Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Outreach Reflections from Psalm 1

I have completed my final assignments for the Masters of Arts in Christian Outreach program that I have been taking online through Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota. It feels so good to be done! In my last course I was introduced to a book written by Dr. Philip Bickel titled Outreach Promises (Roller Coaster Press, 1998) http://www.rollercoasterpress.com/ . The concept and purpose of Outreach Promises is to seek and find Biblical promises from God to enable you to share your faith “whenever you have opportunity to serve and speak in the name of Christ” (p. 5). I have decided to take the challenge to find outreach promises in the Psalms and reflect on the encouragement that they provide for us as we go about sharing Christ’s love with others. It is my prayer that my words and reflections will be an encouragement to you. I hope that they will help you to see the opportunities that God has placed before you to be His witness. I have come to understand that outreach begins with us where we are and the best opportunities to carry out God’s mission is to the people around us. I hope this discussion allows us to have a dialogue with each other and will allow me to be as much a student as I am a teacher. I have chosen to use God’s Word (Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society) for all of my texts. I like this translation because of its contemporary use of the English language. It is very easy to read and, especially in the Psalms, it has retained the poetic style of the songs.
Psalm 1: 1-3 "Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. Rather, he delights in the teachings of the Lord and reflects on His teachings day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams – a tree that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does."
God promises that He will flow through us with His Word like life-giving water flows through a tree. This Word of God brings life and provides for the re-creation of life. Healthy trees bear fruit. And what is the fruit of a tree? Another tree. Healthy trees produce seeds that have the potential to grow into new healthy trees. Not all seeds become new trees, but in their season seeds germinate and become new trees. In this outreach promise we are told that God will work through us to produce fruit. Our task is to remain close to the source of the life-giving water. God’s role is to keep us healthy, full of joy and seed producing. God is the one who produces the fruit. So the pressure is off. Live in Christ. Delight in His Word. Grow seeds and let them fall around you or blow in the wind. Then when your seeds fall to the ground, trust that God will allow some of those seeds to grow into the next generation of seed producing trees.