Train to Live on Mission – Week 15

Battle Drill #15:

Search and Rescue!

Proverbs 8:1-36 (NAS95)

 

Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – “Search and Rescue!” I wrote a fictional story called, “The Rescue Mission,” a modern-day parable, about a rescue mission on Lake Michigan.

 

The Founders came to Christ while serving together in the US Navy in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. After experiencing tragedies, like the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, when these sailors came back to the states, they decided to build a light house and rescue people from a watery grave in Lake Michigan. The Founders worked regular jobs while setting up the rescue mission, bought land, built houses to live close to the rescue mission, married women who had a kindred spirit for the mission, and raised their children together. The second generation was raised on the mission, and they kept it going, making improvements in honor of their parents’ commitments to the vision. They believed in the mission, but they also saw the sacrifices of their parents and remembered not having a normal childhood, so they wanted to give their kids more of a “normal” life. For the grandkids of the Founders, the ever-expanding compound started to be upgraded. A pool was installed, recreational boats were put in next to the rescue boats. These kids played every day, went to school in the local community telling their friends all about how much fun their rescue mission was, invited them over for birthday parties, so as the third generation grew up, they knew there was a rescue mission, but now they just called the place they lived “The Rescue Mission.” Now the fourth generation was being raised on a place that looks more like a resort area than a rescue mission. You should see the renovated Light House. You can even walk up it and look out over the Lake and witness the expansion of the Rescue Mission with the RV park, water play area, miniature golf course, and more. It truly is beautiful. A great place to bring your kids for a family vacation.

 

Remember the original vision of the rescue mission on Lake Michigan. Did I tell you that after the Korean War, in the 50s, the Founders mortgaged their homes to buy a helicopter to help them with their rescue efforts? And then after Vietnam, as they got older and their kids were coming back from their war, they did the same thing with their homes to buy a Vietnam-era Huey. The crazy thing is by the time the third generation was taking over the rescue mission, they stopped using those helicopters for rescue efforts and started selling rides to families on vacation to the Lake. You should have seen how much money came in during the 90s and the improvements that were made around the place. Wow! What a sight They even built a museum to honor their grandparents’ mission and to remember all the rescued people, saved from certain death. The mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, and even the governor came by for the grand re-opening. The sad thing is, on that very day, six people died less than a mile out from “The Rescue Mission”; no one was on duty when the distress call came in.[1]

 

I pray the Holy Spirit will use this story to show us our need and help us learn how we need to train today’s battle drill so we, God’s Rescue Mission on earth, can live on mission today.

 

Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual.

The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs 8:17, 32-36:

 

I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me. … Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways. Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. But he who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death.

 

To better understand how I am applying this Scripture, you need to hear these verses in their context, as a part of the whole of Proverbs 8:1-36. Read from the Bible.

 

This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply today’s battle drill to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

 

Action Step #2) Train together as one unit.

As we look at Proverbs 8:32-36, we see the emphasis is upon daily watching, daily waiting, listening, walking in the ways of God’s wisdom:

 

Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, for blessed are they who keep my ways. Heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. But he who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death.

 

Responding to people and situations according to the heart of God requires a life of discipleship with Jesus Christ, the study of God’s Word, and the learning to listen to the Holy Spirit. The Church of Jesus Christ exists for the Mission of God on earth, but we cannot lose the heart of the mission because we have gone into maintenance mode on the upkeep of the infrastructure of the Rescue Mission itself.[2] That is why our greatest priority is to know God and to become like Him.

 

We must emphasize as our primary imperative, the building of a personal relationship with the mission’s Founder and His vision! If we emphasize who God is and His vision for His creation, then we cannot avoid becoming a missional people, for the mission is the heart of God and the very reason Jesus invites us to follow Him. Listen to Jesus’ invitation in Mark 1:17, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” In our commitment to follow Jesus faithfully, the Spirit of God transforms us into His likeness, with His heart, which is the life of search and rescue! This is the purpose of Christian discipleship – to transform us through the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). It is not the end game in and of itself – there is a vision!

 

Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval.

Search and Rescue missions are at the heart of God.  It is for this reason that He sent Jesus from Heaven to Earth, as explained by John 3:16-17:
 
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

 

Jesus’ parables, found in Luke 15, reinforce this purpose for God’s people:

 

  • The Lost Sheep (1-7).
  • The Lost Coin (8-10).
  • The Lost Sons (11-32).

 

All three parables end with celebration because that which was being searched for – the sheep, the coin, and the younger son – were found and returned safely. Success! Now, with that said, there is a necessary nuance to the last parable that we, as God’s people, need to hear, once again: The older son was also lost though he never left home. He didn’t share the heart of his father in the joy of his younger brother’s rescue. He lived on the “Rescue Mission,” but he wasn’t a part of the rescue effort; he made it all about him. We, as sons and daughters of God, need to hear this part of the story as it was intended – as a rebuke and as a warning; watch the exchange between the older son and his father in Luke 15:25-32:

 

Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.” But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, “Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.” And he said to him, “Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.”

 

While most of us do rejoice in being the younger son who was rescued, we must heed Jesus’ scathing rebuke of the Pharisees of His day and the Spirit’s warning to the Church today to not become like them in our spiritual pride and lack of concern for those who are lost, separated from God by their sin. We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ and go into the world, not to judge people, but to conduct search and rescue missions – to show them Jesus. And, furthermore, we are not to view the church community as one that keeps us “safe” from the world. In other words, we should not expect the church to be devoid of “messy” people who need Jesus. We must not only be willing to receive these people into our community, but we should be actively pursuing those whose lives indicate their own need for Jesus.[3]

 

This is the Great Commission of the Church of Jesus Christ, to join with Him in His great search and rescue mission, as commanded by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We are to train ourselves to live on mission today! That brings us to our closing point and response time.

 

Action Step #4) Live on mission.

I am going to end with an invitation that simultaneously calls sinners to repentance and the saints to obedience. In other words, I am ending with a response that impacts all of us, since we are sinners saved by grace, saints through Christ’s imputed righteousness alone. Pay careful attention to Jesus’ encounter and exchange with Zaccheus from Luke 19:1-10:

 

[Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

 

Are there areas of your life where you need to respond to Jesus’ invitation upon your life? Jesus sees you and He is calling out to you personally – to save you and to bring you into His Rescue Mission, simultaneously. He calls us to be saved so that we can be part of the rescue mission for others. Today is the day to respond to Him and to live on mission with Him. He rescued you and now He is calling you to be a member of His search and rescue mission team. There are people drowning out there, are you hearing their distress call?

 

Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] I cannot remember where the idea first came for my story, The Rescue Mission © 2022. If it shares elements of other stories or grabs at bits of history from my tours of light houses and visits to Lake Michigan, then I am happy to give credit where credit is due, whether for the idea and for any specific details that overlap.

 

[2] Curt Ferrell responded to this thought, “The more I study, the more convinced I am that ‘maintenance mode’ is the natural default if our soteriology is that Jesus came to provide a way for us to escape our bodies, and escape the earth so that we can live in heaven with Jesus. But if we can switch that paradigm to Gen:1-26-28, Matt 28:18-20, 2 Cor 5:17-21. We’ve been saved for mission here, not a cushy retirement plan in heaven.”
 
[3] Thank you to Emily Hurst for helping me expand this thought for those of us already inside the church community, and for those who will be coming in as members of the rescue mission, which is inherently a part of their salvation.
 
 

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