Friday, July 20, 2012

Four Ministry Catalysts and an Update

I haven't written much blog material in the last two months. I promise this is not because I've been slacking in Bible study or in creativity for posts. Truthfully I've been asking the Lord about the fruitfulness of the blog, and I've been busy doing the work of the ministry. The last six months have seen a dramatic increase in fruitful ministry to Muslims and Hindus. I've seen God perform miracles and seen people respond to the gospel in dramatic ways. If you've been keeping up with my newsletters (especially the second page), you've read some of the awesome things that God is doing. This is transforming my life and ministry, setting me in new directions, and making more excited than ever about serving the Lord. More updates and surprises will be forthcoming as well as some project posts, so keep reading and keep in mind that I'm primarily a missionary doing the work of an evangelist on the streets and in churches that invite me to minister.

Four Ministry Catalysts

The men’s ESL program and cross cultural ministry has seen unprecedented success in the last six months as we've built meaningful relationships, weaved the gospel more effectively into the educational structure, and seen God do miracles in healing the sick, answering prayer, and softening hearts. We thank the Lord for His blessing and rejoice to see how He makes us more fruitful in His service every day. Upon reflecting on what the Lord has done and the changes He has worked in us, we came to see four major values and methods emerging from the burst of fruitful ministry.

One of the largest practical changes that has produced a lot of fruit has been telling stories from the Gospels. Before going out to do ministry, meeting with students, or spending time with unbelievers, we take an inventory of what we’ve read in the gospels lately and ask the Lord to show us which story we should tell, whether it’s about Jesus healing the sick, some part of His teaching, or a parable about the Kingdom. We then practice telling it to each other and ask the Lord to provide an opportunity for us to tell the story in conversation with the unsaved.

Another important practical method has been simply distributing Scripture. We give copies of the New Testament and the Gospel of Mark to everyone we can, trying to make sure that everyone we know has a copy of the New Testament in their own language. Then when we tell stories, we can tell them to pull out their New Testament and read along or we can do Bible studies with them. They also have it for private perusal and the Holy Spirit can draw them to God’s Word in their own home.

We’ve also seen boldness emerge as an important value. We’ve asked the Lord to enable us to share the good news boldly as we should (Eph 6:19) and not shy away from telling people the truth about the gospel. We’re transparent with our faith and bold to affirm that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, that He is the divine Son of God, and that we worship Him. We’ve seen our boldness open many doors and close very few. God has honored our boldness to pray for people by healing the sick and performing miracles. Truly the Good News is the power of God. Put the Good News on display, and He will put His power on display.

A focus on the Holy Spirit, prayer, and miracles has also characterized the last six months as we’ve spent time devoting ourselves to listening for direction for specific situations and people, asking the Lord to stretch out His hand, and praying for the sick and oppressed. Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Acts 10:38, Heb. 13:8). The same Spirit that filled and anointed Him rests on the church, His body, and we trust the Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us for ministry. It has been amazing to watch Him touch the lives of unbelievers with grace and love.

These ministry changing values and methods are available to every believer and we hope they will continue to be a catalyst for our ministry and yours!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Purchase of God (July 2012 Newsletter)

And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. Revelation 5:9

The cross was the moment of ultimate atonement for all sin and judgment, revealing Christ’s identity as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. “The life is in the blood,” (Lev. 17:11) and Christ’s life was poured out in blood. Every act of compassion and grace, every moment of righteousness, every defeat of the devil, every healing and miracle, every moment of love that was the life of Jesus Christ was poured out in payment for the world. This life and blood bought us back from the power of darkness and sin and brought us into the light and life of Christ. It was an inordinate price that revealed the Father’s love and the value of His creation.
Christ’s blood did not purchase sins; it purchased human beings. It purchased us, and in that exchange it cleansed us from our sin. It paid our ransom, and it paid it completely. We have been bought spirit, soul, and body and we must give ourselves to God, spirit, soul, and body. If all you’ve given Christ is your sin, then you haven’t received Him and He hasn’t received you, because you’ve only given Him something extinguished.
Our inner being was bought with blood. Our mind, will, and emotions were bought with blood. Our body was bought with blood. Our worship was bought with blood. Our devotion was bought with blood. Our ministry was bought with blood. Every aspect of our life and being was bought by the life of Christ which He poured out in blood as a sacrifice for us. He redeemed us from chains and darkness, pain and sorrow, sickness and hurt, death and damnation. He bought us for love, life, glory, and service. He bought us for obedience. He bought us back from rebellion that He might be Lord of all.
Our Father is a jealous God (Deut. 4:24). His Spirit yearns and longs for what He created. He covets the breath of life that He placed in us (Gen. 2:7) and the Holy Spirit who lives within us (1 Cor 6:18, James 4:5). He deserves the focus of every moment, the motivation of every action, and all glory, honor, praise. His word and His Spirit urge us on into this single minded pursuit of glory for the one who redeemed us. This is the life Jesus paid for us to have, not a life of drudging slavery, but a life of love and pleasure in the presence of God’s favor and glory.
Christ’s blood has paid for all of humanity. He paid the price not only for us, but for every living being. Jesus purchased people from every tribe and language and people and nation. He purchased our families, friends, and neighbors. He purchased those who are foreign and strangers, small and great. He deserves all of us and all of them. The mission for His blood-bought church is to go in the authority of Jesus and the power of the Spirit and acquire what He paid for. When I look at the men and women of Hamtramck, I see the purchase of God, the price of His blood, and the mission of the body of Christ. They are the mission. They are the goal, and well over 10,000 in my city have never heard the message of Jesus. They have no knowledge of His life, His goodness, and His sacrifice to purchase us from death and bring us into the life of God which has no end.
May God receive His blood-bought creation.

Read the rest of the July 2012 Newsletter
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