Flip and Francois

A few months ago I spent several days in Uganda working with a wonderful ministry there called Four Corners (www.fourcorners.org).  Myself and two other men from Park Place went to train Pastors and church leaders in discipleship.

While we were there there was a Father/Daughter team waiting to serve alongside us.  We did not know them before we got there but we quickly found a common bond in our love for the Lord and for the nations.

Shane (the Dad) shared a story with us the very first night that we all found quite interesting.  He and his daughter (Hannah) had to travel a different route to get to Uganda than originally planned and were even delayed a day because of it.  They shared that they left one African country on an airplane and met a young man on the plane that they interacted with briefly.  Uniquely, they had the same connecting flight with him from the second country to Uganda.  This was very unusual but they smiled and laughed about this unique situation.

They left the airport that next day and drove 8 hours north to the town we would all be serving in.  To their surprise, this same young man was in that same rural town at the restaurant that Shane and Hannah went to eat lunch.

(I don’t know if you are picking up on this but this is now the 3rd country and 4th city that these two parties have “coincidentally” run into each other.)

While at lunch Shane found out that this young man’s name was Flip and he was from South Africa visiting his friend Francois.  The two young men were polite and certainly thought it was interesting to see these two in so many different places.  Only a few minutes after Flip and Francois left the restaurant, Shane and Hannah were disappointed in themselves for not taking the time to share the gospel with them.  So, Shane asked God to put them in their path one more time.

That is exactly what God did.  20 minutes later, at a small grocery store the two parties met again.  This time, Shane was not letting the opportunity pass him by.  Shane shared the gospel with these two young men.  They were both very kind but neither chose to follow Jesus at that time.

Fast forward a week later and our team was supposed to travel 2 hours in a different direction to go on a safari.  We had actually tried to cancel the safari but were unable to for unique reasons so we decided to move ahead with the plan.  You guessed it, as we arrived at the Safari entrance the only other car in line was the car of Flip and Francois.  We thanked God for such an unbelievable opportunity and hoped to see them at the hotel.  God providentially brought that about once again.

As we sat down at the hotel table, Flip and Francois laughingly greeted us and commented about how crazy this was to have met them again.  A few minutes later Flip approached our table.  He asked Shane if he could meet to talk with him about some things.  Shane agreed and ended up skipping the Safari trip and seeing all the wonderful animals to stay back and visit with Flip.

Flip had just a few questions about discipleship and following Christ, in which it was made clear that Flip was already a believer.  However, Francois was an entirely different story.  He had never made that decision to follow Christ.  He simply couldn’t ignore it anymore.  Shane was able to point Francois to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and by the powerful Word of Christ.

Moments later Shane and Francois were in the baptismal waters of the hotel pool.  Praise the Lord for his grace.  Praise the Lord that He pursues us in every country and every setting.  Praise the Lord for the faithfulness of one man to see the salvation of a soul to be more important the sight of an animal.

Hungry?

Let me tell you a few brief stories from some of my past experiences.

Uganda – In order for church leaders to be able to gather to receive training they walked over 2 hours to make sure they were on time.  They sat for 6 hours listening to preaching and then walked back 2 hours.  And then they did it again the next day.  Why?: Uganda Believers Hunger for the Word

Philippines – In order for church leaders to have training they drove for 4 to 6 hours on a motorcycle with four people on it through the jungle.  They slept in the ground and they sat on a small wooden bench for 8 hours a day for 3 days to study God’s Word.  They listened to 4 sermons in a row without a break because they didn’t want to accidentally miss anything.  Why?: Philippines Believers Hunger for the Word

China – In order for the church leaders to have training they had to come at night.  They couldn’t come all at once and they had to all leave at different times.  They had to be very quiet as we sat in the apartment.  And two weeks after I left the police raided the apartment and warned them all to never meet like that again.  Why?: Chinese Believers Hunger for the Word

Russia – In order for the church leaders to have training they traveled by car for hours to a campground, slept in tents, and sat on stumps from the forrest.  They sat for hours at a time studying and learning so that they could take it back to their churches.  Why?: Russian Believers Hunger for the Word

Keep these truths in mind and then ask yourself the question: Do I hunger for the Word?

Is there any hatred that is ok?

This past weekend has brought about some extremely significant actions that have brought about strong words.  Words like nazi, racism, supremacy, hate, rage, fear have all been mentioned.  There have been those who took a stand for something that they believe to be right and others who stood against what they believe to be wrong.

The reality is, there was disastrous consequences that came from the actions that followed such vile words.  These words aren’t just demeaning in nature, they are filled with a hatred that is not only wrong, it is heartbreaking.

I have watched a lot of news, read several articles, and seen multiple clips from sermons and others as they responded to these tragic events.   In one of those responses, a man, who is not a Christian, said that he felt he had a duty to stand up against hatred.  He is a famous actor who has a lot of followers – his point was that he would be wrong to not help others see the tragedy for what it is.  I thought to myself, if this non-Christian has a responsibility to stand and proclaim that racism, nazism, and white supremacy are wrong than I certainly have an even stronger responsibility to do the same.

I realize that to many of us, those words seem obvious.  But let me pose a different question…

“Is there any kind of hatred that is ok?”

The Bible, God’s Holy Word, gives us some clear direction in this.  The book of Amos tells us to “hate evil and love good…”(5:15).  As believers we are to be ones who hate the evil of this world.  We are to be ones that hate sin for what it is.

We must be careful to draw a line as it is our responsibility to still “love our enemies” as Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 5.  But it is clear throughout the Old and New Testaments that the only hatred that we ought to have is toward sin.

We must make these sorts of proclamations from our pulpits and in our workplaces, and in our classrooms, and on the ball fields, and in our Sunday School classes, and our small groups, and in our neighborhoods.

In addition, if this is not clear already, God is not a racist!  He does not hold a preference toward a certain race, or people group, or ethnicity.  Instead, in the book of Revelation we read the following truth, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude, that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” (8:9-10).

Not only will there be different races and ethnicities and languages and people groups in Heaven, we will all be gathered around the throne TOGETHER worshipping the one true God.  May we as a people of God stand together united against racism and the wickedness of man and proclaim the love of Christ toward all people of all nations.

10 books on missions

These books are in no particular order but I do recommend these for anyone interested in reading books on missions.

Let the Nations Be Glad – John Piper

The Insanity of God – Nik Ripken

The Insanity of Obedience – Nik Ripken

Back to Jerusalem – Three Chinese House Church Leaders Share their Vision to Complete the Great Commission – Brother Yun, Peter Xu Yonge, Enoch Wang, and Paul Hathaway

What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom and the Great Commission – Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert

When Missions Shapes the Mission You and Your Church Can Reach the World – David Horner

MissionShift Global Mission Issues in the Third Millennium – David Hesselgrave and Ed Stetzer

Revolution in World Missions – K.P. Yohannan

The Bridges of God A Study in the Strategy of Missions – Donald Anderson McGavran

Introduction to Global Missions – Zane Pratt, David Sills, and Jeff Walters

16 Ways to Pray for Missionaries

This is a list provided by David Platt during a sermon on August 24, 2016.

  1. Confidence in God’s Word (Acts 13:4-5)
  2. Filled with God’s Spirit (Acts 13:6-9)
  3. Victory in Spiritual Warfare (Acts 13:10-12)
  4. Success in Gospel Witness (Acts 13:12)
  5. Peace with Other Believers (Acts 13:13)
  6. Favor with Unbelievers (Acts 13:14-15)
  7. The Gospel will be Clear Through Them (Acts 13:16-47)
  8. God will Open Hearts Around Them (Acts 13:48)
  9. Joy in the Midst of Suffering (Acts 14:1-2)
  10. Kindness in the Midst of Slander (Acts 14:1-2)
  11. Supernatural Power to Accompany Them (Acts 14:3)
  12. Christ-Like Humility to Characterize Them (Acts 14:4-18)
  13. Patience (Acts 14:8-18)
  14. Perseverance (Acts 14:19-20)
  15. God would use Them to Make Disciples (Acts 14:21-23)
  16. God would use Them to Multiply Churches (Acts 14:24-28)

6 books on short-term missions

These books are in no particular order but I do recommend these to anyone involved in leading the church in short-term mission efforts.

Short-Term Mission An Ethnography of Christian Travel Narrative and Experience – Brian Howell

Mack and Leeann’s Guide to Short-Term Missions – Mack and Leeann Stiles

Maximum Impact Short-Term Mission The God-Commanded REpetiticue Deployment of Swift, Temporary Non-Professional Missionaries – Roger Peterson, Gordon Aeschliman and Wayne Sneed

Serving with Eyes Wide Open Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence – David Livermore

Effective Engagement in Short-Term Missions: Doing it Right! – Robert Priest

Transformission Making Disciples Through Short-Term Missions – Michael Wilder and Shane Parker

5 Ways to Make Disciples

Several years ago when I was studying for my Master’s degree I was taught these simple truths.  The realities of Disciple Making came alive to me as though I had never been doing it quite right.  I realized then what I have been striving to put into practice ever since…Making Disciples is intended to be a part of everything you do as a believer.  Here are five areas of your walk with Christ that if you change just slightly you can be more effective in Making Disciples of all nations.

Pray

Yes, cast your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you (1 Peter).  Yes, present your requests to God.  Yes, ask, seek, and knock and He will answer!  But have you ever thought that an essential truth to all of that is that we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers to the field (Luke 10).  We are to pray that God would save people.  We are to pray that God will bring clarity, and open up the mystery of the gospel to the lost (Colossians 4).  We don’t need to simply pray, we need to pray intentionally for God to Make Disciples through us.

Study

Some of us enjoy studying.  Some of us don’t.  The reality is that many of only study when we have to.  Right, we study when it is our turn to teach the Sunday School lesson.  Or, we study when we realize that our kids know more about the Bible stories than we do.  But it is best for us to study as though we are always going to be teaching.  We should always be ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3).  We should be preparing our minds for action (1 Peter 1).  We should be renewing our minds (Romans 12).  We read the Bible each day, not just so we can check a box off our to-do list.  We study the nuances of Scripture, not just so we stay one step ahead of our 1st grader.  We seek to know God’s Word so that we can be ready, prepared, and renewed to be Disciple Makers.

Give

I’m sure you aren’t shocked by this one.  Right, a preacher telling you that you have to give money in order to be a Disciple Maker-Big Shock.  Well, here is the truth.  Scripture has over 2600 references to money, giving, and spending.  Therefore, it is clearly a significant discussion point throughout all of it.  The reason it seems so significant is because it can be so effective.  Do you realize how your money is effectively used to help get the gospel around the World?  For instance, at our church, 10% of every non-designated dollar given to the church goes to disciple making in other contexts.  We give money to the local Baptist Association, the State Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention (who allocates monies to support missionaries around the United States (NAMB) and the globe (IMB).  Not to mention the thousands of dollars allocated within our budget that are designated for mission partnerships, evangelistic training, spiritual development, and biblical equipping.  Give your money to these causes because these causes help unify the church in her effort to Make Disciples.

Go

You may have thought that this would have been the first on the list.  However, the reality is that going is often times the first thing people want to do without doing any of the other.  But if you haven’t prayed, studied, or given anything-I might simply prefer that you stay home.  Yet, if you have prayed, studied, and are actively giving, then what is stopping you from taking this all important step of taking the truth of the Gospel to the lost.

Mobilize

Finally, one of my favorite words to think about in regards to Making Disciples.  When we most effectively Make Disciples we are training and equipping Disciples who will go on to Make more Disciples and so on and so forth.  The goal is not simply to make converts but to intentionally send others out that they too may train others for this very same work (2 Timothy 2:2).