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Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

Who are those souls that will spend an eternity in heaven with the Father because of your example and testimony?  I have been asking myself this question this morning.

One of my readings today was John 4.  At the end of this chapter, an official traveled to Jesus to ask him to make the journey to his home (a day away) in order to heal his son.  Jesus did not make the trip but he did tell the man, Your son will live.

The man headed home from this encounter and while he was still on the way, people from his household came running to tell him his son was alive and well.  When he asked them when this new development occurred they told him the boy got better at 1:00 the day before.  The man realized that was the exact time Jesus had told him that his son would live.

We are told, as this story closes, that the man and all his household believed.  They believed!  They had experienced the touch of Jesus even though only one had actually seen Jesus and they all believed!

As I have pondered this account.  What is most obvious to me is that the family encountered healing.  They rejoiced in a son made well.  But had the father not been there to tell them how it came about, they would have simply been happy about it but oblivious to the one to whom credit was due.

How many people in our lives experience the touch of Jesus but, because they have not met Jesus, don’t even realize what has happened?  It is up to us to point them to the author of faith and the giver of life.

1 Peter 3 15

Will they see Jesus through me – not just in my actions but in my words?

The father in this account believed and because he believed and shared the full story with his household and they all believed as well.

Is that not our calling – to share Jesus?

May heaven be populated by the souls who saw Jesus in you on this earth.

Be a blessing today!

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We began a new sermon series yesterday – Called To Be Missional.  The idea is that as believers we are called to live our lives to please God – to know God and make him known.  We are part of something so much bigger than ourselves.  We are part of a movement that began with Jesus building his church over 2000 years ago – and this movement actually began with a relationship that stretches back to the very beginning.

There is more going on all around us than we can possibly comprehend.  God is at work all the time – but do we see his hand at work?  There are needs we pass by everyday but has the constant sight of those needs caused us to become numb?  Have we allowed the need around us to blend into the backdrop of our daily, busy lives and thus go unnoticed?

It can be overwhelming!  When we are sensitive to seeing needs and God’s movement around us, we can become overwhelmed to the point of paralysis.  But remember this:

You cannot do everything – – but you must do something.

God created you to meet a need that only you can meet.

What an amazing calling!

Live into that calling today!

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Yesterday, I shared my thoughts on what a model church should look like based on 1 Thessalonians 1. The picture painted there is a body of Jesus followers who allow their faith to produce work that is characterized by love and carried out with hope in Christ.

But what is the work? If our faith is to produce work, what should that work entail?

Book shelves are easily filled with books talking about the work of the church. Seminars and conferences draw attendees looking for that next big plan that will push their churches to the “next level.”

We spend hours crafting mission statements and strategies.  We evaluate and plan, we research, investigate and develop ideas.

All of those things are extremely important.  And each ministry setting is unique.  But I think the work of the church can be defined universally, at its core, as making disciples.  ThChurch Line Drawinge church that is making disciples who in turn make disciples is living out the Great Commission – the church’s marching orders.

With this understanding then, our faith should lead us to lovingly make disciples, placing our hope not in our own efforts but rather in the savior we serve.

Lord Jesus, may you find us faithful!

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I catch myself often speaking negatively about the culture in which we live.  It is easy to become frustrated by the lack of recognition and acknowledgement of objective truth within our culture.  We are bombarded by media and news reports that tell us that the greatest good in our world today is tolerance.  If tolerance is the only thing that matters, then it wins out when it comes to disagreement as to what is true – being tolerant of another view takes precedence over what is inherently true.truth1

While I hold diligently to the reality of objective truth, I also know that if we are to fulfill our mission to make disciples in this generation, then we must adjust our strategy.  Notice I did not say adjust the truth – but rather, adjust our strategy.  If we are to reach and influence our culture, we must do so with love and humility.  This shouldn’t be earth-shattering news – it is the method Jesus used.

Yesterday, I received a book from a dear friend.  The book is one of Dallas Willard’s many works entitled, The Allure of Gentleness:  Defending the Faith In the Manner of Jesus.  One of the things Willard says in this book is “the call to ‘give an account’ is, first, not a call to beat unwilling people into intellectual submission, but to be the servant of those in need, often indeed the servant of those who are in the grip of their own intellectual self-righteousness and pride, usually reinforced by their social surroundings.”

We are called to make disciples.  We are also called to be the servant of all.  I would suggest that while this call to be a servant is especially true within the family of God, it is also true when it comes to relating to our world.

So today, instead of sitting back and passing judgement on a culture that frustrates us, perhaps we make time to simply sit and listen.  To engage someone in an honest, spiritual conversation that is free of contempt.

The truth that the world will know we are his disciples by our love is as relevant today as it was the day Jesus said it.

Hold fast to his truth today – but do so with humility and love.

Be a blessing!

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Our mission team made it home for the Dominican Republic safely last week and then we spent the rest of the week recovering and catching up on all the things that went undone while we were gone.  It was a wonderful trip and as I process the experience in the coming days, I will share more with you about what God did and is doing.

But one thought has stayed with me as I have reintegrated back into my schedule and that is the importance of the church being the church outside the walls of our buildings.  I saw a group of people who left the comforts of air conditioning and television and went to minister in another country.  I saw the impact of the church truly being the church and I saw the difference it has made in the lives of those serving as well.

Moving forward, we must continue to look for ways to BE the church to a world who needs to see believers living out their faith.  This coming Sunday afternoon our church is having “First Baptist Day at the Hooks.”  The Hooks is a double A ball club here in Corpus Christi (that is doing very well this season by the way).  Our church is going to have a presence at the game this coming Sunday afternoon.  Those among us that are musically gifted will be singing the national anthem to begin the game.

HooksAnd our Recreation Minister has orchestrated an invitation for me to throw out the first pitch.  Do you know how long it has been since I threw a baseball – let alone 60 plus feet in front of thousands of people.  To answer the first half of that question – a very long time.  To answer the second half of that question – NEVER.

So – OK – I may be a bit nervous, but here is the point, this will be just one simple way for the church to be visible in the world.  We will be supporting our local team, enjoying wonderful fellowship and showing all those present that our church family loves being together and loves Jesus.  Being the church in the community does not always have to involve back breaking service (although that is often a key component) – it also takes the form of the church being real and showing love and community.

Now where did I put my ball glove – I think I need to practice!

Be a blessing today!

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It is hard to believe that we are headed back home today after almost seven days in the Republica Dominicana. I apologize that I have not posted daily as I had hoped. Between the internet being down most of the time and our busy schedule, I have not been able to keep up.

We had an amazing week! Our team pulled together and pushed each other beyond what any one individual thought they could do. We built ten desks and two book cases for teachers in one of the schools we have worked with in the past and then delivered them. We had three ladies from our team offer teacher training to teachers in a school in Villa Alta Gracia. We had ladies from our team help with the sewing ministry here at Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana (IBQ), making costumes for a huge city wide production the church put on this past week. We did VBS and sports camps with kids in two different areas. We had a part in a pastor and wife conference and a three of our ladies helped almost daily with meals for our team – pitching in with the local cooks.

And Sunday was a beautiful experience. We had the opportunity to worship in the morning with IBQ and then with a church in La Romana on Sunday night. Chris, our Student Pastor, and leader of this trip spoke at IBQ on Sunday night at the youth service and I had the blessing of preaching Sunday morning at IBQ and then Sunday night at La Romana. There is something special about worshipping with brothers and sisters of another country. We have been guests in their country and they have welcomed us in. I was reminded as we worshipped together that when our focus is on praising God, our differences fade away and what we have in common takes center stage – one God, one faith, one body (Ephesians 4).

Bryson, one of our team members (and my son) said, “I am ready to go home, but I don’t want to leave.” I think that sums up the feelings of each of our team members!

God is at work in the Dominican and we are blessed to have even a minute part in it.

Please pray for IBQ, our Dominican brothers and sisters and for safe travel for our team as we travel home today.

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As the sun comes up over Santo Domingo, our group is beginning to stir.  The first two days have been amazing but today, the fatigue will begin to set in.  The first day of a mission trip is filled with the excitement and adrenaline of being in a new place and a person runs off of the energy that is created by the thought of doing something significant.

By day two, reality begins to creep in and one realizes this is hard work and the heat is nearly unbearable – but – we are doing good work and making a difference.  But in my experience, day three is a turning point for most people.  By day three, the glamour of spiritual tourism has worn off and one is faced with a decision.  It is at this point in the trip that one must decide – “am I here to serve or be served.”

Ultimately, most decide to die to self and give all they have to serve God and others.  God gives us that choice.  But really, is it any different at home?

Our group is doing well.  The unity has grown immensely over the first two work days (as well as the day of travel).  In fact, last night we had a game night.  The evening is designed to give the missionaries some downtime but also bring in local kids to play games.  As I watched the interaction, I was reminded of how we aren’t so different – Dominicans and Americans.  It was a beautiful picture of heaven – except for the noise – my vision of heaven is less loud.

Continue to pray for our group.  Pray that today they will fully die to self and commit to live for others this day.  That could be the prayer for each of us each day.

Be blessed.

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