A Christian’s Mission
About the Guest
Video that sparked Barbara and Dennis to be thinking of our homes as an embassy in a foreign land.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Barbara Rainey reflects on what it means to live as an ambassador of Christ in a world where many don’t even believe that heaven exists.
A Christian’s Mission
Bob: As a follower of Jesus, you have been commissioned / you’ve been given an assignment. You’ve been called to be an ambassador, and you’ve been sent by God. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: It’s not a mistake that God has put all of us where He’s put us—the neighborhood we live in / the schools we go to—all of those things—God has sovereign purposes for us. When we remember that we are ambassadors, and that we’re here on mission, and that we’re here for the purposes of God, then it helps us to see meaning in all of the circumstances around us and in the places where God has called us to live and relate to people.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. So, how would you say things are going at your embassy? Are you living as an ambassador for Christ? We’re going to explore that subject today with Barbara Rainey. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: Looks like Snickers® is doing well. [Laughter]
Bob: Well! You know, that’s interesting—
Dennis: That’s not a dog by the way. That’s not a dog’s name—it’s a candy bar.
Bob: If you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, because this kind of came off the cuff with Dennis this week—[Laughter]
Dennis: It was not off the cuff. We were talking about how Barbara kept herself from near starvation in Russia because she had the Lion bar.
Bob: Okay; so, here’s my question: “How long did you think about putting a straw poll on our website before you actually spoke that on the air?”
Dennis: Days, Bob—days. [Laughter]
Bob: Seconds!—off-the-cuff Dennis came up with the idea of putting a straw poll on. And here’s what is interesting—the other category, where people can write in their own candy bars—that’s what’s winning.
Dennis: It’s a long list.
Bob: There are people who—they’re—
Barbara: There are a lot more choices today than there used to be; right?
Dennis: You gave a local—
Bob: I did.
Dennis: —intravenous chocolate—
Bob: It’s awesome.
Dennis: —that’s 70 percent—
Bob: —72 / 72 percent—
Dennis: —to be exact.
Bob: —bean to bar. I’ll just put in a plug for Izard Chocolate, one more time, while we’re—
Dennis: Oh, wow!—shamelessly.
Bob: It is awesome stuff.
Barbara: Oh good!
Dennis: But he does go to Bob’s church. So, you know—Bob’s asking him to tithe off of that.
Barbara: Oh. I love local. So, we’ll go local. [Laughter]
Bob: But our focus this week is not on candy as much as it is on recognizing that where you are and where you’re from may be two entirely different questions. Barbara, this has kind of been the meditation of your soul for a season now.
Barbara: And it was all sparked by a video—and I don’t even remember, now, who showed me this video or sent me the link to this video—but it’s a YouTube video about this person who lives in a former Communist country in Eastern Europe.
This person has on the outside of his home—we’ve been calling him, “him” because we’re not allowed to say the gender of this person because of security reasons—but this person has on the outside of his home a brass plaque that says, “Embassy of the King of Heaven.” He goes on to tell the story of how his home is an embassy for the King, and it looks like the home of the King—he thinks of it that way. He invites people in, and serves them, and listens to them because he is a representative of the King of heaven.
When I heard that, I thought: “Oh, that’s who I am. That’s who we are. That’s who all of us are, who belong to Christ.” But how often do I think of my home as an embassy? Well, until I saw that video, I really didn’t think about that too much.
Bob: And when you saw that plaque, you thought, “I want to make one—
Barbara: “I want one.”
Bob: —“of those plaques.”
Barbara: “I want one of those. How do I get one of those?” [Laughter]
Bob: And since you couldn’t find one online at Amazon—
Dennis: She created one.
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —you decided to make your own. In fact, you—
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —you’ve made a stainless steel one that can be screwed into the concrete, you’ve made a banner, you’ve got a framed plaque—
—all available at FamilyLifeToday.com. And if folks want to see the video you’re talking about, that’s available. We’ve got a link for that on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com as well.
Dennis: And of course, this comes from 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5, where Paul said, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” All the people listening to this broadcast, who are followers of Christ, listen up! This is our assignment / this is our mission—we are ambassadors in a land that is not our home. We’ve been given an assignment as ambassadors.
And these are days when there is a lot of fear taking place in our country. These days present a great opportunity for us to present the claims of Christ to offer forgiveness to any person who will cry out to Christ.
And I’ll tell you, Bob—I think there is a lot of fear today, but I think there is even more guilt. I think there is a lot of guilt in our nation for people who have disobeyed God—they know they have / they know they have offended Almighty God—and they need forgiveness. That’s what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.
Bob: And you’re saying, in this case—when it comes to being an ambassador for the kingdom, the borders are open / there’s no wall.
Dennis: We live in a country where it’s still okay to proclaim the truth about Jesus Christ. My point is: “Seize the day! Let’s go for it! And you know what? Train your kids to do it.”
There are two ways to send your kids into the world. First of all, you can let them go and be naïve and, probably, become a casualty of the culture and of the world; or you can give them an assignment / the biblical assignment we’ve all been given and send them. They’re compared in Psalm 127:4—“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior so are the children of one’s youth.”
There’s a reason why, I think, a child was compared to an arrow. He was designed for battle / he was designed to pierce the darkness—to go out there and proclaim Christ.
These are days when kids are questioning their own identity / who they are, and they don’t know—the whole gender identity issue. This is a great opportunity to help people, first and foremost, find their spiritual identity. Then, we’ll help them figure out their sexual identity, if they are still confused about that.
Bob: Barbara, you were having a conversation about the idea of home being an embassy with a mutual friend of ours—somebody who used to work, here at FamilyLife—
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: She and her husband are now living in Uganda. She shared a story with you.
Barbara: She did. Janel sent me—actually, she wrote it up as a blog post for the Ever Thine Home® blog. The story is of a friend of hers, who is also a missionary in the country of Uganda.
They were talking one day; and this friend said to my friend, Janel—she said: “Well, I need to tell you what happened to us a couple of weeks ago. We were driving—my teenage son and I—were driving through this city / the capital city.” She said, “One of the things that happens sometimes in the city traffic is—an official motorcade will come through. And because there aren’t the same kinds of traffic laws that we’re used to in the United States, they’ll just show up out of nowhere. Because of the noise, you might not hear them until they’re literally on your bumper. And if you don’t get out of the way in time of this official convoy, then, you can be in big trouble.”
Well, that happened—her teenage son hadn’t been driving that long / this official convoy came up, and he didn’t move over quickly enough. The police pulled him over to the side of the road, jerked him out of the car, and arrested him. He didn’t know why he was being arrested, but they hauled him off to the local police station. They made him take off all of his clothes except his jeans.
They accused him of being an international spy, and they put him in jail.
Now, here they are—here’s this family—this American family, who is living in the country of Uganda. They are there, as missionaries, to serve the people / to love the people; and their teenage son has just been thrown in jail. The parents are there, and they are trying to make sense of all of this. They are trying to listen through the interpreter: “What’s going on? Why are you accusing our son? He didn’t know he was breaking the law.” All of this conversation is going on, and they weren’t making any headway.
All of a sudden, the dad remembered that he had just entered into his phone a very important phone number. The phone number was the phone number for the embassy—the United States Embassy in Kampala, Uganda. He pulled out his cell phone, and he dialed that number. He got on the phone with the major who—not the official head ambassador—
—but the major who is in charge of the forces that protect the embassy in that country. The major got on the phone, and they began to talk. All of a sudden, things began to change because this family was American. Now, he was talking to the representative of our government to his home country, which is the United States. And the major was able to tell him what to say / how to answer the questions. Within an hour, their son was out of prison and they were headed home. It was all resolved.
But it was because he went to the person who could solve the problem. He went to the ambassador of the United States because he is a citizen of the United States, even though he is living in a foreign country. It’s a perfect illustration for us, as believers—that we are living in a foreign country. When we have things happen, who do we go to? We go to our Father. Where does our Father live? He lives in heaven. What kind of authority does He have? He has all authority. What kind of power does He have?
He has all power.
So, the analogy is very similar that we, as Christ’s ambassadors, belong to Him. And when we have trouble in the world, when we run into obstacles, when we run into difficulties, we go to our King—the King of our country—and that’s who intercedes for us as we’re His ambassadors in this land.
Dennis: Well, while you were talking, Barbara, I was thinking of—among the last words that Jesus said to His disciples before He was carried away to heaven—He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples…” There is our mission, and there is the King, who has, not partial authority, but all authority—to your point. Jesus Christ has all authority and He gave us the command to go. As ambassadors, we need to be on mission. If we know whose we are, and who we are, and what our assignment is—
—we need to be about proclaiming Christ to a needy nation.
Barbara: And don’t forget the last part of that verse because it says, “And I will be with you wherever you go.”
Barbara: He doesn’t just call us to go and represent Him and tell us that He has all power and authority, but He promises us that He will go with us. And that’s the comfort and that’s the assurance—that, as we go out in His name, He goes with us.
Dennis: And in this political season in America, I think followers of Christ need to be reminded who is with them. Jesus said here—you already quoted it: “And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” He’s not going to abandon us as orphans. He is going to be with us, and He is going to prepare a place for us that He says, “Where I am, you may be also.”
So, this isn’t our home. Our home is with Him, where He is preparing a place for us. And by the way, it’s been said: “He’s been gone for over 2,000 years, and we saw what He created in six days.
“You’ve got to believe, ‘This is going to be a fine place He’s got—
Barbara: Very fine.
Dennis: —“’in building this home for over 2,000-plus years.’”
But we just need to take Him at His word and not be—I’m just thinking of a word we used to use as kids—scaredy cats. We shouldn’t be running around afraid of what’s taking place in our country right now. Jesus Christ has not been dethroned—God is still in charge.
Now, why is all of this happening? Why is everything taking place in our country? Why is there so much unrest? It may be a lack of civil conversation, and discourse, and debate—I don’t know—but I think there are lessons to be learned. There is an assignment for every follower of Christ listening to this broadcast.
Bob: One of the things that makes living, as ambassadors, a challenge is that our kingdom is an unseen kingdom. Not everybody even believes there is a kingdom or a King. I mean, it’s one thing if you had said, “I’m from England, and I serve the Queen”; but when you say:
“I’m from heaven. I serve the King,” people are going to look at you like—
Barbara: —I’m crazy.
Bob: —“Are you a little crazy?” So, how do we deal with that?
Barbara: Well, I think we have to remember whom we belong to. I think, as Christians, we often do a lot of self-talk and a lot of reminding ourselves—of whose we are / who we belong to—but I also think it helps to remember what we’ve been called to do.
Tim Keller is a pastor that Dennis and I often listen to on podcasts. He says there are three ways you can visit a country. You can go as a tourist. You can go as an immigrant, hoping to assimilate into the culture and make that your home; or you can be an ambassador. God has called us to be an ambassador to represent Him. He doesn’t want us to assimilate into this culture / He doesn’t want us to just use it—He wants us to reach it. There is a big difference in going to reach the country, the place, the community, the neighborhood where He has called you to live.
I think, sometimes, we talk about God’s sovereignty.
We think of it so casually, but it’s not a mistake that God has put all of us where He’s put us—the neighborhood we live in / the schools we go to—all of those things—God has sovereign purposes for us. When we remember that we are ambassadors, and that we are here on mission, and that we’re here for the purposes of God, then, it helps us to see meaning in all of the circumstances around us and in the places where God has called us to live and relate to people.
When we were college students, Bill Bright—who was the leader of Campus Crusade®, as it was called then / the organization that we were involved in for Bible study and for getting to know other believers—he coined this phrase, “Come help change the world.” And we heard it several times. The more we heard it, the more we began to believe that we could actually be a part of changing the world.
Well, that’s such an overwhelming dream and idea—that any one person couldn’t imagine changing the world—
—but together, then, it made a big difference. We began to think, as a group of college students, about the idea of changing the world. It began to soak into the fiber of who we were. We began to believe that: “Yes; we could change the world if we walked with Christ, if we believed Him, if we followed Him for all of our days—then, maybe, together we really could change the world.” Again, that is what God has left us here to do—is to impact other people and to bring many with us into the kingdom when we go.
Dennis: And so, what happened was—a couple of college kids believed that statement. We stormed the campus, making Jesus Christ the issue at the University of Arkansas. Then, we graduated and continued on mission. Barbara went to the University of South Carolina in Columbia; and I went on to work with high school students in Dallas, Texas. Some months later, started dating; and then, got married / tied the knot.
Bob: Weeks later—got married.
Dennis: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: Months later—started dating / weeks later—got married. [Laughter]
Dennis: It was pretty quick, but we were on mission. We were on mission together, and God can use you as a human being.
Bob: A lot of people will hear your story and think: “Being an ambassador is one of those things that is set aside for people who do what you did. You know—you guys—all in—made this your life’s work. You didn’t work a job other than working at FamilyLife. You raised the kids and were a part of what was going on here.”
And they would think: “I’m not really an ambassador because I work at the factory,” or “I work at the office,” or “I work at the school,” or wherever. They see life kind of segregated, but that’s not how God sees it; is it?
Barbara: It, absolutely, is not how God sees it. And I think that by looking at someone else and saying, “Oh, you have to do that to be an ambassador,” is to miss the idea all together because God calls each of us to be His representative.
It means to stand for Him / it means to speak for Him. It means to show what He is like, where you live and with the people that He’s given you to relate to.
It isn’t so much about doing things or accomplishing great feats, but it’s representing Christ because we are the temple / we are the temple of Christ. When we walk around, no matter where we go—the grocery store, the school, whatever it is—it’s the living, breathing temple of God, walking around in the culture in which God has placed you to live.
Bob: In the office / at the factory—
Bob: —wherever God has you—
Barbara: Grocery store, Wal-Mart®—
Bob: —you’re an ambassador—
Bob: —in that environment. In fact, at some level, the people who are out at the factory and in the office are, maybe, more in touch with what’s going on in the world than folks, like us, who work here at headquarters; right?
Barbara: I agree; I agree.
Dennis: We’re kind of at the Pentagon. Others are out on the frontlines, having an impact. You know, I’m glad you asked the question, Bob, because—and this is going to sound pretty strong—but that kind of thinking—that the ministry and the work of being an ambassador and making your home an embassy of the King is only for fulltime Christian workers—pastors, people who are, as you said, all in—well, we all should be all in.
We may have different assignments in terms of being a doctor, in terms of being a teacher, at the factory, working behind the scenes in some institution; but we’re all called to be ambassadors. And that’s what Paul said. I’m going to read it again—I read it earlier. Just a couple of passages in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5, verse 17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
And it goes on in verse 20—a couple of verses later—it says: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
And there—you really see the essence of an ambassador—he has been appointed by the King. That means you’ve got to surrender to the appointment / you’ve got to surrender to the King and say, “I receive the appointment.” And to get the appointment of being an ambassador, you have to receive the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. You have to place your faith in Him and be born again.
But a second thing is—after you receive the appointment, you have to start acting like an ambassador. Then, third, you need to make your home a Christian embassy. And fourth, you need to give your children the right credentials to be able to operate in the world, and you need to give them the right identity so that they know who they are too.
I’m telling you—these are exciting days to be alive. I think the darker it gets in the culture, the brighter the light of Christ is going to shine in our nation. I look at these days—I’ve got to tell you—a marriage and family ministry is where it’s happening. It is under attack as never before. The very foundations of “What is a marriage?” have been assaulted. It’s clear in the Bible—God is the Creator / the originator. He is the One who thought marriage up in the first place, and He is the One who knows how to make it work.
And it’s a great opportunity, by the way, to be an ambassador for Christ that talks to people about: “How are you doing in your marriage? How are you doing in your family? If you need help, I know where you can go to get help.” You can point them to the Bible; you can point them to the FamilyLife app, where they can get some more broadcasts and resources for their marriage and family.
We’re here to serve people where they live, and to help them be effective ambassadors, and to help them turn their homes into embassies of the King.
Bob: The app that you mentioned is available for download from the app store for either Apple or for Android phones.
And the reminder that you’ve created, Barbara—that we live in an embassy / the wall hangings, the plaques, the booklet that you’ve created for families to use as a devotional—you can get information about all of these resources when you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. In fact, the booklet is available as a free download as an e-book. You can go to the website and download the questions for free; or if you’d prefer the printed devotional book, that’s available for order, along with the plaque, and the banner, and the canvas—whatever you’d like from the collection that Barbara has created. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also order by phone at 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, it was back in 1990—26 years ago today—that Earl and Anita Downing from Kansas City, Missouri, became husband and wife. Today is the Downing’s anniversary—“Happy anniversary!” to Earl and Anita. Thanks for listening to FamilyLife Today. Hope your day is a great day; and “Congratulations!” on more than a quarter century of marriage together. That’s a big deal!
Anniversaries are a big deal and ought to be celebrated as such. Increasingly, in this culture, marriage is being devalued. Couples, who are going the distance—well, we’re here to cheer you on. In fact, we’re here to provide the kind of practical biblical help and hope that all of us need in order for our marriages to go the distance. That’s our goal—we want to see every home become a godly home.
And we appreciate those of you who support us in this effort.
During the month of August, we’re asking those of you, who have not made a donation to FamilyLife this year, “Would you consider making a donation?” We’re a little behind this year from where we were last year in terms of the number of people who have made donations. So, we’re asking our regular listeners, “If you’ve not donated this year, would you consider, right now, going to FamilyLifeToday.com and making an online donation?”
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If you can help with a donation of $100 or more, we’d like to express our gratitude by sending you a series of three Bible studies from our Art of Marriage® Connect collection.
These Bible studies are designed for small group use or a husband and wife can go through the material together and have some great conversations about strengthening your marriage. Again, we’ll send those out to you as a thank-you gift for your generous support of this ministry.
And we hope you can join us again tomorrow. We’re going to talk about how we, as parents, can help our children catch a vision for living life as ambassadors and seeing their home as an embassy. Hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today—his name is Keith Lynch. I also want to thank our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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