Jesus

30Jul

Why We Are Going

In ten days my wife Susan and I will join three others from our church on a short-term mission trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand where we will partner with missionaries who were sent out of our church. There are a lot of different perspectives on short term mission trips. Some people view them as a waste of time and resources while others see them as strategic in advancing the gospel across the globe. Short-term mission trips can certainly be hijacked by poor planning, improper motivations, unequipped participants, and unrealistic expectations among whole host of other contributors. However, I believe our upcoming trip to Thailand will be strategic in advancing the gospel for at least three reasons:

Encouragement –  Everyone needs encouragement. When you consider the challenges missionaries face living cross culturally, away from many comforts, far away from family and friends, with the task of learning a new language and way of life, the need for encouragement is typically heightened. We are praying our visit to our missionary friends will strengthen them in the same way the Apostle Paul’s short term visits strengthened other disciples, “When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phyrgia, strengthening all the disciples.” Acts 18:22-23

Timely, personal encouragement can be a game changer for those on the front lines of gospel advancement. Pray that we will be effective at encouraging our missionary friends.

Evangelism – I’m crazy excited about what God may do as we share the gospel in Chiang Mai. Taking direction from our missionary friends, we’ve crafted a plan to conduct spiritual surveys that close by sharing the gospel or inviting them to come to an event where our missionary friend will share the gospel in Thai. Part of this plan was inspired by a visit to a coffee shop I made last year when I was visiting them. I noticed a coffee mug on the shelf from one my favorite coffee shops in NYC and struck up a conversation with the barista who happened to speak english. The conversation flowed so naturally and a seed was planted in my mind. What if we went to the areas in Chiang Mai (like that coffee shop) where there are lots of english speakers and engaged in dozens if not hundreds of conversations that funneled toward sharing the gospel? The worst case scenario is that we would further equip our missionary friends to know where God may be working and what kind of engagement the Thai people may or may not respond to. The best case scenario however — imagine with me — is if a church was planted as a result of gospel conversations! This is the audacious prayer I’m praying as we go! Join us in prayer — that we may be humble, culturally sensitive and appropriate, and evangelistically faithful and fruitful.

Exposure – Lastly, we are going because God’s people need more exposure to what God is doing around the world. One may quickly and rightly rebuttal that in our day of incredible technologies we have more opportunities for exposure than ever before. Though, videos and live video smart phone applications abound, there is simply nothing like being incarnate on the ground. When we walk among the unreached peoples of the world and experience the great need for the gospel and more laborers, something is awakened in us. Seeing the people is more powerful than hearing the statistics. First hand exposure, leads us to pray for the nations more faithfully and fervently. First hand exposure propels us to give more intentionally and sacrificially to missions. Through first hand exposure, we become story tellers of God’s global movement. We tell stories of the need which causes more awareness and concern for global mission. Short-term trips transform into life long callings.

Would you pray for us, as we go? When done right, short term mission trips can strategically advance the gospel across the globe. This is what we are praying for. This is why we are going.

2Feb

Disciples Making Disciples – Part 2

Life today, is not simple. For many people, life actually feels increasingly complex. We live in a day where we have many choices as to how we spend our time with all kinds of people and activities vying for our time and energy. The sheer volume of entertainment and recreation activities out there leaves most people in a state of anxiety – that they are missing out on something – all the time.

In reality, almost everything is noise.

If we are not careful, we’ll allow all the noise to keep us from engaging in the most important things. What are the most important things? Or to ask it a little more narrowly, what is THE most important thing? What is the most important thing we can give our time and energy to today? Tomorrow? Every day?

Are you ready for it? Are you ready to be blown away? Are you ready to be amazed? Here it is…

As a disciple, make disciples. Said another way, walking with God, help others walk with God. Or even another way, Living for Jesus, help others live for Jesus. Love God, help others love God. It doesn’t really matter how you say it. What really matters is, do we do it? Do we walk with God and help others walk with God? The average Christian can quickly take an inventory of their “christian activity” and relieve their conscience that they are walking with God and helping others walk with God. They attend church. They teach a Sunday school class. Unfortunately, so much of our “christian activity” is void of deep authentic relationship. We’re friends with people, but not family. We have a social connection, but we don’t feel like fellow soldiers. We simply keep things surface and check off our “christian activity” boxes.

Could it be that God longs for each of us to experience something more?

Imagine sitting down over coffee with someone once a week for a couple of months. Getting to know them, helping them identify where they, where God wants them to go, and what next steps to take. Rocket science? Not really. Need to be a bible scholar to begin? Nope. What is required to take your first step in making disciples? Walk with Jesus. Then what? Initiate a relationship with someone and FOLLOW THROUGH! What is required? Intentionality.

There are many, many equipping resources and guides out there to help shepherd discipling relationships. What there isn’t an abundance of is people willing to obey Jesus’ commission to “make disciples.” The secret sauce is intentional relationships and it has simply be left off the bun. As a result, most people’s christian experience is bland and boring.

Though our “christian activity” alone isn’t getting it done, neither is it the enemy to discipleship. Done well, a lot of “christian activity” can be an important and supplemental part of discipleship. The enemy to disciples making disciples is the absence of intentional, authentic relationships.

Chances are, the people that God wants you to disciple are right under your nose.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for allowing all the noise to distract me from what matters most. Thank you for giving me another chance at living your mission. Show me who to disciple and give me the courage to take a next step. Help me not to obsess over the product or destination and help me to enjoy the process and the journey. Let’s do this, Lord Jesus for the glory of our Father!

(if you need a little more guidance to get started, email me – freddyt(at)fsbcs(dot)org.)

31Jan

Disciples Making Disciples – Part 1

Are you a disciple of Jesus? Don’t answer too quickly. Think about it.

If you don’t meet with Jesus daily, listening to him and learning from him in his word but you check facebook every day — then you are not a disciple of Jesus but you are a disciple of facebook.

If you don’t meet with Jesus daily, listening to him and learning from him in his word but you do watch television every day — then you are not a disciple of Jesus but you are a disciple of the television.

You get the point. The good news is that Jesus will disciple us if we meet with him. Unfortunately, the culture is just as reliable in discipling us too. Walking with Jesus, listening to him and learning from him requires discipline. If you are lazy, it isn’t going to happen.

So are you a disciple of Jesus?

What step do you need to take today toward growing as a disciple of Jesus? What is preventing you from a close, growing relationship with Jesus?

Jesus will disciple you if you let him.

 

30Jul

TGC 2014 WOMEN’S CONFERENCE

Over the years, one of the greatest catalysts for spiritual growth in my life has been listening to audio sermons, interviews and bible studies. I listened to literally hundreds of sermons going back and forth from college back in the late 1990s. Then again in 2005-2006 when I was traveling from Louisville back to TN to preach every weekend (3 hours each way) I listened to hundreds of sermons and pastoral interviews.   The apostle Paul said that transformation comes by having our minds renewed (Romans 12:2). Listening to sermons helps renew our minds = a transformed life.

The Gospel Coalition recently posted a wealth of resources online from their 2014 National Women’s Conference. I think they’ll be hosting another women’s conference in 2016. Perhaps a group from FSBCS will go! Enjoy this teaser video and click the link to find a ton of sermons/talks unique to women, their callings, their challenges and their joys.

7Jul

GLOBAL LITTLE MINDS.

I’m amazed at the global perspective that living in NYC for 5 years gave my little 7 year old, Jack. So many of his friends from school were from different countries or visited family in other countries during breaks. We often had people from other countries eating holiday meals at our apartment. Jack has maps of the world and different countries all over the walls in his bedroom. The other night we decided we’d begin praying for a different country every night, finding it on his map. Tonight was our first night and he chose Cyprus because a little girl from his class in NYC, Anna, was moving to Cyprus for four years. So I googled a quick prayer search for Cyprus and this was the first video that Jack and I watched. It was truly a priceless moment with my little man tonight that left me in tears.

I’m so grateful that at 7 years old, Jack sees the world. It is my hope and prayer for Jack, that he’ll go anywhere, at anytime, to do anything for Jesus. Is that your prayer for your children? Begin praying it now and watch God change your heart. Another pray you can pray for your children is “God save them, send them where you want them to go, and spend them out for your glory.” If you pray it for 20 years, then when your 20 year old daughter comes home and tells you she’s moving to Afghanistan to love the people there and share Jesus with them, your heart will be prepared to send her.

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