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FROM THE FIELD                                              October 31, 2013

Overextending?!( Read Paul in  2 Cor. 10:14 RSV ” we are not overextending ourselves…”
You would be hard pressed to find another Lutheran synod that has the outreach overseas based on per capita stateside that we have in the CLC. The Lutheran Brethren likely exceed us, but they have a stringent dictum on tithing. While among other Protestants the Christian and Missionary Alliance out does us, yet among so many Protestants they have lost the Great Commission which has been submerged among so many other things. We need to thank our Lord that He has given us, who are so few, so very much to do beyond the national borders of our country. A nagging thought can arise, “Are we overextending ourselves?” And in celebration of the momentous Lutheran Reformation let us extend.
When our Lord walked upon the earth He decidedly extended Himself in His endeavors to do all things according to the Father’s will and to fulfill all Scripture and the laws of God and man. He is our chief example. But someone might say, ‘Yes, though He was God also and can therefore far surpass our humble efforts.’ That really is a cop out though for not focusing all our efforts on the one thing needful and its deliverance to the peoples of the world. Come follow Me the Savior spake all in My way abiding. Deny yourselves, the world forsake… A good review of the Bible-based Hymn 421 in TLH would belie any idea of but ‘He was God and we can hardly….’ The little five year old follows his Daddy’s example regardless of differences in age and strength and wisdom. And does it even enter his mind, the limitations? He loves his Daddy and emulates. Remember the poignant scene of the little child placed in the midst of the apostles. I hope you get the idea of how this pertains to our outreach.
This old saying is never trite. It cannot be worn out through constant use. “Only one life life ‘twil soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Its enduring vividness is due to its reflection of Scripture. Many spend their lives in fretting over trifles and in getting things that have no lasting worth. We have found the treasure in the field. It loses no lustre with age. Copper turns a greenish color with oxidation through the years, a film or patina forming over it obscuring its original color. The pearl of great price retains its white light brilliance. The exposure of this to others captivates by divine power. Darkness is dispelled. The light is passed on from human breast to human breast. That ‘what’s done for Christ’ becomes an all consuming passion is well-attested to by the apostles.
And then there is that apostle that we know the most about whose thirteen epistles have their Spirit-wrought words beckoning extension again and again. Luke’s record on Paul in Acts does not even tell us all about how the untimely born extended himself really beyond comprehension. What did he do during those years after his conversion until Barnabas brought him to Antioch? What did he do after he was released from his second Roman imprisonment, let alone what did he all  do after release from his first Roman imprisonment? Did he get to Spain as he sought to speak in a clime unfamiliar with the Gospel showers of grace? What did he do in those early years in Arabia? While we know he got to Illyricum, we don’t know what he did there? His past recorded performance was proof of what he did though. This man’s words ring true, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” 2 Cor. 12:15 The question for us of this day is, ‘What will we spend?’ Paul as our example is not an unattainable one; he was not a God/man but in his own estimation foremost of sinners, in this way upon personal introspection remarkably like you and me. Does anyone detect even a whisper of the fear of ‘overextending’ in Acts which is the record of extension?
    As the rubber meets the road, here in India as elsewhere the opportunities beckon. As we look over what He has done through us, we may become  quite breathless trying to catch up to a Lord who is always ahead of us. Just through the Mission Board we work with over 60,000 souls in twelve countries. And then there are the opportunities that congregations and individuals have taken in hand! As it is with the athlete, Ohne Fleiss, kein Preis, so let us learn from Paul, “straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Phil. 3:13-14