Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Work On Your Knees:

A man once spent twenty minutes and twenty seconds one day looking at two different emails. The first email was from a local store that shared all of its weekly deals. He studied it in detail, not only hoping to find a great offer but also to see what was new in the world of technology. He took 20 minutes to do this and thought the rest of the day about what he discovered.

The second email this man received was from a missionary who preached the gospel and started churches in a difficult place on the other side of the earth. He didn’t read much of this email, but he did scroll all the way down to the bottom. He deleted it twenty seconds after it was opened. He didn’t think about the missionary one time the rest of the day, but he did ask God to bless “all of the missionaries out there” during family devotions that night.

I’m ashamed to say that the man in the story above was me. Thankfully, God has graciously shown me a better way. Sure, we’re free to look through a local store’s weekly ad and make wise purchases, but something is amiss in our lives and churches if we treat the reports of missionaries as flippantly as I did. We have a responsibility to partner with them not only financially, but prayerfully.

Powerful preaching and fruitful ministry on the mission field depend on the prayers of God’s people. Paul understood this. Just before his departure on the first and second missionary journeys (and presumably the third), the believers in Antioch prayed for Paul and his team (Acts 13:3; 15:40). Furthermore, five times in his letters he asked directly for prayer. In First Thessalonians 5:25, he simply says, “Brothers, pray for us.” He’s more specific in his other appeals:

Romans 15:30-32 – “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”

Ephesians 6:19-20 – “[Pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Colossians 4:3-4 – “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”

2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 – “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.”

The great burden of the missionary is to take the gospel to unbelievers, to see them converted, and then to help them start churches. God saves sinners through the proclamation of the gospel (cf. Romans 10:17), but He does not intend to save apart from the prayers of believers. James Fraser, a missionary to the Lisu people in China, wrote to his prayer partners back home, “I believe it will only be known on the Last Day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of earnest believers at home.”

We should feel the urgency of this responsibility to pray for missionaries:

Pray right away when the email or prayer letter arrives. Read it thoughtfully. Study carefully any pictures that are attached. These are real people, in the most important battle happening on this earth. Heaven or hell is in the balance. You may pray again later, but don’t wait until then—too much is at stake.

Pray regularly every day. You could write their names and specific requests on a prayer list you keep in your Bible, or on cards you look at throughout the day or when you exercise. One man I know prays for certain Welsh ministers every time he uses a certain coffee cup. You might use the same strategy for missionaries. I seek to pray for a different missionary before each meal.

James Fraser, when pleading with those who sent him to China to persevere in prayer for his ministry, expressed what any faithful missionary believes: “Solid, lasting missionary work is done on our knees.”

Wednesday Worship:

Wednesday Worship:

Wednesday Worship:

Wednesday Worship

Social Media Musings:

I am not sure if you saw it but last week I posted a picture on social media attempting to show my students how far and how fast one picture could travel around the world.

I was blown away by how fast one picture could travel around the world. In less than 48 hours the picture had 625 LIKES, 582 COMMENTS, 2.3K SHARES. In one week it has had 1.1 LIKE, 1.1 COMMENTS, 6,000 LIKES. The picture made it to almost every state, every major continent (except Antarctica), the church office received emails and I received Facebook messages from people who saw the post all over the world: including but not limited to Guam, Japan, South Africa, Ghana, Germany, Russia, UK, Honduras etc, and the post was even featured on a local radio program and there Friday night show geared towards middle and high school students.

I am gathering all of the material to teach a lesson on social media to my students but below are just three brief thoughts on the activity.

  1. Social Media can be very dangerous: I quickly lost control of where the post was going. When I posted the picture I was able to keep up with the comments and shares but as the minutes (yes minutes) ticked by it began to be shared quicker than I could follow. In one hour it had been shared 114 times and had already made it to: Alabama, Montana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Russia, Japan, Honduras and this was just in one hour. Not to mention the number of people who told me they screen shot the picture and would save until the day they use against me. One person who I don't even know... screen shot the picture and altered it with another picture but the post still looka like it came from me. See picture to the right. 
    1. Take away: We need to be very careful what we post online or send to someone else. It may start off as "anonymous" but once we send the post or tweet the phrase we lose all control of it. We should never post or tweet anything we wouldn't say to someone's face or do with our grandma in the room ;) You don't know how quickly that sext can be saved without your knowledge of it and shared around the internet without you knowing. One of my followers was able to alter a post and still make it look like it came from me... this has huge implications especially in our 24/7 news cycle world we need to be very careful that we are not sharing FAKE news and to check our sources.
  2. Companies Need To Pay Attention To And Be On Social Media: I had an idea for a lesson on social media, I saw an idea on how to get my point across and within less than 48 hours my message was shared all around the world. Let me give you a "hypothetical" situation if every time I go to O'Charleys on University Boulevard in Winston Salem and every time the service is slow (it doesn't matter how many or how few people are in the restaurant) and every time the service is slow, how long will it be till I tweet that out to my 1,000 followers and we begin to trash talk O'Charleys on University Boulevard in Winston Salem ;)  The power of social media gives me the ability to share my opinion either good or bad with my followers and any post could go viral. 
    1. Take away: companies need to be on social media and interacting with there followers. Anyone else remember the craziness which happened when Brad's wife got fired from Cracker Barrel? Companies need to invest in a social media strategy to ignore social media is to do so at their peril. 
  3. Churches and Pastors Need To Pay Attention To And Be On Social Media: Social Media can be very dangerous (see point 1) but there is also an incredible potential to reach people with the Gospel. Let me give you an example I blog all the time, I am sitting at my kitchen table... typing and on my blog I have people from Russia, Canada, United Kingdom and the Ukraine not to mention 83 people from the United States reading my blog. I am ministering to people in 5 different countries and I haven't even left my kitchen. What potential social media has to reach people with the Gospel?
    1. Take away: What potential social media has to reach people with the Gospel? How many followers do you have? How many of them would love to hear an encouraging word from the Bible every day? Oh, what potential Christians miss out on by neglecting social media.
In conclusion, I have learned and am still learning a lot from my post. My students have learned and are learning a lot from my post. Social media can be very dangerous but there is also a great opportunity for companies and churches. Social media is not going away any time soon... it's time for us to utilize social media in a positive way.