Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fresh Labor and Fresh Vision (January 2015 Newsletter)

Don't you have a saying, 'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. – John 4:35

Jesus told His disciples to look at the harvest, to open their eyes and look with new eyes and understanding that the time was short and that harvest time was now. Our vision and our focus determine everything that we do. How we see the world around us and what God has commanded us to do determine our obedience and our motivation.

When Jesus looked at the harvest he was moved with compassion and urgency. When Jesus saw a hungry crowd He took responsibility for their needs. He challenged His disciples, “You give them something to eat.” It was an impossible task in their eyes. They had no resources, no plan, and no strategy to provide for the hungry masses. Jesus challenged their thinking, teaching them to consider not only the need in front of them, but the power of God that was present in their relationship with Him. Jesus gave instructions to organize the crowd, imposing structure on the chaos, before placing the miracle of multiplying bread in the disciples’ hands. As they obeyed, they saw a miracle unfold before them.

Ministry requires that we see both the need of the world and God’s power to meet the need. We must see the ripeness of the harvest and the power of the Holy Spirit to reap the souls of men. We must hear the voice of the Master and obey, trusting that He will both direct our work and put a miracle in our hands that will be more than enough for the massive need that surrounds us.
I am filled with anticipation as I seek the Lord in prayer and fasting this January. I see the same harvest, I’ve seen before. I see the hopelessness and helplessness of those around me. They are captives to sin, depression, and both spiritual and physical poverty. They are spiritually alone. My heart is moved with compassion. I can remember the hopelessness of being lost and without Christ, but though I am moved with empathy I do not live in their hopelessness. I live in the hope of a kind and loving God who is powerful and mighty to save and rescue. I hear His voice encouraging and strengthening His body and giving us both directions and power to reach the lost of this world.

I am thrilled for new partnerships, new outreaches, and the new miracles we will see this year. Even today I am working on resources and organization that will help us map and carry out evangelistic outreaches to every home on every street of Hamtramck this year. In the next few months mission teams will be coming to Hamtramck to labor in our harvest, and I will get to invest in the body of Christ in Uganda. Old partnerships will mature as we discover the gifts in one another and find greater unity. New partnerships are already forming as God spreads a single vision among His body. I know that God will fill our hands with bread that multiplies to every home. The best is yet to come!

Read the rest of the Newsletter here.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My 2015 Bible Reading Plan

Happy New Year!

Last year I went through the most intense Bible reading plan I've ever attempted (short of the 26 day whole Bible rush I did in college). You can check out the plan here. Basically I read through the whole Bible once and the Gospels and Acts 30 times. How did it go? Fairly well. I did read the Gospels and Acts over thirty times with the help of audio Bibles, and I did read the whole Bible with the exception of being fairly spotty in Psalms and Proverbs (odd I know, but I kept bouncing back and forth to those two while reading other books, which meant I didn't keep enough discipline to get all the way through them).

It was a profoundly challenging experience. The Gospels and Acts are demanding, and I honestly miss the encouragement of the epistles, which I usually read more than any other portion of the Bible.

So what's up this year?

I'm going to scale things back a bit, by keeping track of my reading on a simple checklist and doing ten chapters per day. I will read the whole Bible at least once, but other than that broad goal I will be free to read what I want, when I want with one exception. I will be reading the Gospel of John at least once a month. How does that break down?

  • Read ten chapters per day
  • Read the whole Bible at least once
  • Read the Gospel of John at least once per month
  • Keep track here:

Need some encouragement for the new year? Check out this New Year's sermon: