Mark crosses the finish line of the 2012 Mississauga Marathon.

In May 2012 I ran my first marathon, a whopping 42.2 km run through the streets and along the Lake Ontario shore in Mississauga. I learned a lot about myself in those 4.5 hours. I learned that in order to finish a marathon in a good time it takes laser-like focus.

During my marathon my mind wandered…a lot. So many things run through your mind,

There is no way you are going to finish this.
You’re going to die.
Just quit and give up.

While these things and much more ran through my brain I counted down the kilometer signs (which by the way is a bad idea). Then, after I finished the race to the cheers of my wife Jessica, I began asking myself,

“Where did I go wrong in not meeting my desired time?”
“What could I have done to be better prepared mentally?”
“What can I do next time to ensure I have laser-like focus?”

Now as I train for my next marathon in October I see the similarities between running and ministry. Without laser-like focus we can falter in the middle of what God has called us to do. Nehemiah is a perfect example of someone who did not get sidetracked.

Nehemiah is brought word that his hometown, Jerusalem, lays in a state of reproach, the temple is rebuilt but no fortified walls surround it and the city is open to enemy attack. (Nehemiah 1:1-4) He begins to develop a plan to go to the city and rebuild the walls at any cost.

A character study on Nehemiah brings to light many leadership characteristics we need to apply as we serve in Canada. If you have not studied Nehemiah please grab your Bible and do an inductive overview of the first few chapters. I want to tell you all about this wonderful man but I do not want to rob you the joy of discovering these truths for yourself.

Over the past six months we have returned to the Precept Ministries International Mission and Vision with laser-like focus. As we prepare for the launch of the Precept Network in Canada is it vital for us to stay on task, recognizing the true reason why this ministry exists. We want to ensure that all of our Inductive Bible Study leaders and students across Canada refocus as well. Where would Nehemiah have been if the people had not caught his vision and joined him in the work to see the vision become a reality?

To this end, in July we had our first of a series of Mission and Vision meetings at the national training centre in Brantford. In these meetings I shared the Precept Mission and Vision with Inductive Bible Study leaders. I spoke about the importance for people, whose lives have been changed through studying God’s Word using Precept’s Inductive Bible Study method, to see how they can actively participate in bringing the Precept Vision to pass. I shared how different our world will be when Precept meets the goal of establishing 10 million new people worldwide in God’s Word by 2015. How different would your community be if your neighbors knew they could pick up God’s Word and study it for themselves? Can you see it?

One of the misconceptions we dealt with was in regard to the expectations upon the team of seven who work in the office in Brantford. Is it really these seven people who are responsible for the entire ministry across Canada? Not at all! Each Inductive Bible Study leader and student is an equal partner in the mission of establishing Canadians in God’s Word.

One of the major changes we have made is to filter everything through our mission statement. For too long we have spent a lot of time telling people how wonderful the ministry is, or how good the Bible Studies are, or how great a teacher Kay is but all of these things only ‘expose’ new people to the ministry. Our mission, if you choose to accept it, is to “establish.”

Practically speaking, instead of telling a person about the ministry, we sit down with that person and walk them through a short Inductive Bible Study. (The one or two page Precept Lightning Studies are perfect for this.) We want to hold true to the mission in all that we do.

Much like during my marathon there can be distractions in ministry that would knock us off course, slow us down or take us right out of the race if we focused on them. So now, when we are presented with opportunities, we evaluate each one to determine if it has the potential to establish people in God’s Word. If it doesn’t we turn it down.

October 26th and 27th we will hold the second in our series of these Mission and Vision meetings. If your greatest desire and burden is like ours, to see people established in God’s Word, living as exemplary followers of Jesus Christ studying the Bible inductively, making disciples intentionally, serving the church faithfully in the power of the Holy Spirit then you need to join us to see how you can partner with us to a greater degree.

In my few short years with the ministry I can honestly say this is the most mission driven we have ever been. Our greatest burden is much like Nehemiah’s, our country is in reproach (shame), the needs are many, the sin is great, the walls are broken and the only answer is God’s Word and we believe that God is raising up this ministry to do something huge in this country.

We have to stay focused, we have to stay on mission and we need you to do the same. Will you accept the mission of Establishing People in God’s Word?

Download the September 2012 Plumbline

Download the September 2012 Prayer Requests

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