me to pray for them and possibly even witness to them. I challenge you to make a list of at least 20 people, half of whom are live in the your local area, that you will pray for regularly and see what happens.
Doors may open and there may be opportunity for more to happen, but at least pray. That’s half the job of the mission. That’s half the job of evangelism is praying for people. I encourage you to pray according to Acts 26:18 where the apostle Paul shares with Agrippa of his call to the Gentiles from Jesus: “I’m sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light from the power of Satan to God, that they would forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
That’s kind of a description of what needs to happen for someone to become a follower of Jesus and it’s a great prayer when you see someone or think of someone who is in your life, you can pray for them. “God, I pray their eyes would be open. I pray they would turn from darkness to light from the power of Satan to God. I pray that they will come to the place where they receive forgiveness of sins and a place among your people.” Then I encourage you to say, “Lord, and I’m available beyond this intercession. I’m available if there’s more that you want me to do.”
So as you enter this new year or the next month or next year of your life, here’s a thought to go into it with: I’m on a mission from God. A very important part of that mission is to be interceding for people who yet need to come to know Jesus and to be available to do something about it.
Just remember you are called to join Jesus on mission. He has been given all authority and He invites you to join Him, and He promises to be with you. You are on a mission from God.
God bless and press on.