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Everything listed under: Created to Live SENT

  • Embrace the Journey

    The following is a story I tell from the book backwards: Created to Live SENT

    I grew up in Alaska, the son of a missionary couple, Paul and Ruthie Kendall. We spent two of our summers before I was sixteen crisscrossing the lower 48 to raise funds. I was still a young man when I could say I’d been to 49 states (Hawaii had to wait). That adds up to a lot of time in the car together!

    My dad was old school when it came to traveling. In his mind you drew a line from where you were to where you wanted to go. Everything was focused on the destination. We learned to hold it—you know what I mean. And when we did stop, we attempted to set a new record for the fastest pit stop. We got gas, food, and did our business in record time. Occasionally, we even timed our stops. You got to relax when we arrived at our destination; until then it was full speed ahead.

    One summer we were traveling on the Alcan Highway just outside Dawson Creek, Canada, when I received a strange prompting. It was a thought that seemed to come out of nowhere. We had just stopped to eat lunch at an A &W Root Beer Drive In. Afterwards, we piled back into the car, and when we did, I traded seats so that I was sitting in the front seat on the passenger side.

    A few miles down the road we saw a sign that said, Buckle your seat belt. Someone loves you.

    Being a young teen I was squarely in the middle of adolescence. I immediately countered with the thought, No one loves me.That wasn’t true, but I didn’t have a girl friend I reasoned to myself. That thought among others led me to question whether I was loved. Then the thought came again, buckle your seatbelt God loves you. That motivated me to action, so I buckled my seatbelt.

    Before long we passed a pickup truck with four teens jammed into the cab: two guys and two girls. They were poking along like they had something other than driving on their minds. The next thing we knew, they had stepped on the gas and passed us.

    When they did, they all turned around and looked and stared at us. We thought maybe they saw our Alaska license plate and they wanted to see if we looked like Eskimos. Or perhaps the teenage driver was just filled with testosterone and wanted to show off by passing the family station wagon.

    Once they passed us they slowed down again. Assuming that they made their point, my dad pulled up beside them to pass them back. We were about a foot ahead of them when they made a left-hand turn directly into the front quarter panel of our car. They struck our vehicle literally a foot from where I sat. The contact drove us off the road into a ditch. We hit the ground without the benefit of time for my dad to hit the brake. We were probably traveling nearly 70 miles an hour at impact. The sudden impact propelled my brother forward from the very back of the car where he had laid down to sleep on top of the suitcases.

    Miraculously, my Dad caught him before he hit the windshield. It was a reflex action, but it saved my brother Brad’s life. The car was a wreck but we survived—all of us. My dad had bruises from the steering wheel. My mom was bruised from hitting the back seat. Brad was sore from his flight through the air which came to an abrupt stop. I survived without bruises or injuries. You couldn’t even tell that I was in a wreck.

    When I climbed out my door, I remembered the sign we passed a few miles earlier. I recalled that I had put on my seatbelt because I was reminded that God loved me. At that same moment, a thought dropped in my mind, the thought was, I have a plan for your life. I think the thought came from God.

    My family had an unexpected stay in Dawson Creek, Canada. But eventually we got our car fixed, and we continued our trip. You could probably guess how an accident like this affected us. We decided that life wasn’t just about getting from point A to B. We would still have to travel, but this was a huge reminder that there was more to life than just passing through. We decided we wanted to enjoy the journey.

    Life is too short and relationships are too precious just to get from here to there. For the purpose of full disclosure, my dad still found a way to average just short of 700 miles a day, but we learned to enjoy the journey. We played games in the car. We prayed. We sang. We read stories. We had fun being together. We listened to ball games and books on tape. I know I’m dating myself but you get the point. We changed our focus, and we’ve never been sorry. It seemed like the time went faster. And guess what? We still made it on time!

    What about you? Are you racing through life? You may not be physically racing through your life, but how many times do you approach life as if the clock is ticking to accumulate as many possessions and experiences as possible?

    If you had to pick between the two ways to travel which would you say best describes the way you presently take family vacations or business trips? Are you a straight line to point B from point A person? Or have you learned the embrace the journey?

  • Roger and Donna Swanwick

    One of my best friends in the early days of Indian Creek was a guy named Roger Swanwick. He would tell you he gave the self directed life a go. He fought in Vietnam and lived to tell about it. He got out, grew his hair long, turned to drugs, dope and sex. He lived with his girl friend in the back of his van and he thought life was good. Until he ran out of money! His his so called friends started stealing from him. He woke up in places and didn’t know how he got there. Eventually even his girl friend was ready to leave him. The self directed life always has a way of unraveling.

    I met him shortly after this and got to watch an amazing transformation. Roger and his wife Donna (yes he married his girl friend) found their way back to God and then discovered the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17.

    2 Corinthians 5:17 says: This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. 

    Roger and Donna discovered that what they couldn’t do on their own--the presence of Christ could do to change them from the inside out. They not only chose to be faithful in attending church. They loved it. They wanted to grow and couldn’t get enough. They found something that satisfied their souls. They started serving with me in the youth group I was leading. Before long Roger was appointed as the manager of a finance company and still later he became president of a bank. They were devoted to becoming disciples. Now their lives had purpose and meaning. They went from living for Self to living the life that we are calling SENT.

    You can discover more about living SENT in the book backwards: Created to Live SENT

  • GA Writing Retreat

    It is a privilege to spend the next four days writing at a lake house in GA courtesy of our friends, Rick and Lynn Mercer. We met Rick and Lynn in the year two of the Indian Creek church plant. They were an important part for nearly five years before moving to Georgia.  We've missed them but stayed connected. God's blessed them and they've been a blessing to others through their generosity. They've often invited us to come and retreat, come and play, come and write. We had a great time with them over the weekend and now we are dedicating the next four days to writing. 

    I'm going to rewrite the six messages that go with the Created to Live Sent series. The messages I've been sending to the churches that did the series were the ones we used at the Creek. They were written specifically for that day, time and place. I'm writing messages that will be more universally use-able. I'm sure pastors will do their own thing anyway but this gives them a better run at the hill. There are five churches now using Created to Live SENT in some form or another. I pray it will be a helpful concept for many.

    I appreciate your prayers as I write and we retreat. Belinda is revising and improving The Path to Power. Jim Davey and I wrote it together 24 years ago. Sam Stephens told us that it is still his go to plan for discipleship with his new believers in the 70,000+ churches he's planted. It is translated into 5 dialects. He's been using it for 22 years. That is just way cool. I thank God for that. It reminds me to give what you have to God. He can use it an multiply it. We told him he could have all the rights to it if he used it in India. We don't need anything but the satisfaction that something created from our hearts in the U.S. would help fulfill the Great Commission half a world away.

  • Loving God by loving people

    Jesus said, A second [commandment] is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. Matthew 22:39-40 NLT

    Jesus makes it plain that it is not enough just to love God. We must love others.

    If anyone boasts, I love God, and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. 1 John 4:20 MSG

    It can be easy for us to love inanimate objects. We love our houses. We love our cars. We love food. It can be easy for us to direct our love toward a God who loves us and never fails us, but what about His children? Can we love them as we love God?

    I’m learning more about this now that I’m a grandmother. My children, and especially my grandchildren, don’t have to do anything to deserve or win my love. I love them because they are my children. I believe that God desires us to have the same love for one another as He has for us, simply because we are His. This might, and usually does, require some sacrifice on our part.

    Our youngest son, Luke, loves the city! I don’t mean a small town like Kansas City—I mean the CITY like Chicago! He lives there with his wife Rachel and they are a part of the Leadership Team with We are Mission Church.

    Luke asked me one day, “Mom, why is it that I love the cities?” To me the answer was obvious, “Luke, it’s where the people are.” They are dedicating their lives to reaching the city and their new communities with the love of Christ. This was no small choice for them; it required much prayer and sacrifice on their part. They’ve left everything comfortable and familiar to them to follow a prompting they believe is from God. Because they’ve chosen to love God by loving people.

    In the months to come, they will talk with many people who are far from God, and they will have an opportunity to love God by loving people. They will truly be able to love their neighbors as themselves. What about you?

    Think and Act
    Can you commit to reaching those around you—your neighbors, coworkers, family, friends—with the same love that you have for God?

    Belinda Kendall


  • Day 30 Wrong Song

    Wrong Song

    Day 30

    My Temple will be called ‘a house of prayer for all nations, Mark 11:17 NLT

    If you learned a Christian song in the early years of your life, there is a good chance you learned Jesus Loves Me. If you need a refresher on the lyrics, it goes like this. Sing aloud if you’d like.

    Jesus loves me this I know
    for the Bible tells me so

    Little ones to Him belong
    They are weak but He is strong

    Chorus: Yes, Jesus loves me
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    The Bible tells me so

    How can you help but smile when you sing that song? There is a good reason we love that song, and it goes beyond the fact that it is true. We love it because it is about us. Jesus loves ME! I am the object of his love.

    To capture the full spirit of the song, we might as well wrap our arms around ourselves when we sing it. Jesus loves me. What a comfort that is! Try it. It makes you feel good. Please don’t burn me for heresy. I like the song. I really do, but it can be a problem too. If I’m honest, I want everything to be about me. Me, me, me is the song we like to sing.

    The whole idea of this book, backwards, is that to make everything about me feels so appropriate. Here is the problem, we naturally make ourselves the center of the story. Our first filter in life is the one that judges something good or bad, right or wrong, by how it affects me. We all do it. And it is backwards to the way that God designed life.

    This truth, that Jesus loves me, is a basic building block for life. And remember, with God it IS all about you—that is why He sent Jesus die on the cross—to pay for your sin. But once you followHim—it is no longer about you, it is about OTHERS. Jesus wants everyone to know Him. Once you join the family of God, it is the pre-occupation of this family to live your life on mission, on purpose, all the time for others to know Jesus. It’s not about you. That is the plan, and it is a good thing.

    Trust Jesus to meet your needs as you serve. Trust his love as you go through your life. It will always be there for you. When you live the life that is SENT there is a divine return cycle that is better than any you could create on your own. You become your brother’s keeper. And God becomes your keeper. To the extent that we live with this perspective life makes sense.

    A better theme song for living SENT would be a different children’s song:
    Jesus loves the little children
    All the children of the world
    Red and yellow, black and white
    They are precious in his sight
    Jesus loves the little children of the world

    It’s fine to sing both if you want to live SENT just don’t sing the first song, Jesus Loves Me without also singing the second, Jesus Loves the Little Children.

    What is God asking you to trust Him to do? To whom is He asking you to serve? Will you live ‘backwards’ for His glory?

    Gary Kendall

    Devo 30, Week 6, SENT, Day 5