With Intent (Newsletter 4-4)

With Intent by Mark Johnson

Jesus walked with intent. You see it in the way He went to Samaria. It is obvious in the way Jesus handled His disciples. He sent the disciples ahead and dismissed the crowd, while He tarried to pray alone. Later that night, as the disciples labored in the boat against the winds and waves, Jesus came walking on the water. There is a great statement recorded in Scripture concerning that night. It says, “He … would have passed by them” (Mark 6:48). They cried out to get His attention. Jesus intentionally sent His disciples ahead of Him. He used this as an opportunity to teach them and grow their faith and trust in Him.

Even in His final words, Jesus laid out His intent for the future of the good news. The Bible says the gospel would start in Jerusalem and Judea, go to Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth. The Book of Acts is built on those simple words, as the gospel moved from the outpouring of the Day of Pentecost to Samaria in Acts 8, and the Gentiles in chapter 10. Paul continued through the rest of the Book of Acts, following Jesus’ intent by taking the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. The rest of the disciples and apostles also carried the gospel past Jerusalem into the uttermost parts of the earth.

A relevant leadership book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey, says one of the habits is to begin with the end in mind. Start with what you want to see or complete, and then work backwards to get all the pieces in order to get to your expected end result.

Obviously Jesus didn’t read Covey, but perhaps Stephen Covey copied the principle from God’s plan of salvation that He hinted at in the Garden of Eden.The Book of Genesis prophesied that man was going to bruise the head of the serpent. It has been almost six thousand years since that statement was spoken, but we are still living that plan today. God saw the end result,  and He has been working with us since then to help us reach His target for us. Jesus knew He needed men to carry on His message, so He took the disciples along with Him. Jesus intended all along to leave the message with the disciples.

Jesus left when the disciples failed. When the pressure of Christ’s looming death built up, they all cowered and ran. Peter had even denied knowing Jesus three times, within earshot of Jesus. What a group to plan your future on! Jesus knew the words He shared in private would resound in the hearts of His disciples when it came time for their public ministry. The lessons Jesus taught by the fireside would stand strong when the disciples were in kings’ courts. He knew the words spoken in secret would be shouted from the mountains by His disciples. Jesus spoke in parables to the crowds.

But in private, He explained to His disciples. Jesus taught them even when He knew they could not fully understand until the Resurrection. On the road to Emmaus, two disciples said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts bum within us?” after Jesus had expounded about the Resurrection privately. Paul took John Mark with him on his missionary journey. He took Silas. He took Demas, even though Demas went home. It seems Paul never went alone. He was always training someone. Paul called himself a spiritual father who had begotten the Corinthian church. (See I Corinthians 4:15.) Every pastor has the intent of the gospel living beyond themselves-the intent of teaching eternal truths the next generation will carry on. As pastors we meet with young people to answer their questions and share our heartbeat.

Pastors see ahead and work to birth the vision of the church that they see in the future, not just the church of today. Creating the church of the future requires intentional investment in the foundation, building up men and women whose faith will stand the test of time, teaching up close and behind the scenes, so to speak. It is really about allowing young people to catch the heartbeat of their pastor and see the reality of serving the risen Christ. Our goal is for the Apostolic church to prosper until the Lord returns. Having men of faith speak into my life as a youth was vital to my faith becoming rooted in Christ. Not just over the pulpit, but up close, on Saturday outreach, or gathering to sell peanut brittle. They met with me after choir practice and asked how I was doing. It wasn’t even just the pastor, but the men of the church who took me under their wing and spoke good things into my life. Those men were very intentional in speaking to me. Some lessons can be learned only up close. Jesus brought the disciples close and taught them. Paul took men with him. This is the model we need. Bring your young men and women close and teach them eternal truth. Cast the vision up close. Speak directly into their lives. See young men and women as effective soul winners , evangelists, and ministers. Teach them and develop them and then release them into the harvest field. The world awaits the gospel!