Monday, December 01, 2008

God's Plan, My Plan

by Dr. Dennis Wiles
Chairman of the Board of Directors, GCPN

God has a plan. Isaiah describes the intentionality of God's faithful plan in chapter 25 as marvelous things, things planned long ago. Isaiah's prophecy about God's future plans declares-

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples...
on this mountain he will destroy the shroud
that enfolds all peoples,the sheet that covers

all nations
; He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will Wipe away tears from all faces. (Isaiah 25:6-8)

Yes, God has a plan. Therefore, any plans you or I have must be painted against the backdrop of God's eternal plan of redemption for all peoples. This is the joy and the challenge of leading our churches to be missionally formed. There is no higher call or purpose than to participate in God's plan and to lead our churches on that journey. The temptation we often face is to limit our plans and dreams to our own abilities and our own resources. We must pause to realize that God has already painted the future and our role is to fill in the fine details. He places the brush in our hands to fulfill that portion which he has pre-ordained us to do. Thus, we paint with freedom and with the blessing of God as we join him in what He has already planned. The only limitations on the gospel are those we place on it. While painting, we do not gaze into our own resources or ingenuity, but we gaze into the mind and heart of God.

God is not required to provide for my plan. But He does provide for His own plan. As long as what I am doing is contributing to the accomplishment of His plans, the resources of God are available to me. When I come to believe this, the wealth of the Kingdom becomes accessible. I can view the Kingdom as a whole and join in on Kingdom endeavors. God thinks comprehensively. In order to join him we must have grand ideas. Rarely does God think small scale. God thinks God-sized thoughts and dreams God dreams.

I am convinced we are often impressed with the wrong things. We focus on Pharaoh and not on Joseph. The power and plans of Egypt were temporal. But God was fulfilling His redemptive plan. Egypt was successful. But God's provision was not for Egypt. It was for Israel. He was not providing for Egypt's plan. He was providing for his own plan and used the resources of Egypt to accomplish His own will. When it was time for God's people to accomplish His plan, all resource was available to them.

The limitations we place on the power of the gospel are self-imposed. The church must cease thinking from our limited perspective. If we can touch our horizon, it is one we have painted on our own canvas, not the one God has painted on the canvas of his plan. Why would we want to live our lives within the confines of our own horizon? If you reach your own horizon, you have accomplished your own goals. If you are moving toward God's horizon, you and your church will go places you could have never imagined in your wildest dreams. One is chaff. The other - of eternal immeasurable worth.

It is God's plan for all peoples that keeps me from giving up on a church-based model of mission. In spite of our imperfections, I strive to maintain the same level of confidence in the church that Christ had when he said, upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. If I lose faith in the church as God's means of reaching the world, I am falling short of the mind and will of Christ. The church must be led, formed and empowered. With Christ as the head, I have no doubt these are reasonable tasks.

If you need to be reminded of the power of the gospel or the incredible resiliency of the church I pray that this will be a time when you experience a renewed vision of God's plan for the church. It is time to join in on the grand faith venture to take the gospel to all nations through all possible means. God's vision is grand enough. The church is sufficient in Christ and the gospel possesses all power for the salvation of all peoples.

The GCPN Board of Directors and staff value your partnership on this Kingdom journey. For those of you who are new to the network - welcome. For those who have been enduring through the seasons of formation and definition, thank you. For those who have given counsel and shaping guidance - we are grateful. Let us press on together with patience and endurance toward the horizon God has set before us. Let us be found faithful!

Together in the Kingdom,