Thursday, June 11, 2015

Branching Out (June 2015 Newsletter)

Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?  It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth;  but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”– Matthew 4:30-32

This morning I say down with a young Muslim man to study the story of Jesus birth, touching on the prophecies and stories of the Promised King we had read before. I meet with this young man three mornings a week, helping him learn English and studying the Bible. I pray with him each time, asking God to bless him and his family, to help him learn English and to help him come close to God.

Serving those who come from other cultures and other religions is a major part of my everyday life, and proclaiming the gospel to all of creation is an everyday calling and ambition. When God called me to Hamtramck five years ago I did not feel a specific burden to Muslims or Hindus, Arabs or Asians. I simply knew where God wanted me to go. Only now can I look back and see the blessing and privilege God has given me. Jesus has trained me here: to care for the lost, to serve the poor, to lay down my rights, my culture, my language, in order to become all things to all men and to be a light to all nations. I am still being trained every day.

As I returned home after the study, I found a list of emails from disciple-makers and church planters around the nation waiting for responses. Some wanted collaboration on projects. Some wanted to request training or partner in events. Most wanted me to share best practices and resources. Some of these church planters I had trained over the internet, some of them I had worked with, and some were trainers that I looked up to. I spent all afternoon taking phone calls, messaging over Facebook, replying on message boards and collaborating on online documents. I had to stop and thank the Lord for the favor he had poured out on my life. I am so grateful for a community of laborers who encourage each other and share a common vision and goal in the Great Commission. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of ministry and labors in many different states and even different nations as God expands His Kingdom all over the globe.

Jesus told multiple parables about the mustard seed. The most famous one compares the small seed to an amount of faith, but in Matthew 4 Jesus compares the Kingdom itself to a mustard seed. The Kingdom of God which resides within and among us (Luke 17:21) is like this small seed, which expands and multiplies exponentially until it is a tree, growing stronger and thicker, spreading its branches, and providing shade and support for birds. In the same way that the mustard seed begins in an almost microscopic way, so the Kingdom is not always visible or even noticeable. Often God chooses the small, the weak, the unimpressive. As God expands His rule and reign and His presence and glory in our lives we become larger and stronger: big enough to support others. We cover more ground and reach into new places.

As God expands His work in my life, I am most excited about what He is doing in the lives and ministries of the men and women I’ve trained, many in different states who I contact over video conference. I am grateful for all that God has done in Hamtramck and look forward to seeing Him continue to move as the branches of the Kingdom in my life spread into new places and new lives. The best is yet to come!

Read the rest of the June 2015 Newsletter
Read previous Newsletters

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Faithful with Little (May 2015 Newsletter)

A generational map showing who I'm discipling
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ – Matthew 25:21

This month I sat down with a young Bangladeshi man named K____ who wants to learn English. He speaks English fairly well, especially for someone who moved from Bangladesh only a few months ago. He wants to be able to get his GED and go on to study engineering in college, but right now, he is the sole provider for his mother and brother. He works long night shifts at a factory making plastic parts for cars and then studies English with me in the morning after his shift is over.
I explained to him that I want to teach him English so that he can have a better life here and provide for his family, but that I also wanted to help him learn how to be close to God. I told him my testimony, explaining that because God had been so good to me, I wanted to help others know His goodness. I told him that I would be using stories from the Bible to teach him English and he agreed. I gave him the Jesus Film, which he watched that week.
I took some time to pray for K____ the first day that I met him, and I as I prayed I was reminded of another Bangladeshi student I knew about four years ago. This student was much older, in his 70’s, but he was named K____ too (which is not a common name for Bangladeshis).
The first K____ I met was a sweet old man who had a great education and read voraciously. When I gave him the Bible in his own language he began reading it every day. He told me that he loved Jesus and that he knew that Jesus was “the heart of God.” I felt so sure that K____ would become a believer, and was encouraged that he was growing in faith. There were language barriers, I was new in ministry to Muslims, and I wasn’t always sure that we understood each other. But I knew that God was working in K____’s life. In the midst of studying with K____, he became very sick. I felt convinced that God would heal him, but had hardly seen anyone healed through my prayers. I prayed and prayed, but K____ passed away. Losing him was difficult. His death put me on a passionate pursuit for the power of God. Though K____ is gone, God heard my cry and led me into the miraculous in a way I never would have imagined. I have seen many people who would have otherwise died, healed by the power of God.
As I think back to the first K____ I met and who and where I was then and the K____ that I meet with now, I am struck by the grace and love of God. I strove to be faithful to God and to the people he had given me. In His grace and patience God taught me, molded me, and gave me greater fruit and impact in ministry.
Today I look at my ministry, and I am immensely blessed by what God has done. God’s work has grown in my life, and I look forward to greater and greater things as I continue to work and strive to be faithful with all He gives me. I know that those who are faithful with little will be set over much, and that God will multiply His kingdom as I am faithful to serve Him in every opportunity He gives me. The best is yet to come!

Read the rest of the May 2015 Newsletter
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Monday, April 20, 2015

A Small Study on the Conscience

Cross-cultural ministry, circumstances, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit have led me to consider and reconsider what the Bible teaches about the conscience. There is clearly a large study to be done here, but I wanted to post some brief conclusions along with some verses that I will be adding to my daily prayer list.

The Bible says that there are those with strong consciences, who correctly discern right from wrong and are free from guilt and shame. There are also those with weak consciences who feel conviction and guilt over things that are not wrong (such as eating the wrong foods). (1 Cor 8)

The Bible also speaks of those with seared and defiled consciences who can no longer feel conviction (1 Tim 4:2, Titus 1:15).

We must not violate our conscience. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

The blood of Christ cleanses us and our conscience (Heb 9:14, 10:22).

We cultivate good, strong consciences by having a strong faith in the sacrifice Christ for a right relationship with God (no guilt, no shame) and by seeking the Word of God and the community of faith to keep us from blind spots and areas where our conscience has been hardened by experience.

Verses for my prayer list:

Acts 23:1
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

Father I want to live in a good conscience before you every single day. I never want to violate my conscience. Teach me wisdom and give me strength to live according to every inner conviction. Help me to only make decisions when I know my conscience is clear on the subject.

Acts 24:16
This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

2 Corinthians 1:12
For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

1 Timothy 1:5
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

Hebrews 9:14
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Father, I want my conscience to be cleansed. Lord there are many things that I remember that still bother my conscience, and there are many things that I have questions about. I have confessed all known sin to you, and I now I ask that you would cleanse my conscience from every dead work, that all guilt and shame would be gone and that I would walk before you in complete confidence in my service to You, in Jesus name.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Skill-Power, Proverbs, and Freedom

While researching addiction, I came across this excellent Ted Talk. The principles taught in this talk are highly practical and reminded me of numerous Scriptures. As I pursue freedom for others and myself, I continually discover the power of practical obedience. Principles matter. Truth sets us free. Jesus is the answer. But we must respond to that truth. We must obey it. We have a responsibility to apply wisdom and truth to our lives: to access the power of the Holy Spirit, and to do whatever it takes to be free. Below are the results of my Bible Study inspired by this Ted Talk.

#1 Willpower
Repentance, "Do You Want to be Free?"
Matthew 15:1-20, James 4:1-10

#2 Skillpower
What does the Bible say about to deal with your specific struggle?
Hosea 4:6, Psalm 119, 2 Timothy 3:16, Matthew 22:29

Control the sources that control us:
Mark 3:22-27

#3 Social Pressure
1 Corinthians 15:33, Ecclesiastes 4:12, Proverbs 12:26, Proverbs 13:20

#4 Social Ability
James 5:16, Proverbs 27:17, Proverbs 9:9

#5 Rewards
(Lots of Scripture on the rewards of holiness, gotta narrow this one down and choose the most practical)

#6 Space
2 Timothy 2:22, Matthew 6:13, Romans 13:14

Plan to deal with setbacks:
Proverbs 24:16, Micah 7:8-9, 1 John 1:7-9

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What Does the Bible Say About Money?

Life has been full of Bible reading projects for the last year or so, but I have been selfishly holding out on my readers. I'm going to try to do better.

About a week ago I was praying in the shower, and I felt the Lord impress me to ask my brother to do a Bible study with me over Google Hangout. He lives in Philadelphia, and I am here in Detroit. I use video conference often to do Bible studies and train believers to make disciples all over the nation. I felt that I should tell him to pick a topic and that I would study whatever he wanted: a book, a book of the Bible, a topic, whatever.

As we talked, he mentioned that he was trying to save money. He is a computer programmer for a hedge fund and is quite adept at both programming and investing. I mentioned that I was trying to save more money and raise more support as I need a significant increase in my income in order to have a family. It occurred to both of us that we should study money.

We both read the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes this week, highlighting all the verses we found that spoke about money. I used a green highlighter and used a cheap edition of the New Living Translation, which I love for the Old Testament and especially Proverbs. I have been reading proverbs every month along with my reading plan, so this study fit right in. You can see the evangelistic DVD Magdalena stuck in the pages. I used it as a straight edge so that my highlighting wasn't wavy. After I was finished I hopped on BibleGateway and copied and pasted all the verses I highlighted into a Google Doc which my brother, and I will discuss on Google Hangout (this post brought to you by Google . . . just kidding).

My goals for this study are to get quality time with my brother, learn about how to make more money, steward what God gives me better, and raise more support. I really want to honor God as He blesses me with enough income to get married and increase ministry. When I first entered full-time ministry I was super-spiritual about money. I don't regret that because I learned to trust the Lord, seek the Kingdom first, and live with absolute integrity when it came to finances. My first year in full-time ministry I made less than $6500. Since then the Lord has greatly blessed me, and I know that He will bless me more and more as I apply His Word, wisdom, and hard work.

You can learn more about my ministry, contact me, and donate at (there are also many free sermons and trainings)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Finding Faithful Men (April 2015 Newsletter)

As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word – John 17:18-20

The Father sent Jesus into this world on a mission of love and reconciliation. He brought and was the Good News of God’s mercy and righteousness. His self-sacrifice and resurrection brought us into new life and made us new creations in Him. Jesus not only paid for our sins to be removed, but brought us into His identity, giving us a new birth in Him. He prayed not only for His disciples, but for future generations of men and women who would believe. His vision went all the way to you and me, and His vision included the faithfulness of eleven flawed fisherman who were transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Lunch after a disciple-making training.

In the same way that the Father sent Jesus, Jesus has sent us (John 20:21). His example not only includes holiness and miracles, but also discipleship and investment in people. We are to sow the Word of God, the message of Christ, and the character and experience of Jesus into our relationships. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paul’s instruction to Timothy was to reinvest the kingdom seeds that Paul had sown into his life into others. Timothy was instructed to find and invest in faithful men.
Both John 17:18-20 and 2 Timothy 2:2 point to four generations of discipleship:
The Father>Jesus>His Disciples>Those who will believe
Paul>Timothy>Faithful Men>Others
Every day I ask God for faithful men and for four generations of disciples in my life and ministry. A large part of my ministry is searching for “people of peace” (Luke 10) and “Faithful men” who will receive the Good News and multiply thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold. I am excited at what God is doing around the nation to answer these prayers: Nathan in Indianapolis leading addicts to Christ and training and discipling men who are witnessing to the lost and beginning to train others, Steve in Nebraska who is witnessing to many people groups and seeing Muslims come to faith, B____ and others here in the Detroit area who are coming into faith and sharing the Good News with others. All of these men are proving their faithfulness and reinvesting what I have taught and sowed into their lives by the grace of God.
This multiplication of the Gospel and God’s Word is His work, which He has entrusted to me, just as Jesus entrusted the spread and multiplication of the Gospel to eleven flawed fisherman and a former persecutor of the church, Paul. We are all a testament to God’s mercy, love, and grace.
Please join me in prayer as I seek the Lord to send Laborers into the harvest (Luke 10:2), to multiply the work of those I am training, and to give me faithful men who will teach others and spread the Kingdom of God. I know the best is yet to come.
Read the rest of the April 2015 Newsletter.