Monday, December 31, 2012

As the Journey Continues

Going to see The Hobbit recently reminded me of starting my own church planting journey in S. Asia one year ago. I can't help but recapture the conversation between Gandalf and the Hobbit as the Hobbit is contemplating the journey:

Gandalf: You'll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.
The Hobbit: Can you promise I will come back?
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same.

Embarking on my own journey one year ago was full of the unknown and in many ways uncertainty to what I/my family was about to experience. For those of you who have also served overseas you understand what I mean and for those of you who have not then you likely do not and cannot. One thing that I was told by my mentors was that they could not wait to see me again in the future because they knew that I was going to change so much and never be the same. But could they promise I would come back? No, but they knew if I did that I would never be the same.

I distinctly remember sitting around a fire pit outside of my parents house the night before I left feeling this uncertainty, much in the same way that the Hobbit did. But then I came back to God's promises over my life and recognized that at this moment in my life he was calling me to something greater in moving to S. Asia to see new churches planted where there are none. 

As I look back it has not been the easiest year of our lives in many ways, we have dealt with much sickness, broken bones, car wrecks, mold issues, and overall hardship, but as we finish 2012 and move into 2013 we are more excited than ever to see what God is going to do. Much like the Hobbit dealt with adversity and continued on his journey we too are marching on. And just as the Hobbit wanted to so badly return to the known and familiarity of his own home he did not yet because he believed in the mission that the group was on.

In this same way there have been times over this year that we or at least I was ready to throw in the towel and get on the next plane home. But I always came back to being here because of God's love for these people and so that they too would have a local church and an opportunity to hear the gospel and experience God's love in the same way that I did growing up.

So as the journey continues into 2013 there are still many unknowns but one thing is for certain, that God is at work in our lives and in the lives of the people in S. Asia. At this time he has us on his mission in this place because it is not yet time to return to the familiar.

Friday, December 28, 2012

12 Christian Books from 2012 Worth Your Time and Money

2012 has proven to be another year full of new book releases from Christian publishers. I always remember hearing in seminary that for every new book you read you should read three to four old books, primarily by dead guys, because many of them were saying these same things along time ago. Although I generally agree with that statement, it is also enjoyable to pick up a brand new book that may have a more modern and fresh perspective on the topic. In an age with so many new book releases to choose from it can be hard to know which ones are really worth the investment of money because even the average kindle book release is going to set you back $10. So here is my list of 12 Christian books that were released in 2012 that are worth your time and money.

1. Center-Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller (Zondervan 2012). In Center Church, Timothy Keller offers challenging insights and provocative questions based on over twenty years of ministry in New York City. This book outlines a theological vision for ministry - applying classic doctrines to our time and place - organized around three core commitments: * Gospel-centered: The gospel of grace in Jesus Christ changes everything, from our hearts to our community to the world. It completely reshapes the content, tone and strategy of all that we do. * City-centered: With a positive approach toward our culture, we learn to affirm that cities are wonderful, strategic and underserved places for gospel ministry. * Movement-centered: Instead of building our own tribe, we seek the prosperity and peace of our community as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

2. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul Tripp (Crossway 2012). Dangerous Calling reveals the truth that the culture surrounding our pastors is spiritually unhealthy—an environment that actively undermines the wellbeing and efficacy of our church leaders and thus the entire church body. Here is a book that both diagnoses and offers cures for issues that impact every member and church leader, and gives solid strategies for fighting the all-important war that rages in our churches today.

3. Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim (Jossey-Bass 2012). The Permanent Revolution is an original work of theological re-imagination and re-construction that draws from biblical studies, theology, organizational theory, leadership studies, and key social sciences. The book elaborates on the apostolic role rooted in the five-fold ministry from Ephesians 4 (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers), and its significance for the missional movement.

4. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared C. Wilson (Crossway 2012). Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, popular pastor Matt Chandler writes this punchy treatise to remind us what is of first and utmost importance—the gospel. Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!

5. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free by Tullian Tchividjian (David Cook 2012). In this world, one thing is certain: Everybody hurts. Suffering may take the form of tragedy, heartbreak, or addiction. Or it could be something more mundane (but no less real) like resentment, loneliness, or disappointment. But there’s unfortunately no such thing as a painless life. In Glorious Ruin, best-selling author Tullian Tchividjian takes an honest and refreshing look at the reality of suffering, the ways we tie ourselves in knots trying to deal with it, and the comfort of the gospel for those who can’t seem to fix themselves—or others. 

6. Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions? by David A. Black (Energion Publications 2012). The church in America has come to depend on professionals to "do ministry." In many churches, the pastor, paid to do the job, is the one who is expected to carry out all functions of the church. But it was not always this way. Jesus came as God-in-the-flesh. The pattern portrayed in the New Testament is that every Christian is part of the body of Christ, and the function of Christ's body is to be incarnational, to be Jesus Christ for the world (John 20:21).

7. Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God by Scott Thomas and Tom Wood (Zondervan 2012). Many ministry leaders serving in churches find themselves overwhelmed, disillusioned, and depressed by the enormous and challenging task of leading and serving others. When leaders aren't healthy, the result is often an unhealthy church. Leaders need someone to shepherd their soul so that they can then lead others to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Every church leader---from fulltime ministers to volunteer leaders---needs a Gospel Coach who will come alongside them with words drawn from Scripture and godly wisdom, grounded in the gracious saving work of Jesus Christ, and presented in the context of a trusting relationship. Gospel coaching is an intentional relationship of skillful caring for others based on four ancient shepherding principles: 1) Know the sheep 2) Feed the sheep 3) Lead the sheep 4) Protect the sheep Gospel coaches inquire about the personal, spiritual, and missional aspects of a leader's life in a loving yet focused manner, probing the heart for compulsive unbelief or selfish motivation, disobedience, and sin, leading them back to the Gospel through belief, repentance, and obedience.

8. The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken (B&H Publishing 2012/13). The Insanity of God is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, "Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place? It sure didn't work in Somalia.

9. Gospel Deeps by Jared C. Wilson (Crossway 2012). While pastoring for the past fifteen years, Jared Wilson has become known in contemporary evangelicalism for his passionate, gospel-centered writing and teaching. Following Wilson’s well-received publication of Gospel Wakefulness, he writes Gospel Deeps as a “next step” to establishing the need for astonishment, which begins by looking at the astonishing things God has done in and through Christ. Wilson holds up the gospel like a diamond and examines it facet by facet, demonstrating the riches of its implications. This book serves as a valuable contribution to the emerging canon of gospel-centered literature, in the spirit of John Piper’s Pleasures of God and Tim Keller’s emphasis on a “robust gospel,” and continues in the glory-reveling legacy left by Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, and the like. The distinctiveness of Gospel Deeps is found in Wilson’s winsome and frequently ecstatic writing voice, as well as his unique approach to showcasing the gospel’s beauty.

10. Every Day Church: Gospel Communities on Mission by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis (Crossway 2012). We live in an increasingly post-Christian culture. More and more we find ourselves on the margins as less and less people have any intention of ever attending church. What used to work doesn’t work anymore and we need to adapt.
Helping us to see the way forward, this book offers practical ideas and personal stories for engaging with Western society. Find out how to effectively reach people in the context of everyday life and take hold of the opportunity to develop missional communities focused on Jesus.

11. Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Mark Driscoll and Grace Driscoll (Thomas Nelson 2012). In Real Marriage, Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace, share how they have struggled and how they have found healing through the power of the only reliable source: the Bible. They believe friendship is fundamental to marriage but not easy to maintain. So they offer practical advice on how to make your spouse your best friend - and keep it that way. And they know from experience that sex-related issues need to be addressed directly.

12. Unleash: Breaking Free from Normalcy by Perry Noble (Tyndale House Publishers 2012). Why is it that we trust Jesus with our salvation but never fully trust him with our lives? God longs to unleash his full measure of power in our lives to fill us with passion and purpose. But too often the things of our past—fear, anger, bitterness, worry and doubt—hold us back. Rather than focusing on the reality of who Christ is and what he has done for us, we allow ourselves to be identified by all the things we aren’t. But we are not who our past says we are, and we are not who the enemy says we are. We are who God and his Word say that we are.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top Ten Posts of 2012

At the start of 2012 I was uncertain on whether or not I would continue to blog from India based on a variety of factors, but here we are at the end of the year and it has been by far the best year of blogging with both content, amount of posts, and interaction. As a way to say thank you to all of my readers from this year I want to share and reflect back on the top five blog posts from 2012. Be on the lookout for more and better content in 2013 with a new formatted blog to hopefully be released soon.

1. ESV Global Study Bible Giveaway

Of course a giveaway is likely to be the top posts when you are giving away something such as an ESV Bible. Be on the lookout for more giveaways in 2013.

2. The (Fattest) Elephant in the Sanctuary 

Yes, you read that right in case you missed this one. A good friend of mine started his own weight loss journey as the gospel stared him in the face and convicted him of his own weight issues but he also started to realize that in the hundreds of accountability conversations that he had that his weight never came up. Joshua was determined that something must be done to change this in our church settings, which is the idea behind Gospel Wellness.

3. Why Are The Unreached Unreached? 

Veteran overseas worker Nik Ripken makes his case for why the unreached are unreached in this article based off of his 25 plus years of overseas service. This is one man that we should all be humbled by and take time to learn from.

4. Why Christians Should Celebrate Halloween 

This is an orignal post by George Robinson that originally appeared on my blog on 2011 but it had enough hits and is written well enough that it was only fitting to include it in 2012. This year it received more traffic than the first time it was posted. George was one of my favorite seminary professors and continues to encourage and challenge me in how I live my own life. He is a former overseas worker that is continuing to live as a missionary regardless what culture he lives in.

5. The Church and Amendment One 

This posts came amidst one of the biggest controversies of 2012 with the passing of Amendment One. It was interesting to watch this one play out living from afar. The lead teaching pastor from my sending church, J.D. Greear, wrote an excellent piece on how to respond now that amendment one had been passed that also helps put things into perspective.

6. Does Taking a Stance = Being Openly Discriminatory? 

Amidst another large controversy involving Chickfila and the stance on marriage. Although this story has been overplayed, this was written when the story first released, before all the big names had written their piece on it. I think this helps show where America is in regards to stating your own belief if it differs from popular public opinion.

7. Lessons Learned One Year In Part 1 

This was the first of a three part series on lessons learned one year in overseas. Although part 2 and 3 did not make it into the top viewed posts of the year, I think they both have some important lessons too so you should also check them out.

8. Car Wrecks - An Opportunity to Glorify God 

Perhaps the hardest day that I have had living in India to date was on the day of my first ever accident. It was one of the most helpless moments of my life but I depended on God like never before in He provided in ways that allowed for him to receive the glory!

9. Traditional vs. Biblical 

This post developed out of being part of a training for a large Baptist Convention in India that has many man-made traditions that are not biblical that are hindering the gospel from going forward. This led me to reflect on my own upbringing in the Southern Baptist tradition and see how many in my own background are still struggling with this same thing.

10. Going Into Full-Time vs. Part-Time Ministry 

This post came as a way to bring out the unnecessary attitude that many of us carry around that we are "professional" ministers if we are full-time and that everyone else is an "amateur." And unfortunately this is as true overseas as anywhere by missionaries who think they are better than other based on their organization, status within that organization, and length of term. They too are hindering the spread of the gospel whether they realize it or not.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Summit Church Christmas at DPAC

The below video is the Christmas eve service from my sending church The Summit. It is longer than your traditional Christmas eve service but that is because it is packed full of Christ centered worship and a powerful gospel message from the lead teaching pastor. Having the opportunity to watch this from India greatly blessed me and my family and hope that it blesses you too. I know two hours is a long time to watch so if nothing else just have the sound on in the background while you do other things.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Celebrating King Jesus

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:1-14 ESV)


Friday, December 21, 2012

Jesus Film Media

The Jesus Film is a huge tool that has been used worldwide for years to help share the message of Jesus with those that have not heard. Although this is not and never will be my number one tool for evangelism, I do think that it is a tool that can assist in the process. This is especially helpful and useful in places like S. Asia where there are so many languages and films like this have proven to be a way to help spread the message of the gospel.

There is now a new Jesus Film App that allows you to have access to the Jesus film and other resources in over 1,100 languages! Once again not my number one go to tool but it is a tool and a great way to help share with those that you meet worldwide, especially when you do not know their language.

Even where I currently serve, the app has over 140 of the local languages in a culture where regardless how remote the people live, they all have cell phones. This is a huge asset and one way to help spread the message of the gospel to those around the world.

And of course the app is free for both android and iphone. I encourage you all to get this app, make use of it, and add one more tool to your toolbox of being able to share with all people from all cultures.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

John Piper reading "The Innkeeper"

Crossway Books and Desiring God have partnered together to give a gift this season of John Piper reading "The Innkeeper." It is worth the eleven minutes to watch it, so I hope you enjoy!

John Piper reads "The Innkeeper" from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Celebrating God's Faithfulness One Year In

It's hard to believe that my family is only two weeks away from our one year anniversary of serving as church planters in S. Asia. It has not always been an easy road but at the same time God has been faithful and blessed us in so many ways. As we have been reflecting over this last year of our lives we look on one hand at some of the difficulties that we have faced and been through as a family and in many ways it has been the roughest year we have had as a family. But then on the other hand we reflect on all the work that God has done through evangelism, discipleship, church planting groups, and living in a missional way in general. Although these numbers don't scratch the surface of the needs in S. Asia, they do represent peoples lives and families that have been changed by the gospel and new churches that are now in areas reaching people where there were no churches before.

For the new followers of Jesus that are now being discipled and the new churches that are now meeting we praise God! It has been incredible to see the gospel come alive in places where it was not living before and knowing that as a result through the local church these communities will be changed.

Many people are often confused on why are primary focus is not orphanages, water projects, or prostitues. While we are not against any of those things we firmly believe that it is only through the planting of a local church in a community that will cause a community to have everlasting change. So while we are not in anyway against those things, we put the majority of our efforts on seeing new churches started that in turn are to be the one that reach out to all of the other spheres of life.

For those of you who have partnered with us this last year through prayer, encouragement, giving, and serving next to us we want to say thank you! You have a bigger part in the work here than you realize and we truly could not be here if it were not for your partnership with us. We continue to look to you as the ones holding the rope for us back home. A special thank you to individuals and groups from the following churches: The Summit Church RDU, Northside Church WilmingtonWestern Avenue Baptist Church, and Summit Church Denver.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lessons Learned in Year One - Part 3

This is the third post in a series on lessons learned in year one as International Church Planters. To see part one go here and part two go here.

11. Find A Local Church to Invest In and Partner With

It is weird coming over as an International Church Planter when your primary role is to equip national brothers to be sent out to plant churches. In other words we help get them started, but we neither pastor or lead the church once it really gets started. This leaves us with the question of what to do as a family for church. Some cross-cultural workers choose to do family church or a form of house church, but in most cases with other foreigners. Neither of those is bad and we have freedom in Christ to express church in those ways but we have learned that it is beneficial to invest in and partner with a local church. This allows for further relationship building and it allows you to be a part of something larger that is trying to hopefully love and reach the city in which you live in. We made the mistake of bouncing around a good bit early on but are now actively involved with one local body that is also allowing us to help equip the people in the church to further the mission of God here.

12. Be Adaptable and Flexible

Some would say that these words are interchangeable and in some ways they are but not completely. In a broad sense they convey the same meaning but they are not identical. By being adaptable for us is making the long-term changes that needed to be made for our time here. In other words by adapting to our surroundings in a contextualized way. This can cover all areas of life from clothing to the way we drive. Being flexible is more of a short-term thing such as in the moment. So we have tried to adapt ourselves to the culture and tried to be flexible in the moment of whatever happens to be going on.

13. Work Like an Arminian and Sleep Like a Calvinist

We believe that we need to give it all that we have while we are here. So we like to adopt the mentality that while we are awake we work like an Arminian as if the work here depends on us. But at the end of the day we sleep like a Calvinist because the reality is that we know the work here does not depend on us but on God alone. We are here to do our part and the rest is up to God.

14. Take a Sabbath and a Vacation

I wrote a blog post on this one back in September when we took our first vacation in over a year. The truth is that we all need to take a day of rest to rest and remember that it is God that gives the increase. Along with this, the idea of a regular vacation is good as an extended period of rest or Sabbath. The truth is that whatever people group or city you are focused on, they will still be there waiting on you when you get back. Take a day off, take a vacation and enjoy yourself.

15. Remember It Isn't Simply About Winning More People to Christ but About Planting Churches Amongst All People Groups.

This is actually a quote from John Piper about missions. New followers of Christ is always something to rejoice about but I agree with Piper that the unique task of missions is to plant churches amongst all people groups because through the planting of the local church more people will become followers of Christ.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lessons Learned in Year One - Part 2

This is the second part in a three part series on lessons learned in year one as international church planters. To see part one click here.

6. Be Patient When Equipping Nationals

Once you have chosen some nationals to invest in, you will need to be patient in equipping them. One primary reason for this is that many of them are brand new believers themselves. A second reason for this is that often times what has been modeled for them in ministry is not very healthy so it can take some time to get them focused on a more sold biblical model.

7. Don't Invest All of Your Time or Resources In Only a Couple of Nationals.

The reason for this is that you can waste a lot of time. Yes, it is important to choose some nationals to invest in and you want to be patient with them, but if you spend all of your time with only a couple you are likely setting yourself up for disappointment. I have had to learn this the hard way at times this last year as many national partners turned their back on me only to spread rumors about me and other nationals. One guy in particular was the guy I saw with the most and learn.

8. Teach People To Be Missionaries

We commonly mistaken missionaries as only people who leave and go away to far away countries. While that is one aspect of missionaries, it misses the majority of people who are called to be missionaries right where they live. Serving in S. Asia I always focus on the nationals also being missionaries to their own culture as one day when I leave I do not want the work to stop or disciples to stop being made. For the entire year that I have been here I have been hitting the same drum over and over, the Great Commission and that it was given to all believers. I focus on the four things that all believers are to be actively doing: Go, Make Disciples, Baptize, and Teach Obedience.

9. Don't Be Surprised at Special Gift Support

We have been blessed to be sent out by our local church that partners with an organization which makes it possible for the majority of our finances to be taken care of. But there are always other ministry needs and a budget for extra things such as trainings, materials, Bibles, etc. For the most part we have never gone looking for this extra money but God has continued to use individuals and groups to bless the work and ministry here. As people such as high school students and single parents have given sacrificially in order to see people here have a chance to hear the gospel.

10. Don't Be Surprised At Conflict with Other International Workers

Although we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, we don't always treat each other that way. One of the number one reasons that cross-cultural workers leave the field early is because of other cross-cultural workers. That is the sad reality that we live in and the enemy loves pinning cross-cultural workers against one another. We have experienced our fair share of this and at other times observed it. It caught us off guard at first that some of those within our own organization would act in such ways. But by God's grace he has provided other foreign partners that many times are out here on their own. We were greatly reminded of this beautiful thing at Thanksgiving when we had over five different organizations represented as a family around one table.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lessons Learned in Year One - Part 1

My family left the US on January 1, 2012 and arrived in our new city on January 3, 2012. In our one year as church planters to an unknown land we have learned many important lessons. We desire to share these as a deeper way into our lives but also as a way to help prepare futurer international church planters. In no way is this list exhaustive or necessarily new to those who have been in our shoes before; and we do not pretend we have it all figured out because we learned something but rather we want to share our lessons to help others in the pipeline to serve internationally. To share these we will break it into three posts, each containing five lessons learned.

1. It's All About God's Glory

You would think that this is a given but many people struggle to keep this as the ultimate goal in church planting. It is easy to look at the numbers, if you have some to report, and allow some of that recognition to go to oneself. Our ultimate aim should be to continually point to Jesus as the one who worked and deserves the glory.

Our aim here should ring true with Psalm 115:1: "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!"

2. Go with or Join a Team

This cannot be stressed enough as any mission field can be a lonely place to be. Aside from that greater things usually happen with a larger group as they are able to do more. By joining an existing team we were able to not make some of the same mistakes that are teammates had already made in their time overseas.

This also allows for the work to be spread out to more places and areas in our part of the world. When joining an existing team it is also helpful to plan times of regular prayer, encouragement, and fellowship as it will take some time for true bonding to occur.

3. Set Clear and Realistic Expectations (Cultural, Language, Ministry, Etc.)

If you are the team leader it would be a good idea to establish what the expectations look like for those who are joining your team, especially in the areas of cultural, language, and ministry. Doing this sooner than later is a huge benefit to the overall team dynamic. It is a shame to be too lax on some things up front only to fumble through setting them up later.

This also helps so that there is no confusion and also allows for built in accountability. It is a shame to see people struggling through a certain area only because it is an unknown expectation, many times not realistic to their amount of time on the field.

4. Recognize that You Will Change, Your Marriage Will Change, and You Will Be Dealing with Change!

This is one that you hear a lot before moving overseas but it is also one area that you cannot fully grasp until experiencing it. It is not a bad thing, but it is a reality that if you try to ignore it may be your end. And it is not that you necessarily desire all of the change, but when you move to a cultural that is sometimes the opposite of your own then things will not continue to work as they did before. The most important thing is to recognize that this change will happen and use grace with one another through these changes.

5. Intentionally Choose Some Nationals to Invest In

You cannot invest in everyone, nor should you, but it is a good idea to intentionally choose some to invest in. You will not want to do this too early as it could blow up in your face but you also do not want to allow too much time to pass before choosing some to invest in heavily.

Friday, December 7, 2012

God Alone Can Enlighten Your Darkness

Someone recently sent me this excerpt in a care package from perhaps the greatest preacher of all time, Charles Spurgeon.  It was a great encouragement to me and hope that it is to you too regardless of what you are going through.

For thou wilt light my candle. 
Psalm 18:28

It may be that my soul sits in darkness; and if this be of a spiritual kind, no human power can bring me light. Blessed be God! he can enlighten my darkness, and at once light my candle. Even though I may be surrounded by a 'darkness which may be felt,' yet he can break the gloom, and immediately make it bright around me.

The mercy is, that if he lights the candle none can blow it out, neither will it go out for lack of substance, nor burn out of itself through the lapse of hours. The lighters which the Lord kindled in the beginning are shining still. The Lord's lamps may need trimming, but he does not put them out.

Let me, then, like the nightingale, sing in the dark. Expectation shall furnish me with music, and hope shall pitch the tune. Soon I shall rejoice in a candle of God's lighting. I am dull and dreary just now. Perhaps it is weather, or bodily weakness, or the surprise of a sudden trouble; but whatever has made the darkness, it is God alone who will bring the light. My eyes are unto him alone. I shall soon have the candle of the Lord shining about me; and, further on in his own good time, I shall be where they need no candle, neither light of sun. Hallelujah! 
-C.H. Spurgeon 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Story of God via Matt Papa

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."
-Romans 11:36

Monday, December 3, 2012

Joining God Where He is Working

For the past five days I have had the privilege of hosting a Spanish team from the Chicago area. This group is from a church of a few hundred and are just now starting to sense the need to get involved in God's larger mission around the world. I love groups like these because they come in recognizing that they have not been joining God in his global mission but are now seeing ways that they can get involved.

It has been a great few days as we have seen God call people to salvation in three different villages, totaling 18-25 people, and we were able to start a new church planting training set. This group has asked a lot of questions as they recognize that getting their entire church on board will not happen over night.

But what I have enjoyed the most about this group is that upon recognizing they were not fully obeying the Great Commission, they sought to where God would have them go to join in what He is doing. That process has now led them to S. Asia and based on their experience and seeing God move, this will not be the last time.

Currently they have sent nobody out of their local body to serve internationally and they have only taken a few trips, but I can sense that God is getting ready to use them in big ways to advance his church globally.

So maybe you too are at a church that is not obeying the Great Commission on a global scale. I encourage you to stay there, ride it out, and be the advocate for the church joining God where He is working globally.