The Wealth of God’s Word for Witnessing!

Yesterday, I posted an article on the Five Principles of Personal Evangelism found in Acts 8:26-40. I hope you find it helpful in your ministry of the Word. Let’s not forget what Jesus said concerning our dependence upon the Spirit’s power in witnessing:

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth” (Acts 1:8, AMPLIFIED BIBLE).

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Q & A on the BLM Annual Dinner

After today (Feb. 29th), we will leap into a campaign month for the Barnabas Leadership ministries’ work. The ministry exists to encourage and equip under-resourced and under-trained servant leaders to spread God’s Word in their spheres of influence. The Barnabas ministry board members and I would appreciate your prayers for a successful month of raising support. Our three-fold campaign goal is to increase awareness for our ministry, get more prayer partners, and raise more friends and finances for the work we do.

One of the upcoming promotion events for Barnabas Leadership Ministries (BLM) is an annual dinner planned for March 15, 6:30~8:00p.m. It will be held at Heritage Baptist Church (HBC) located on 14317 N. Council Rd., Oklahoma City, OK 73142. If you haven’t already RSVP’d for this special event, we encourage you to do so soon. Below are some Questions and Answers as far as the BLM Annual Dinner is concerned:

1.       What is the significance of the annual dinner?

This once-a-year event enables us to meet with our present and prospective team members. The meeting makes it possible to share our mission and to make known the resources we need to accomplish it. As a result, those the Lord touches to partner with us in His work through BLM, find ways to join with us on the exciting journey.

2.       How many annual dinners have you had for BLM and what has been the response of the participants?

Though the ministry was incorporated in the State of Oklahoma on March 6, 2008, it wasn’t until the beginning of 2010 that we had the first annual dinner. This year will be our third annual dinner. We are thankful for what God has done previously. We are thankful for the responsiveness of each of these guests. We are also thankful to you for considering our ministry. Come join us in carrying out God’s purpose through the Barnabas Leadership Ministries by giving one-time gifts, regular gifts, and praying regularly for our ministry. We are eternally grateful for the support we receive from our friends and well-wishers.

3.       What things has BLM accomplished as a result of the dinners?

In 2010 and 2011 the ministry assisted its leadership to pursue higher education in order to be better equipped to encourage and equip others in the Lord’s service. We also purchased Bibles for an unreached people group in the Congo, provided other ministry materials for pastors and lay leaders, and facilitated leadership seminars in Kenya and the Congo. The seminar in the Congo was particularly moving in that it brought together 92 pastoral leaders from two warring tribes for the first time in 14 years after the civil war there. Because of our ministry, the leaders sat side by side, forgave each other, and promised to continue working together in the Lord’s vineyard. PTL!

4.       What’s the theme of this year’s dinner?

We are adopting the theme, “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great Things for God” (formulated and put to practice by William Carey, the Father of Modern Missions) for this year’s dinner. God has truly blessed us and has given us the vision to expect great things from Him, so by His grace we will attempt great things for His Kingdom.

Thank you for reading this Q & A. If you have any questions you would like the BLM leadership to answer or would like to support our ministry, please leave a comment below.

How do we make disciples like Jesus today?

Below is an outline I have used recently in seeking to challenge others about making disciples as Jesus did.  Hopefully this will be helpful to you in your disciple-making ministry. If so, please leave a comment. 

As an intro to the outline, let me mention that discipleship in the church today has tended to “narrow it’s focus to the spiritual dimension.” This thought is from a book that Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas, Texas wrote with his Son William in 1995. In this book titled, As Iron Sharpens Iron: Building Character in a Mentoring Relationship, an ideal form of discipleship is described:

It should touch every area of our lives—our personal life and lifestyles, our work, our relationships. But discipleship always looks at these areas by asking the question, how do they relate to Christ? [In other words] How does following Christ affect my personal life, work, my relationships, and so on? (1995, pp.182-183)

 

Outline:

 MAKE DISCIPLES LIKE JESUS:

Lessons for Everyone from the Greatest Disciple-Making Leader of all time!

“A disciple is one who loyally follows Jesus by learning, incorporating, and practicing His teachings, actions, and character traits in a passionate effort to daily live as He lived in this world.” [1]

Intro:

The Lord’s last command should be our first concern. [Taken from Evangelism Explosion III Int’l]

Key Passage:  Matthew 28:18-20:  18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

THE THREE Ps OF THE GREAT COMMISSION

1.    V. 18. THE POWER FOR THE GREAT COMMISSION

“All authority [power] in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Therefore, we go in the power of Jesus that He has over nations, our lives, and our circumstances)

 2.    V. 19-20a, THE PROCESS OF THE GREAT COMMISSION

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

The discipling process comprises the three steps of going, baptizing, and teaching.  (As a result, we don’t view discipleship as a program but instead we see it as a relational process in which we reproduce ourselves in others. Take a look at the acronym of a D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E. below! )

3.     V. 20b, THE PROMISE OF THE GREAT COMMISSION

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (For this reason, we are not alone in the work of world evangelization and discipleship)

Discussion Questions:

  1. How should we make disciples under the authority of Jesus? (Think of His authority/power over the nations, the church, and our lives as you answer this question)
  2.  How does discipleship touch one’s head, heart, hands, and feet? (Consider the three participles of the discipleship process in answering this question)
  3. How does Jesus’ promise, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” encourage us when we face hardships or difficulties in our disciple-making ministry? (Think of those who don’t have the freedom of religion or assembly)

 ————————————————-

In March 2010, I came up with an acronym for a D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E.  This contains the characteristics of the of kind of person we want to reproduce in others. A disciple is someone who:

 Discerns and does God’s will (Rom.12:1-2; Ephesians 5:15-20)

  Identifies with potential disciples (Examples of the Incarnation & Paul: John 1:1, 14; 1 Cor. 9:22)

 Senses the move of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25; John 16:13)

 Confesses sin (1 John 1:9; James 5:16b)

 Informs others of the work done (Mark 5:18-19; Malachi 3:16; Ephesians 5:19)

 Perseveres in the Lord’s work (James 1:2, 1Corinthians 15:57-58)

 Looks to Jesus for strength, guidance, and example (Heb.12:1ff; 1 Peter 2:21)

 Enables others to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:2)


[1]Donald E. Bader, Developing a plan to disciple international students [2008 Doctoral dissertation]. Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UM No. 3337438).

Washington, DC Mission Trip Report

  

“…thanks be to God!  

He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:57, NIV

 

Praying friends and family:

The Washington, DC Mission team and I arrived safely on Sunday night! Some very dear friends gave us a surprise welcome at the airport when we got there at 9:30p.m. 

I want to take this opportunity to THANK YOU for taking the time to pray for us while we were in DC for one week. Below are the prayer requests you lifted before God’s throne of grace and the ANSWERS we received as a result. There is also a link for some pictures of the mission trip for your enjoyment. Hope you catch a glimpse of what we did as you look at the photos. We are filled with amazement at the way God’s Hand worked in and through us: 

1.   Pray for the mission team by name: Kirk, Karen, Rayleigh, Rachel, Amy, Josh, Tara, Dianna, David, and me (Sam). Ask that the Lord will direct our steps by His Word, and that no iniquity will have dominion over us (Psalm 119:133).

The Lord directed our steps throughout the whole week in visible and invisible ways. In fact, He added two more members (Ben and “little Sam”) to our team. It was so amazing how He directed us to the individuals He wanted us to talk to during the course of our one-week stay and outreach in Washington, DC. As we walked and prayed in certain sections of the city, He directed us on what to pray for. Ben and I walked by the CBN offices and prayed for this ministry and a host of other similar ministries that they would spread the Gospel around the globe. We also interceded for the nations that don’t have freedom of assembly to worship God due to lack of righteousness, justice, and liberty in their countries.

 How we thank God for the victory that He gave us as a team and as individuals! On Tuesday (August 10), He encouraged me not be weary in doing good, for in due season I’ll reap a harvest if I don’t lose heart (Galatians 6:9).

2.      Pray for safe travel and divine appointments. Rachel and I will be flying in the morning [August 9, 2010], but the rest of the team is already there.

PTL! He granted us safety in our travel to DC, in DC, and from DC back to Oklahoma City. We are so thankful for your prayers. The Psalmist spoke of the Lord’s watch care over us:

 The LORD is your keeper;
       The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
 The sun shall not strike you by day,
         Nor the moon by night.          
  The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
         He shall preserve your soul.
 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
         From this time forth, and even forevermore.

(Psalm 121:5-8, NKJV)

3.    Pray for our team to have unity and display the love of Christ as we serve together from Aug. 9-15. 

Unity was evident in our midst and we can only attribute this to the mighty Hand of the Lord. We stayed at a mission house in a relatively safe neighborhood and we split the cost of groceries, etc. We hope and pray that those we met saw a display of the Love of Jesus. Several people expressed appreciation for the work we did. I was reminded of Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” At the end of the day, we want Jesus to receive all the glory. Amen! 

4.         Pray for opportunities to share Christ as we serve people with acts of kindness: American University students as they move into their dorms and local families through a back to school project by distributing school supplies. 

As new students arrived at the American University, our team was there along with other volunteers to welcome them and give them a hand in carrying their belongings to their assigned rooms. This provided some opportunities to invite them to consider attending Restoration Church and other churches in the vicinity. One of the ladies on our team prayed with a girl they had helped move to her room.

Additionally, we pointed the new students to some Christian groups on campus such as “Chi Alpha.” We co-labored with this group that encourages students to be smart, passionate, focused, and engaged as far as their relationship with Jesus is concerned.

As far as distributing back-to-school supplies, we did not do so. Instead, we worked toward its accomplishment. Our team knocked on nearly 500 doors in some neighborhoods and we asked for back-to-school supplies. Praise the Lord for a 10% success rate.  Around 11a.m. on Saturday, Pastor Joey of Restoration Church and two others drove by the various homes and collected 55 bags of donated back-to-school supplies. The supplies included some check donations as well. These will be forwarded to a mission agency that will distribute them to the inner city kids in actual school back-packs. 

5.         Pray for the Spirit to give us boldness and the words to share as we interact with homeless people and engage other people in spiritual conversations on the street. 

We engaged a number of homeless people on the street in talking about spiritual things. Please pray for three guys we conversed with, namely: 1) Raj from New Delhi India who has been on the streets for 25 years. He believes religions are man’s inventions for the purpose of controlling man. He did not allow us to pray for him, but when we asked him if he was afraid to die, he said, “yes.” He definitely needs to know the love of God in a personal way; 2) George, a former Mechanical Engineer, has been homeless for 2 years and does not see a congruence between what Christians profess and their daily practice; 3)  David has not had a place to call home for quite some time. He initially told us that he was a Christian but after talking with him we found out that he was not. David claimed to “know everything” but when Pastor Nathan asked him if he had figured out how to get off the streets, where he did not like to be, he responded with an emphatic, “NO.” 

6.         Pray for us to be an encouragement to this new church and its leaders, especially Joey and Nathan and their families

On Thursday evening, Pastors Nathan and Joey had planned and secured a permit for us to have a “Block Party.” However it did not materialize due to “bad” weather. It had rained that morning and I had started complaining in my spirit and the Lord reminded me how very hot it had been the previous three days. I believe the Lord gave us a break from the scorching summer temperatures and protected us from a possible tornado that was likely to occur in the area at the time of the party. The block party did not take off because the Lord wanted us to fellowship with the pastors and their families (that is what I thought as soon as the party was cancelled, and this was confirmed by what transpired that evening!). As soon as the party was cancelled, we agreed to converge at the Mission House later for some hot dogs and fellowship time. 

As we fellowshipped around the table, I sensed divine direction, unity, commitment, and dedication on the part of  the pastors and their families in relation to the church planting work the Lord has called them to do in the Northwestern part of Washington, DC. They also expressed that they were encouraged as a result of our being there. We gave out several fliers inviting people to their church and they immediately saw an increase on the number of visitors to their church website.  Likewise we hope they will see a multiplication in their Sunday attendance.

7.           Pray for God to save souls and grow this church [Restoration Church] for His glory in the city.

As far as I know, no one prayed to receive Christ as Lord and Savior but the good news is that the seeds of God’s truth were planted and we hope and pray they will grow to bear lots of fruit for God’s glory. I am encouraged by the fact that witnessing involves both our work and God’s work. Our part is to lift Jesus up and He will draw all men unto Himself. The late Bill Bright, I understand, defined witnessing as follows: “Sharing the Good News in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results with God.” Please continue to pray that the Gospel may saturate this capital city of the United States culminating in a global impact.

In closing, let me thank you again for going with us on this mission trip in prayer. Please enjoy some pictures of the trip by clicking on either of links below that Kirk, our team leader, shared with us:    

a. View Album 

b. Play slideshow

May God bless and keep you. Let’s continue to remain in the mood of prayer. The apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

In His exciting steps and service,

🙂 Sam

P.S. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9, NIV

 

What does John 1:29 teach us about Jesus as the Lamb of God?

Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV).

The verse above is John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus. It reveals three essential features about Jesus, THE LAMB OF GOD: – 1) The SOURCE of the Lamb (He is from God, cf. John 3:16); 2) The SIGNIFICANCE of the Lamb (He “takes away sin”); and 3) The SCOPE of the Lamb’s ministry (Jesus atoned for “the sin of the world”). [Bruce Milne presents a full discussion of the three points in The Message of John, a 1993 book published by Inter-Varsity Press, p. 53].

The battle belongs to the Lord!

Brother Ken Wade, my friend and a very down-to-earth missionary in Kenya, shared the following quote and Scripture verse on facebook today:

 “Do not look at the difficulty of your condition, but instead, when the storm rages against you, look up to him who can give you patience and can lift your head over it all and cause you to grow.” Isaac Pennington (1617-1680) Hebrews 12:1-2.

I am so thankful for Ken’s sharing. It reminds me what happened on Tuesday afternoon this week: I faced a very difficult situation that could potentially send me back to Kenya within 30 days, but the Lord had prepared me for it. Early in the morning, He had given me a song (‘He touched me…’) and by mid-morning, He brought a verse (1 John 5:14-15) to mind while I was answering a question for one of the guys doing Bible study in jail. Later on, two of the pastors at church provided some excellent advice, and another brother wrote a letter of endorsement. Now, I have submitted hopefully all the documents that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) needed from me. It has seemed like an endless and uphill battle as the government has asked for evidence for this and that, but I am grateful that the Lord is fighting for me (2 Chronicles 32:1-8, esp. verses 7 and 8). I must fix my eyes on Jesus who is the Pioneer and Perfector of my faith. Praise His holy name!

What is sin and how should we deal with it?

Different theologians provide diverse definitions of what sin is, of course according to their understanding or theological persuasion. On Sunday, as my pastor (Marty Brown) was preaching, the way he defined sin got my attention. Quoting from John Piper’s book, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards…, Pastor Marty shared this definition: “Sin is the suicidal exchange of the glory of God for the broken cisterns of created things.” John Piper elaborates on this definition as follows:

 “Paul [the apostle] said, ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:23). Sinning is a ‘falling short’ of the glory of God. But the Greek word for ‘falling short’ (husterountai) means ‘lack.’ The idea is not that you shot an arrow at God’s glory and the arrow fell short, but that you could have had it as a treasure, but you don’t. You have chosen something else instead. This is confirmed in Romans 1:23 where people ‘exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image.’ That is the deepest problem with sin: it is suicidal exchange of infinite value and beauty for some fleeting, inferior substitutes” (p. 36).

The above definition of sin reminds me of Jeremiah 2:12-13, where God found the waywardness of the children of Israel quite shocking. “Stand in shock, heavens, at what you see! Throw up your hands in disbelief—this can’t be!

         God’s Decree [declares the LORD].

My people have committed a compound sin [two evils]:
   they’ve walked out on me, the fountain
of fresh flowing waters, and then dug cisterns—
   cisterns that leak, cisterns that are no better than sieves.
” (Jer. 2:12-13, THE MESSAGE)

 In the same way the Israelites forsook God their source of life-giving water and the very source of their life, there are some in the church today, who claim to be born-again, and yet go after the things of this world. Consequently, their hearts are hardened and their eyes are blinded (cf. John 12:40; 2 Corinthians 4:4; and 1 John 2:11). They, therefore, don’t even realize how meaningless their lifestyle has become and how it will end in utter emptiness. May God help us learn from the wise King Solomon who in his search for happiness (in the book of Ecclesiastes) tried everything and found it meaningless. But it is uplifting to know that Solomon did not continue to live in defeat, discouragement, and discontent, he turned to the Lord. He gives this wise exhortation: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:      

      Fear God and keep His commandments,
      For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment,
      Including every secret thing,
      Whether good or evi
l”(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

 In addition to encouraging each other to satisfy our inner longings in the Lord, we should also pray that our brothers and sisters who are walking away from the Lord would return to the Lord so they may be revived. Let us join the hymn writer by singing and praying this verse and chorus:

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.

 Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.
(Retrieved from http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/r/e/reviveus.htm)

 The necessity for revival in our day is much-needed in order to deal with sin. Spiritually speaking, there’s darkness all around us but we must not walk in it. Instead we should walk in the light (see 1 John 1:5-7). Revival will not occur without each of us having a hard look at sin. We must understand that sin is not something to play with, but something we need to shun by all means. Sin is missing the mark and results in death (Romans 6:23). It is transgressing against a known law of God in our thoughts, speech, and deeds.

 We have some good news though: Confession of sin leads to eternal life and a God-glorifying life in this world. In order for us to glorify God in our daily lives, we must confess our sins for He is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Others will also glorify God as we let our lives so shine before them (see Matthew 5:16 and Ephesians 2:10).

Three Ways to Respond to Adversity or Suffering

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the apostle Paul encourages the church in Thessalonica to do three things in view of the Lord’s coming and the difficulties they were facing. He builds them up with these statements: 1. Rejoice Always, 2. Pray without Ceasing, and 3. In Everything Give Thanks. 

It’s intriguing that while he is in prison experiencing lots of hardships, the apostle Paul tells the Philippian Church to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4). This teaches us that regardless of difficult circumstances, a Christian always has grounds for rejoicing (see 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 3). 

Praying, on the other hand, should be something that we do at all times without stopping, i.e. we must learn to maintain a prayerful attitude in all situations. Even while we are at a traffic light, we can whisper a prayer to the Lord–of course with our eyes open 🙂

The third exhortation is especially not an easy one to do. Giving thanks to God in all circumstances is no cup of tea. But it is what the Word of God teaches us to do. It is, therefore, for our good that we respond with gratitude to all that happens to us whether good or bad. May these words of the apostle Paul to the Roman Church cheer us: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).

As we face difficult moments, may we always be aware of the fact that we are not alone–God is with us. The apostle Paul, writing from personal experience in relation to suffering, had this to say to the Corinthian Church:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation

(2 Corinthians 1:2-7).

The Puritans went through many storms of life, but they always encouraged themselves in the Lord and sought His help which they knew was only a prayer away. Below is one of their prayers taken from p. 166 of the book, THE VALLEY OF VISION: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions:

Streams upon streams of love overflow my path...
Thanks be to Thee for my high and holy calling.
I bless Thee for ministering angels,
for the comfort of Thy Word,
for the ordinance of the church,
for the teaching of Thy Spirit,
for the holy sacraments,
for the communion of saints,
for Christian fellowship,
for the recorded annals of holy lives,
for examples sweet to allure,
for beacons sad to deter.
 
Thy will is in all Thy provisions
to enable me to grow in grace.
and to be meet for Thy eternal presence.
My heaven-born faith gives promise to eternal sight,
my new birth a pledge of never-ending life.
I draw near to Thee, knowing Thou wilt draw near to me.
I ask of Thee, believing Thou hast already given.
I entrust myself to Thee, for Thou has redeemed me.
I bless and adore Thee, the eternal God,
for the comfort of these thoughts,
the joy of these hopes.

What’s the relationship between missions and worship?

Personally, I hadn’t given much thought about the relationship between worship and missions until last Thursday when my thinking was challenged. I seemed to have always assumed that missions superceded worship.  I was wrong. John Piper’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Life,” contains a revolutionary statement as far as the two subjects are concerned. He notes:

Missions exists because worship doesn’t. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and the goal of missions.” p. 162.

“Free-Rider Problem”

I came across an interesting concept in my research today: “All organizations are plagued by the free-rider problem, but the problem is especially acute for churches.” This, according to Roger Finke, is a situation whereby one “draws upon collective benefits but withholds individual contributions.”

My suggestion for sorting out the “free-rider problem” in the church is this: Christians must become responsible members of the Body of Christ. However, the challenge is how to practice this in the church today. You may share your thoughts based on a Scripture verse (s). Thank you.

 Note: To read the actual article, cited in this post, refer to: The Quiet Transformation: Changes in Size and Leadership of Southern Baptist Churches. Author: Roger Finke. Source: Review of Religious Research, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Sep., 1994), pp. 3-22