In the book of Acts, Stephen, a man appointed by the Apostles to represent Christ to the Hellenistic Jews (in particular, their widows), found himself in a dilemma. He would either give in to the demands of the culture of his day or he would stand firm and declare the goodness of his God. Stephen had long before decided that he would live sent, regardless of the outcome.
In Acts 6, we read, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke.” When they could not resist Stephen on the issues, they began to slander his name. The Bible says, “Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’” The truth is, no matter how factual or gentle Stephen presented truth to them, they were going to twist his words to evoke an outrage among the people in efforts to stop his message. The Bible says “And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses.” The truth became a lie, and the lie was now considered “truth”.
The fact is, Stephen was not looking for a fight. As a matter of fact, his main role in assisting in the ministry to the Hellenistic widows in the early church was that of waiting on tables. Yet, he found himself in a predicament that he did not ask for. I believe that Stephen did everything right in his discussion with the religious leaders of his day. His facts were correct, his tone was just right, and his countenance was that of “the face of an angel.” Yet, Stephen became the first Christian martyr.
In my mind, the story of Stephen’s stand shows us four reasons “Living Sent Ministries” matters.
Stephen shows us that we are to be the light of His glory on the earth while living in the face of evil times.
Once again, Stephen’s face was seen “as the face of an angel“ by his detractors. Likewise, in an effort to be the light in the darkness, knowing full well that the culture is quickly moving against the Christian message, we must, all the more, take a stand and live sent in our businesses, in our churches, in our spheres of influence, and even in our personal lives. We must take a page from Stephen and endeavor to do just that while maintaining a countenance of that of “the face of an angel”. Jesus called it something like being “harmless doves” and being “wise serpents” in tandem!
I believe Living Sent Ministries gives us the best platform in our day to help us meet the present day challenge of a hostile culture with the power of the gospel! Living Sent is a great platform to help shine the light of the gospel in our workplaces and impact society for the good.
Like Stephen, we have to be knowledgeable of our distinct Judeo Christian history and reclaim our godly heritage, not allowing the “cancel culture” to remove “the ancient landmarks”.
The Bible warns us not to remove the “ancient landmarks” of our fathers. Stephen gave the entire history of Israel up to his day and it’s importance to his day when he was pressed on why he followed Jesus. I do believe that we too, should know our history — Church history, American history, and even our own personal family histories. Once again, Living Sent Ministries is a great resource, full of great men and women who are in fact a treasure trove of information concerning our histories, in at least two of the three areas I mention here. Jerry Moll, can help you understand the impact that each of you have on a city, thanks in large part to his ongoing studies of marketplace ministries and their transformative impact upon a city and a region. Dr. David Black is a treasure trove of information when it comes to our American history and it’s impact on spreading the gospel around the world. Dr. Ming Wang can give you great resources and information upon both scientific and world history events, from his unique perspective, having escaped Communist China. Dr. Carol Swain has incredible insight from her unique perspective as a single African-American mother who would rise to the top of her profession and in many ways become a prophetic voice to our nation. Peter Demos demonstrates to us the power of raising up a chaplain to minister to the needs of his employees and, at the same time, speaks publicly on issues he believes matter to God. Bill Lee leads the state of Tennessee, endeavoring to be a light in the darkness as he seeks to lead all Tennesseans well from the Governor’s seat, while calling on the State to pray to God for wisdom. I could go on and on of the seemingly unlimited resources each of you represent. By the way, these folks I mention here, don’t all agree on every issue at hand, but the one thing they do all agree on, is that Jesus is King!
Like Stephen, we are being called upon to stand up, to speak up, and stand out in a culture that is the antithesis to all things God.
Stephen stood on behalf of his King (Jesus), and the Bible tells us, that same King (Jesus) stood on behalf of Stephen. There are only two places in the scripture that I’m aware of where Jesus is seen standing at the throne of God. One is in Revelation 5 when the Lamb of God stands for all of redeemed humanity. The second, is when Stephen peers into the heavenlies and sees Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father, on his behalf. Everywhere else I read in the scripture; Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father. I mentioned this because, I believe we honor Him when we speak up on His behalf. I also believe that He honors us with his very real manifest presence when we stand up for His righteousness in our land.
Another great thing about Living Sent Ministries, is that, we have formed a union of Christian brothers and sisters who are influencers and high impact leaders in our world, which carries with it a great strength for change in our country. I believe within the context of Living Sent Ministries, we not only have a unity of believers, but we also have a mutual backing of faith — a people to stand with you, even in the difficult day!
Like Stephen, who was a catalyst for revival in the book of Acts; we may very well be the catalyst to bring about a Third Great Awakening in our day before the promised return of Christ.
Stephen’s death accomplished two important things in the early church. First, the church was scattered by God’s design; thus, the gospel was preached everywhere the saints went! Second, Paul witnessed Stephen’s martyrdom and was later saved. Perhaps it was due, in large part, to Stephen’s strong witness even down to his last breath, that Paul would be compelled to preach the gospel to the then known world!
Finally, I believe Living Sent Ministries was raised up “for such a time as this”. Jerry Moll was stirred by God more than a decade ago (15 years ago) for this very day! I believe the Holy Spirit IS concerned with the activities and the impact of Living Sent Ministries in our world today. This great ministry offers strategy tools and Christian think-tanks (some organized and some organic in nature) that help to propel the gospel in an unusual and strong way to our nation and abroad. I will go as far as to say, that Living Sent Ministries is a “change-agent” in our fallen world. If you are a part of this ministry, I believe it is equally true that just as God raised Jerry up to awaken us to the possibilities of a people united for the cause of Christ, utilizing our influence in advancing His kingdom; He is raising YOU up for this exact time, as well. That said, I do not believe that I could possibly overstate the importance and the prophetic timeliness of Living Sent Ministries to the Kingdom work of our day!
Pastor Shane Ogle
Great Lakes Church