Go, not come

I went to a training this past week near Chicago that was based on a Church planting movement that is doing amazing things all over the world. While there I was reintroduced to the Great Commission. Just as a quick reminder here is the Great Commission:

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

I have probably read this a bunch of times and yet the way it was presented to me at this conference smacked me right in the face. One of the presenters pointed out three parts to the Great Commission and he believes that these three things are at the core of what makes the commission so great. He said the three parts are:

1. Go – Jesus didn’t say make the people come and then make them disciples, he said go to them. Too often churches only invite people to them and don’t spend a lot of time going to the people. If we spend our time going then people will start coming to our churches more and more importantly their eternal lives will be forever changed.

2. Everyone – Jesus said go to all nations, not just the nations that were wealthy or strong or attractive. He said go to all nations and baptize them. Haven’t we all decided not to witness to someone for some reason or another?

3. Disciple – We aren’t supposed to witness to them and then leave them to fend for themselves, we are to disciple them and bring them closer to God through teaching. I remember going on a missions trip when I was younger and we claimed to have “saved” a specific number of people. I kept thinking to myself, that’s great, but what did we do for them now that we are gone? Did we set them up with a church? With other Christians? Did we do anything? We definitely could have done some of those things, but I knew at the age of 14 that we should be doing that. Why is it that people forget that once they are adults?

If we stay where we are, if we are selective about who we talk to and if we leave new Christians to fend for themselves then we have not fulfilled the commission that Jesus himself told us to fulfill. Let’s change the way we think about witnessing to people and really start changing this world.

Strangers on trains, planes and automobiles

On my recent trip to Maryland I had the pleasure of going to my sending church (well, that is once I leave they will be sending me), South Potomac Church. I love that church, but that is not the point of this blog.

Right before Pastor Dave Huffman talked about passing out invitation cards he showed a video from Worship House Media called “Strangers.” The idea behind the video was that you never know who you might be impacting when you share the gospel and that you could be sitting in a room with someone who was impacted by someone else who was impacted by someone you led to Christ. Let me explain it a little differently. In the video it shows a guy working at a coffee shop and a lady who is a customer of that coffee shop. The lady was the reason that guy accepted the Lord, but they had never met. It goes through the story of how the lady led her college roommate to Christ who led a coworker to Christ who became a public speaker and through a webcast caused a guy to come to Christ and then that guy witnessed to/mentored the guy in the coffee shop. I’m not going to lie, I cried a little. I didn’t sob, but a tear did squeek out of the corner of my eyes. Only one tear though. 🙂

Here is why my eyes watered. I don’t know how many people I have led to Christ, it is an unfortunate reality that I am not exactly proud of and I am working on changing. While watching the video I got a major urge to start a chain reaction of my own. The best part about it, is these chains do not glorify the person who started them because they may never know all of the people they impacted. Therefore the glory goes only to God and that got me even more excited.

After I watched the video I went to a training in the Chicago area and we talked about church planting movements and going beyond evangelism. That encouraged me even more to start with evangelizing right now, and not wait until I’m in Germany. There are lost people on trains, planes and automobiles who might just believe in Christ because of my story. So, I need to get that story told to as many people as possible and you know what? I think we all could share our story more than we do more and start some chains of our own.

Upcoming trips

Hey everyone,

I just thought I would update you all on some trips that I will be taking this month. If you are anywhere in this area and want to catch up or meet with me to learn more about my mission then please get a hold of me any way that you can.

Here’s my itinerary:

Nov. 30-Dec 4th – Waldorf, MD – running in a 5k on Saturday, catching up with supporters and visiting South Potomac Church

Dec. 4th-8th Wheaton/Hinckley IL – T4T (training for trainers) training and visiting family

Dec. 10th-Dec 14th – North Carolina – My first set of meetings that directly deal with my mission. Meeting with other technology in missions people to collaborate and come up with the best ways to work together to further spread God’s kingdom. I’m totally excited about this.

I definitely could use your prayers as I am traveling more than I am used to. Thank you so much!

Theology books? Who’s got the money?

So the other week I wrote about theology books and my goal of reading 15 within the next year. In preparation for starting the list I checked out how much this would cost me. I have a kindle so I am looking to get as many in ebook format as possible.

I totaled up all of the costs and it came out to $139.42. It’s honestly less than I thought it was going to be, but nonetheless it is still a decent amount of money to spend on books. It’s even more than that if you buy them as paperbacks (which is not necessary since Amazon has a free software program to read ebooks on your ipod, ipad, smartphone or computer if you don’t mind reading them electronically). I wanted to find a way to reduce the cost for me and for anyone looking to dig deeper into theology. I found a website ebookfling.com that allows users to lend and borrow ebooks to/from other users. You can borrow any book that another user has made available for 14 days and if you need longer than that you can borrow it an unlimited number of times. Think about it like a virtual library. You borrow an available book until the due date. If you didn’t finish you check it out again until you are finished.

I immediately check out the books I plan on reading and I was severely disappointed. There were only two of the books that I wanted to read that I didn’t already own and only two of them are allowed to be lent. Some publishers or authors do not allow their book to be lent for obvious reasons, but there were two books that I can borrow. The problem is, only one of them has been available for me right now because no one has said they have the other book.

Here is what I am thinking. Don’t we want to have as many people reading theological books as possible? What if we all went on this site and made every book we weren’t currently reading available for lending? What if every author and publisher would allow the lending of their books? It wouldn’t kill the profit margin because libraries have been doing this for a long time, so don’t worry about that. What it just might do is encourage more people to dig deeper into the Bible.

My plan is as soon as I am done reading a theology ebook I will make it available on ebookfling that way anyone who wants to read it can borrow it for free. Maybe there is another way to help get theology books to the masses, I just don’t know it. If you do, please feel free to share as I would love to be able to save money and still read these books.

Galatians 6 Restoring Gently

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Galatians 6:1

I seem to have a horrible sense of balance. Part of it was just natural skill at being unbalanced and part of it, I’m sure, comes from the fact that my stomach muscles have been cut into during two different surgeries thereby making them weaker to support me. Regardless of why I have difficulty balancing my self, I struggle especially in the winter-time when it is icy out. I can’t tell you how many times I have fallen on my butt only to have to struggle to gain enough balance to stand up while still on the ice. It’s not easy.

Most of the time when I fall I am all alone (thank goodness!), but I sometimes imagine what my friends would do if they were there. What technique would they use to help me up, that is if they weren’t too busy doubled over in laughter. Would they grab my hand and yank with all their might? Would they barely lift at all, making me still do all the work? Would they grab with both hands and gently lift taking care to apply force when I need it? Would they stand on the ice with me or just off of it if possible?

How do you help a fellow Christian when they stumble? Do you just laugh when they fall? Do you try to pull them from the depths of despair with all of your might? Do you just put out a hand and barely do anything to help? Or do you grab with both hands, support them and apply force when and where needed while making sure not to step into what caused their stumble? Paul says that we should help them gently and humbly, making sure they get back on the right path without falling into temptation ourselves.

This isn’t an option, we need to help those who have stumbled, period!

This ends my study of Galatians, I am going to do some personal studies for a little while and then maybe I’ll post another study after the New Year. Thank you for joining me.

Galatians 5:13-26 Acts of the Flesh and Fruits of the Spirit

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:19-26

There is no story today, no modern day example for today’s reading, only the stark realization of how many of the acts of the flesh we commit on a regular basis. I don’t want to concentrate on the negative so I will leave it at this. We are are saved through the grace of Christ are not subject to these anymore. Through the Holy Spirit we can truly experience the fruits of the Spirit.

I want to quote from a Bible study series that I have been consulting during my study of Galatians because what they say about the fruits of the Spirit does a great job explaining each and showing how to apply them. The book is Galatians: Walking in God’s Grace by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz. They say:

Love, joy, peace. These virtues point to our relationship with God. Our first love should be for God, our joy should be in God, and our peace should be first and foremost with God.

Patience, kindness, goodness. These three virtues refer to our relationship with others. Patience is the quality of hanging in there with people, even when they irritate or offend us. Kindness reflects a pleasant disposition, and goodness stems from our words and deeds towards others.

Faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These three virtues focus on our inner selves. When we keep our commitments, we are faithful. When we act with humility and an attitude of service, we are gentle. And when we exercise self-control, we are doing the opposite of indulging our flesh.

Galatians 5:1-12 Freedom is a gift, say thank you today!

Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. Galatians 5:2-4

If you read my post a few days ago on Galatians 4:1-20 you will see an analogy between slavery in the US and being slaves to sin. In the analogy I compared someone going into a slave market and buying all of the slaves, setting them free and adopting them into their family to what God had done for each and every one of us. We were all slaves, God sent his representative down to Earth to purchase us and we are now God’s children. I am going to extend that analogy and look at the slaves response to that choice. Lets say that the owner tells each of his new adopted children that they can stay or go, the choice is theirs and their freedom is not affected either way. It is theirs to keep.

I can only imagine what an actual slave would do if their freedom was bought and they were given an option to join the family of the person who paid for their freedom, but for the sake of this analogy I can see three possible reactions from the slaves:

1. The former slaves embrace their new family and out of their gratefulness and respect for their adoptive parent they do work for them to show their appreciation.

2. The former slaves go to live with the adoptive parent, but only take from them, giving nothing in return.

3. The former slaves say thanks, but no thanks and strike off on their own attempting to do the best they can without any help from their adoptive parent.

Do you see your reaction in those three examples? Maybe you are a mix of two of them, sometimes showing your love through works and sometimes trying to strike out on your own. I know I struggle to be living like the first response. I want to live every day showing God my love and appreciation for Him by doing good works, not because I have to because my salvation is secure, but because I want to. I want to show others a tiny example of what God has done for them and me.

How will you show your appreciation for God’s gift today? Will you help someone on the side of the road? Give a few dollars to someone in need? Pay for a random person’s coffee? Listen to a friend or stranger in need? Write an e-mail of thanks to someone who means something to you? How can you help others see Christ in you right now, in the next hour or sometime today?

“Freedom in Christ does not give us the right to do as we please, but the power and ability to do as we ought.” Max Anders