Macedonia – Where it all started

“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” ~ Acts 16:9-10

Almost 30 years ago, after committing my life to Christ, I was compelled of the Holy Spirit into ministry, missions specifically. However, it wasn’t until 2003 when I would take my first missions trip. Having been the son of an Army soldier, and serving in the Air Force myself, I wasn’t a stranger to foreign travel; however, this would be the first time out of the country specifically for Kingdom purpose.

Like Paul, I heard the Macedonian call and I went. The country was still very young in its independence from Yugoslavia, and encountered many issues with its neighbors, not to mention internal cultural, ethnic and religious tension. None of this seemed to sway the people. In 2003, the bulk of the population was young with the median age between 18-25. It was an amazing journey, besides the near death experience with e coli. The people were responsive to the gospel, hungry for a touch from God and would stand in line for hours for prayer.

Fast forward 12 years…I have heard the Macedonian call once again and next week, on May 13th, I will respond for a 2 week mission to this historical, maturing and amazing country. I will be traveling with the resident missionary, Ed Bolay, from our fellowship. Our mission is to reconnect with many of the people from my first trip, minister around the country in the fellowshipping churches and be available to respond as the Holy Spirit leads in the communities to advance the Kingdom of Christ.

The first thing every missionary ask for and needs, is prayer. Without faithful prayer warriors covering us, the journey is doomed to fail, or at least be more challenging than necessary. It’s impossible to go on mission without the Holy Spirit and the intercession of God’s people.

In addition to prayer, I need faithful financial support. Since this a short notice mission, I need to raise my $2000 budget immediately; airfare from Houston, TX to Skopje, Macedonia is $1154, and $70-75 per diem for 13 days. You can donate specifically towards my airfare and/or make a general donation to Macedonia Mission 2015 to cover my in country expenses (see screen shot below).

All donations are processed via Breathe International, (click here -> http://breatheinternational.com/donate/).

Humble regards,

James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”

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Out With The Old…

He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” ~ Luke 5:36-39

Jesus was very specific and intentional in His reference to the old vs. the new.  As this passage has been on my heart and in my spirit the last few weeks, I am seeing it from several different facets. The last verse, especially, has arrested me.

“And no one after drinking the old wine desires new, for he says, ’The old is good.’” ~ v. 39

Let’s start with the common denominator, wine. Wine in the scriptures refers to God’s presence, His Spirit. From the beginning God’s desire was to dwell with man; have intimate fellowship and relationship. God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. We are created for this very purpose…to be in God’s presence eternally.

Even after the fall and separation of man, God continued to make His presence known and dwell with man. We see this in Cain and Abel’s sacrifice, Noah’s ark, Abraham’s covenant, Moses and the burning bush, the pillars of fire and the cloud, the tent of meeting, the Law, the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple, and all the way to the incarnation of Christ.

Even Christ spoke more on the Spirit than He did about salvation. There’s a reason he only spent 33 years on earth and only 3 1/2 on mission. He fulfilled in 3+ years what the law failed to do in 1000’s of years.

In John 14, Jesus declares we have seen the Father face to face, in Him, in Christ. The Father’s presence dwelled in the person Jesus. However, that was only temporary because the real reason Christ came was to send the Holy Spirit, the presence of the Father, to indwell and infill us, but that could not happen as long as Jesus was on the earth. Also, it would not happen as long as we continue to hold on to the old ways, traditions and laws.

The OLD Wine refers to the law, traditions of men, and separation of man from God, lack of satisfying and death. Even Isaiah, who was the OT herald of Christ imminent incarnation, declared something new was coming in Isaiah 42:9 and 43:18-19:

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

The WINESKIN is our flesh, physical nature, our emotions, intellect, and heart. Ezekiel 11:19-20 states, I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Our wineskin must be properly prepared to receive God’s presence, His new wine. It must be soft and pliable

According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Therefore, the NEW WINE accomplishes everything the old wine & wineskin could not. It restores relationship, fellowship and communion with Father God. It dwells in us, infilling and empowering us from on high. It’s eternal, always present and comforting. It stirs us to be bold witnesses of Christ in love, grace and mercy by faith. It is living and reveals the fullness of Christ, His authority and power. It is the evidentiary proof of Christ in us, our hope of glory, manifested and on display for the entire world to encounter.

We can’t move forward in anything new as long as we cling to the old. As when Christ came on the scene, the new was upon the people, but they had not properly prepared to receive Him. Don’t be the one in your church, business or relationship who clings to the old, rejects the new and refuses to grow. John Maxwell says, “change is inevitable, growth is optional.” So out with the old, embrace the new and watch what God will do to grow you to new levels in every area of your life.

James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”

Pros & Cons of Spiritual Free Agency

My mother loved her life, but it wasn’t without its regrets. I remember her telling me how she wished she finished her education and embarked on a path of fulfillment. To this day, I really don’t know what exactly my mother wanted to do with her life. She passed away at the young age of 52. However, I know without a doubt what she wanted for me. She would encourage me from an early age to be and do exactly what fulfilled me. Even if it were to be a ditch digger, she would say you make me proud and be the best ditch digger. Her heart’s desire was for me to always learn, formally and informally. She would push me to read, study and gain as much knowledge in what stirs my passion and live it out with every fiber of my being.

Well, I’ve done exactly that. I got an education in Computer Science & Information Systems Management; I’ve enjoyed the privilege of deploying my formal learning in the US Air Force, and great companies like Texas Instruments, Acer, Grande Communications, 2Wire and Pace. I climbed the ladder of success from apprentice tape monkey and first level call taker to Operations Manager overseeing cross department and multi-site computer and telecommunication functions. Along the way, I’ve even had the honor of coaching some amazing young men in football, basketball and track, as well as being a general manager of a movie theater.

In all my experience and leadership engagements, none have fulfilled me as much or transformed my life as being in full time ministry. During much of my employment tenures, I’ve always been connected to a local church serving from youth leader, associate pastor, regional youth director, pioneering a church plant to, most recently, pastoring a church. My wife and I love being on mission, serving local indigenous pastors, caring for widows and orphans, and overseeing churches in the bush of Kenya that we started a missions ministry, Breathe International, in 2010. We even partner with other ministries and non-profits by running 5K’s, 10K’s, half and full marathons that both directly or indirectly support and sponsor their missions.

So far it sounds like I’ve had a fulfilling life and career, but here’s the kick in the shorts. My formal education and experience, regardless of how much money I earn, has and will never compare to the overwhelming fulfillment of Christ grace transforming the lives of men, women and children around the world. So much passion for missions burns deep within my spirit that I just can’t bring myself to walk another day as an indentured servant to the “American Dream”. Don’t get me wrong the annual salaries; benefits and other compensations are very nice and hard to pass up. However, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25)

Free Agency

2015 is the 30th anniversary of my personal transformation and ministry in Christ. It marks a journey through the amazing experience love, grace and mercy to overcome overwhelming odds. In this milestone year, I’ve found myself as a “Free Agent” and frankly I’m terrified. God has not brought me so far to let me fall, but the natural circumstances ahead of me demand a supernatural intervention.

Unlike professional athletes who become “Free Agents”, there’s no agent working on my behalf to find me that next team who will pay millions for my perceived value and worth. There’s no business, church, ministry, etc. beating down my door, blowing up my phone or chasing after me to come work for them. Instead, it’s a journey of balancing how to provide for my family and relentlessly pursuing this mission with passion, intentionality and fulfillment.

As I’ve walked out the last couple weeks of free agency, I’ve encountered the following Pros & Cons that I would like to share:

PRO:

  • Not tied to a time clock, company or boss expectations
  • Full autonomy to set my own course and destination
  • Liberty to manage my own schedule and commitments
  • Availability to family, friends and mission
  • Uninterrupted time to dream and cast vision, study and equip, write and impart
  • Provide strategic Kingdom solutions instead of corporate bottom line fixes
  • Potential to earn as much as I am willing to invest

CON:

  • Combating emotional distractions of idleness, anxiety and fear
  • No steady stream of income and extended lean periods
  • Falling behind on bills or increasing debt to pay them
  • Diminishing professional value in the market place
  • Financial strain and tension on marriage and family
  • Being forgotten and discarded
  • Failure

For the record, I’m not just sitting around waiting for some big opportunity to fall in my lap. I’m intentionally and faithfully submitting my resume and applying for positions in my profession. It’s not what I want to do, but I know I must be vigilant in my pursuit to provide and meet my obligations; however, at the same time I am investing in the passion that drives me, what fulfills me and where my heart is most engaged: #mission – #community – #discipleship.

Continue to pray for me as I walk out this next chapter of my life and transition to where God is leading me. If there is anything I can do to partner with you to advance your mission, church or business, let’s get connected and turn this world upside down.

James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”