Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Church Growth

For a month we've been talking about missions.  We've been asking for your support for George and the Flowers family .  People like you at 10, 15 or 25 dollars at a time have the power to keep them in the field and become their coworkers in truth without even leaving home (3 John).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In His Own Words: A Missionary Vlog

The inspiration for this month started with some friends who had come over to visit us while we were still abroad.  They told me a tale of another young missionary, (we'll call him George for safety sake) in a nearby part of Asia.  The story went that although he was working hard, preaching the gospel steadily, although people were listening and responding, the money just wasn't there for him to come back for a second year.  At the time it was looking like he would have to go home. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hell is for Real

LD converter gas flame 4
People are going to Hell. Literally.  Look around.  That guy who sits down the table from you at lunch, the lady behind you in the line at Walmart, that cute family who visited at your church last week, your Aunt Susie, they could all be headed for Hell.

Do I have your attention? 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Living By Faith

Harvest Festival Flowers at Shrewsbury United Reformed Church - - 1478601
The word promises, "that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).  When life sends trials and tribulations our way, many of us forget this powerful promise and grow bitter toward God.  All the Flowers are holding tight to this promise and have seen the truth of it played out with power over the last year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Joyful Slave

"If you want to be a slave of Christ,  you have to BE a slave of Christ."  One of our elders used this seemingly repetitive phrase in a recent lesson.  I knew what he meant.  It's one thing to say we are his slaves, another to live like it.  A slave owns nothing.  Not her time, not her possessions, not her family.  Even her actions are proscribed by her master. A slave does her master's will, period.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Contact, Contact, Contact

I was all set to write another post: "7 things your missionary wishes you would do."  And then I realized there were two problems.  First, when I started doing some research among the missionaries I knew, there weren't 7 things; there was 1 thing with variations.  The second was I'm not sure you actually have a missionary of your own.

Do you have a missionary? 

Friday, August 15, 2014

To Die is Gain

"Are you still going to Nigeria?" I asked incredulously.  It was a few weeks after the schoolgirls had been kidnapped by Boko Haram, and tensions between the United States and the African country, not to mention between Muslims and Christians, were mounting.  I was sure my father-in-law's yearly missionary trip to the Jos School of Biblical Studies in the central part of Nigeria would be canceled or at least postponed.  When he replied that the trip was still scheduled as planned I was surprised.  Didn't they how dangerous it would be?  He didn't seem worried, so I let it drop.  We continued to pray for him, but his easy manner gave me a sense of security.  In the middle of his trip, that security was shattered.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Her Own Words: A Missionary's Story

As you read through this you'll notice that we have some words replaced with asterisks.  That's because as we said before, this missionary family is in a country where they and our brothers and sisters in Christ could get in serious trouble if it was discovered they are leading worship, evangelizing, baptizing and joining in communion.  So please forgive us for eliminating these words.  Also we've used pseudonyms for the missionaries themselves in order that no one in their host country can find this plea via google.  If you're curious about their story and would like more information including their names, sponsoring churches and the country where they are working please feel free to send us an email and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Monday, August 11, 2014

7 Things NOT to Say to a Missionary

7 things you should not say to your missionaryOver the years I have had the pleasure of knowing lots and lots of people, young and old, single and married, male and female who are or have been missionaries.  When their hair was down and they were talking shop, they talked about you, the folks at home.  Sometimes they talked so gratefully about the cards you sent, the love you showed, the hospitality and kindness you showered them with while they were in America.  But other times they talked to me frankly about things that people say, things that were often meant in the kindest spirit but that nonetheless frustrated or hurt them.  So on their behalf, I'd like to share these statements with you so you have a chance to encourage them better.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thinking About Social Media

Social Media might be the ultimate WW.  If this is your first Whatsoever Wednesday post, I'll let you know this is the place where Melissa and I talk about the stuff that goes INTO our heads: what we read, listen to, watch and think about.  It's our deliberate attempt to move from carelessly allowing the world to dictate our thoughts to carefully choosing to focus on true, noble, just, pure and lovely things.  And that brings us to one of the most common things pouring into our minds, social media.  The phone beeps and we're off into the world of tweets, status updates and otherwordly Instagram photos. 

Off and on for the next couple of months I'll be using my Wednesdays to explore the ways that we can apply Biblical principles to our own use of social media.  Don't expect a lot of social media bashing.  Like any other tool, it turns in our hand from hurtful to helpful in an instant.  Our connections, friends, and circles turn out to be powerful leverage to be used for the Lord if we are willing. All the things we are doing in our "real" life - bringing glory to God, bringing encouragement to our brothers and sisters, and bringing people to God - are things we can do through social media use. 

For example, we can use social media to illustrate the warm, supportive and real relationship we have in our church.  People long to be connected.  That's why in part they are surfing the net looking at half-stranger's statuses anyway.  We live in a lonely and disconnected society.  When our churches are obviously family - people who are meeting for fun, worship, mutual encouragement, we can say so.  Don't let friends from work (or the PTA) wonder what you're doing on the weekends.  Let them see your good times with your buddies from church!

Posting a status on Facebook or Twitter is very impersonal.  That's why people feel so free to post things that would otherwise be considered highly impolite (political opinions etc).  However, taking the good with the bad, we are also able to share  Christian pictures, sayings, Bible verses, and a regular invitation to worship or other church activities without necessarily alienating others.   

With Maidservants Of Christ Melissa and I are trying to use any skill we have in Bible study or writing and any influence on the internet that we can leverage to make it possible for more people to hear the word of God. Usually that is a ministry limited to the internet but this month we're trying to turn our connection with you and the people you know into an opportunity for George and the Flowers family.  We want to reach out and touch your hearts with their story so you can help touch the lives of people on the other side of the planet with the good news about Jesus. 

It's what we hope you'll do.  Of course we hope you'll give to help these missionaries.  But we also hope you'll help us get the word out about them through sharing posts that you like on your Facebook page, tweeting them, pinning them or mentioning them on Google+.  That's just one of the many ways you can take the chance to use your influence in the Savior's service.  Reach out and let people know  that your church is warm, your faith is real, and your God is awesome!


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lord of the Harvest

Money and prayer- two things so "obvious" about missions as to be clich├ęd.  You've heard a lesson or two where a visiting missionary is seeking money for their own needs and sometimes for the needs of a school, orphanage, or poverty stricken area.  You've heard or prayed this sentence before too, right?  "Lord please help all those serving in foreign fields."  But do you know that Jesus' direct instruction to his disciples was not to pray FOR missionaries and evangelists (I know that those prayers are greatly appreciated) but to pray for MORE missionaries and evangelists?