God is at work all across the world. The stories are challenging and inspiring. Be sure to check out "Commission Stories" in the sidebard for updated video and photos from IMB missionaries throughout the world. Watch and see how God is moving.
Posts from February 2009
I have been in Richmond, Virginia all week meeting at the International Mission Board. It's been a long week with many updates on how God is moving throughout the world. It's not well known, but we heard how 30,000 people are coming to Christ daily in one nation and that the underground church movement is alive and well. In fact there are at least 6 underground church networks that are each larger than the SBC completely. Amazing.
We learned how many people groups do not have a written language, or their literacy rate is such that written Bibles aren't too helpful. So, how do these people communicate the Word? They share the Word orally as it's been done for centuries. The oral tradition is strong.
Storytelling is powerful and can change lives. Lastg week we experienced that first hand in our worship services as we shared "cardboard testimonies." We're working diligently to get the video edited and uploaded. So check back regularly.
I must say, there weren't many dry eyes in the house during these services. The power of a gracious, sovereign God was displayed. . .through stories. If you know Christ, you have a story of transformation too. I hope you're sharing it. It's a timeless tradition - the telling of the Story. Keep sharing it.
We will be finishing up our series on "No Perfect People Allowed" this Sunday morning. We anticipate God to truly move through this service. At the close of each message we are sharing "Cardboard Testimonies." Many churches have done this before and you can see clips on YouTube and even on this blog. This time, it's our stories. Stories of transformation.
I've been thinking about how God transforms us into His holy children. It's a process and it's pretty amazing.
When you think of biblical characters, the list is almost endless
- Abram transformed into Abraham, the father of multitudes
- Jacob transformed from a deceiver to Israel, the father of the 12 tribes
- Joseph transformed from a slave to the second most powerful person in all of Egypt
- Moses transformed from a murderer, then a shepherd, eventually to a redeemer and rescuer
- David transformed from a shepherd to the greatest King in Israel's history
- David once again transformed from an adulterer and murderer into the "man after God's own heart"
- Matthew transformed from a tax collector to a disciple of Christ
- Saul transformed from a killer of Christians to Paul, the greatest missionary in the first century
- Luke transformed from a Gentile doctor to a follower of Christ and author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts
The list goes on.
Throughout history there are many others. . .
- Billy Graham transformed from a Fuller Brush salesman to the greatest evangelist of the 20th century
- Chuck Colson transformed from a criminal to a ministry leader
- Manuel Noriega transformed from a dictator to a follower of Christ
- Willie Aames transformed from a partying teenage actor to believer and "Bibleman"
- Stephen Baldwin transformed from an actor with no need for God to a man who is now God's child
- Crissy Moran transformed from a pornographic model to a new creation in Christ
The list goes on. . .and hopefully your name can be placed there. If you are a believer, you've been transformed. If you're not a believer, go to www.thekristo.com and watch the presentation. If you have any questions, post a comment.
This is not an endorsement of Ellen or her show. . .but I'm telling you - this is funny.
I've been home with a virus since Sunday afternoon. It was a rough weekend. I even missed the Super Bowl. For those of you in church Sunday morning, you're probably wishing I would have skipped the morning services. I wanted to, but truly felt God wanted me to begin this series of messages titled "No Perfect People Allowed." We're looking at the life of Paul as an example of extravagent grace. Here's a man who was super religious and righteous in his own eyes. He even thought he was pleasing God. The thing was, he was doing the exact opposite of what God desired.
The story is incredible. Check out Acts 9. I'll upload last Sunday's sermon as soon as I get back in the office.
However, in these days stuck at home, recovering from this virus, I've been thinking much about this concept of grace and the 21st century church.
I shared back in January how this was a key year for our church. That being said, we knew the Enemy would attack. Now, I believe spiritual warfare is real. I'm not saying we are to live in fear that there's a demon behind every bush ready to jump out at you, but the battle in the heavenlies and the spiritual realm is very real. It's a battle for the heart and we all have a role to play in the story.
I try to figure out why attacks come when they do. A few weeks ago I asked for prayer requests from church members that felt they needed the pastors praying for them specifically. I received numerous requests that ranged from marital problems, cancer, children's issues, fear, and anger. We have been praying for you. This is why the battle has intensified.
Some don't like my "battle" analogies. Sorry. Just calling it what it is.
The latest attack has come against our volunteer leaders, pastors and truthfully, the entire body of believers here at First Baptist. I've heard the word "hypocritical" used. I honestly expected that. Words are powerful, and hurtful, and have come from well meaning sources, but with, what I would like to believe unintential hurt.
It boils down to the difficulty of grace. Grace is that unmerited favor that God shows us. That love we get, but don't deserve. The Bible is full of characters who have experienced this. In fact, every hero of the faith, except Jesus Christ, for he is the only perfect character in Scripture, experienced God's grace.
We all desire and want grace. Yet, for some reason, it's hard to show it to others at times. So, how can we get beyond this? We remember. We remember from where we came. We remember the grace shown to us by our Savior and when the opportunity comes, we express that to others.
Does this mean we create a world with no consequences? Absolutely not. While Scripture says under Christ we are without condemnation, it does not say we get to avoid consequences. Sin has consequence. Just read the Old Testament stories of David.
Here's where it leaves us. Church - stand firm. Pray like you've never prayed - for God's will, not mine, yours, a people group's, or popular opinion's will to be done. Make sure you are in a place where you can hear God. Believe me, discerning the voice of God is key. Unfortunately, most Christians are not there. If you need some insight into this process, I recommend the book "Walking with God" by John Eldredge.
Hypocritical church? Nah! Maybe misunderstood by some, but not hypocritical. You see, our goal is to hear God, study His Word and follow His lead. We'll be called things, much worse things, I believe. I thought I faced it all last summer, but apparently not.
We stand on a narrow place of righteousness (not on our own merit, but through the grace of God). As a friend once shared with me - "The narrow stance, on the Truth, gives us a broad influence."
So, stand firm. We are made stronger through difficulties.