“There's so much more. Let's get on with it!” Hebrews 6:3 (The Message) Back in the early founding days of this great nation of ours, America had two types of people – settlers and pioneers. Settlers brought order and stability to areas that were being settled by the early colonists of America. Pioneers however stayed on the move, trekking across new frontiers, exploring new territories and finding many of the treasures this new blessed land held. Without pioneers the great expansion of America from the East Coast to the West Coast would have never been accomplished. Pioneers are folks who inherently bring about needed change, and for many, change can be a truly unsettling concept to undertake. Noted car maker Henry Ford once described the type of employees that he was seeking for his new company, “I’m looking for people with an infinite capacity for not knowing what can’t be done.” Pause for a moment and re-read that statement and reflect on how it encapsulates the true spirit of a pioneer’s heart – one who is willing to boldly go where no one has gone before (“Okay, calm down all you Trekkies that suddenly began singing the original Star Trek theme)! In the 21st Century, many have let go of that ‘pioneer spirit.’ Case in point – we are about to end our nation’s Space Shuttle Program without having a replacement space vehicle … for what may be a decade or more, we will have to “pay” the Russians to ‘catch a ride into space’ at a price tag twice that of the current rate it takes with our Shuttle Program. Try and figure out that foolish logic! Sadly, many have come to believe that space exploration has little merit / potential for great gain, so they have decided to squash that explorer’s tenacious spirit that began in the 1950’s due to fear, economic costs and the loss of passion to push ahead into the unknown realm of space. Were it not for the ingenuity, accomplishments and great sacrifices of NASA astronauts, engineers and technicians which fueled our historic race to space from the 1950s to today, much of the technologies that we so commonly now enjoy - digital electronics, medicines, miniaturized TVs and computers - may have not yet been developed. When it comes to the 21st Church, a majority of Christ’s body have similarly determined that it is safer, more comfortable and less risky to stay right where they are (i.e. as a settler) than to pioneer new inroads to carry the message of the Gospel to unexplored / untapped areas of new missions / ministries. The reason for this has to do with the mindset of many of today’s believers. One pastor explains, “The contemporary church (today) has rejected the opportunity to be pioneers, opting instead to be simply a settlement. The church today sees itself primarily as a fortress to which believers can retreat from the pains and disappointments of daily living. The church today sees itself as an exclusive club created for the satisfaction of the believer’s social needs. The church today sees itself as a cloister (place of seclusion) designed primarily for the enrichment of the individual Christian’s personal piety, nothing more. The church today sees itself as a settlement of safety amidst the dangers and difficulties of our contemporary culture…The church (today) has become a settlement whose primary purpose is to take care of its residents rather than a community of pioneering pilgrims blazing a trail for the Kingdom of God.” I wholeheartedly understand and agree with the heart of this pastor’s discerning assessment of many of today’s churches. You see, God has created me to be a “spiritual pioneer” for the Kingdom of God and that is reflected by my heart in my ministry to others. I love challenging God’s people to step “out of the box” of man-made traditions. I love exposing the emptiness of religion while sharing how to receive God’s divine filling through a daily, love relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. I love to keep spiritually moving, to daily climb higher up the glorious mountain of God – a undertaking that demands courage, focus and a firm attachment to “the Rock” (i.e. Jesus Christ, Psalms 19:14) at all times! And I so deeply desire for others to join alongside me on the spiritual quest to ascend to greater heights of faith every new day. Pastor Dale Satrum of Foothills Community Church in Oregon shares this same passion in an entry he wrote on his blog back on September 4, 2008, “We (Christians) are NOT just hanging on until Jesus comes. We are on a journey with Jesus. We are heading to a better place; but in the meantime, we must be willing to keep moving, embrace the risks, endure some hardships, and keep traveling together living by faith. God has NOT called us to be settlers. Settlers play it safe, embrace security, try to protect what they have, and have stopped moving forward. This certainly does not reflect God’s heart for His people or for His church.” As God’s people, His Church, we must understand that we all are to be on a great adventure with Him and with those willing to sojourn together. Like the pioneers during our nation’s founding years, we must stay moving just as they did, all the while touching hearts and impacting lives through the love and compassion of Christ which we carry as a treasure within us (2 Corinthians 4:7). So take a few moments and reflect over whether you truly desire to serve in a modern day “settler church” – a church which is set in its ways, locked into its man-made traditions (Mark 7:8-9), and which refuses the divine call to change (“be transformed - completely changed;” Romans 12:2) for anyone or anything – or in a modern day "pioneer church" – a church that is fully committed to spending its life, however long that season may be, on the road of genuine faith, seeking new lands, following the lead of the Trail Boss (God), and watching with great excitement and wonder where He will lead them. Which group will YOU choose to fully commit to journey with in this great, exciting adventure called LIFE? Despite the fears of the unknown, the growing challenges of our day, the increasing intensity of the spiritual battles which surround us ... will you commit to “keep moving” with a pioneer’s heart, giving God your absolute best, or will you choose instead to remain on the crowded sidelines which are filled with "settler saints" who chose to quit long before seeing God’s best come out in and through their life journey with Him? The choice lies in the very heart of your attitude (Philippians 2:5) …Selah!
In lieu of a CCM video/song, today I felt led of the Lord to share a most powerful clip from one of the best Christian movies made, "Facing the Giants."