In November we prayed and asked God to provide us with 9 new supporters.
He did it!
We are thankful for those who joined our support team last month. They have helped us make good progress to toward reaching 100% of our support needs!
However, we are not there yet, so we welcome anyone who wants to join our team.
Early tomorrow morning I fly to Ukraine for 6 days to participate in some meetings. I would appreciate your prayers as I travel.
In the last week Ukraine has experienced some violent protests in the capital of Kiev. I will fly into Odessa and out of Kiev so hopefully things will calm down by the time I have to fly out of Kiev.
Question: Can you pray for me as I travel to Ukraine this week?
What are you thankful for?
If you’re like me you can easily come up with a long list of nice things in your life.
However, what would you do if those these were all taken from you? Could you still give thanks then!
I encourage you to take 2 minutes to watch this short clip from last Sunday’s sermon.
We are thankful when we obtain that which we pursue in our lives.
If your main pursuit is for material things, position or pleasure then you can only be thankful when those temporary things are present.
If you want to be thankful in all situations you must be pursuing something eternal, you must pursue Jesus!
Question: How are you pursuing Jesus this Thanksgiving?
Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at our home church, Discovery Baptist. You can watch the entire sermon here, which the podcast below is based on.
This time of year it’s all around us; the temptation to make your life better by obtaining a product or a service that promises to revolutionize the way you feel and who you are!
God simply calls it covetousness! In this week’s podcast I talk about what it means to covet and give you five signs that can indicate that you are coveting.
You can now hear the podcast on Stitcher or on iTunes head on over to your favorite one and while you’re there don’t forget to leave a rating and review!
When I recorded this podcast we had 7 new supporters but by the time I got ready to post this we already gained another supporter! That means we have 8 new supporters for the month of November! Praise the Lord!
Go here to join our support team and help us reach the goal of 9 new supporters this month.
Go here to give a special Thanksgiving gift to our ministry.
Right now are there people in heaven and people in hell?
God loves us unconditionally. Are we capable of loving Him back the same way?
The 10th Commandment
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, or his slave-girl, or his ox, or his ass, or anything which belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17
Coveting = the strong desire to obtain something that God has not given you!
“Do not covet” is the only commandment that can only be broken on a heart level.
Paul calls covetousness idolatry
Then put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil lust, and covetousness, which is idolatry Colossians 3:5
Coveting was part of the first sin. Adam and Eve coveted the only thing God didn’t give them. They believed the lie that God did not have their best interests in mind and that he was withholding something good from them.
5 signs you are coveting
1. When you spend money you don’t have for things you don’t need.
2. When you purchase things you don’t need because they are on sale for a limited time.
3. When you complain about things like your house, your spouse or your job to others.
4. When you use phrases like “if I only had…” or “what I wouldn’t give for…”
5. When you can not genuinely be happy for a someone who has experienced a success in an area where you have struggled.
The solution to coveting is contentment and godliness
”But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1Timothy 6:6-12
When we exchange our desire for things and status and replace them with God we give ourselves a whole new pursuit, God becomes our greatest desire and coveting disappears.
Question: What other signs of coveting have you seen? What other Scriptures speak about about how we ought to pursue God instead of things?
If you want your church to grow then missions isn’t the first department you’d think about. In the church growth books I’ve read you might not think about missions at all!
Why is it that missions is so blatantly absent from the advice of many church growth gurus?
Maybe it’s because missions isn’t really that good for the local church!
- Update: We currently have 7 new supporters for November! We are praying that God will provide 2 more! We’d love to have you join our support team so check out the progress here and share it with your friends. Thank you!
My first trip to Ukraine was in 1994. It was at a time when our own church, Discovery Baptist in Gig Harbor, Washington was not doing well. We were in a rented facility and had just learned that the owner was going to sell the building. We had nowhere to go and no money to buy anything, attendance was down, things were looking bleak!
That’s when my dad and I decided to leave behind the struggling church to serve for a month in Ukraine! We had never done anything like this before but it seemed the Lord was leading us in that direction.
Some, however, resisted. They asked,
“Shouldn’t we focus on fixing our problems first?”
They believed that missions was hurting our church.
From a practical and business perspective missions really does hurt the church.
- Missions takes money.
- Missions takes time.
- Missions takes the best people away.
Those are all resources that seem to be in short supply in nearly every church, not to mention small struggling church plants!
We decided to go to Ukraine despite these things. Then we went again about 9 months later! I continued to travel back and forth until moving there full time in 2007.
Did missions kill our church? Not by a long shot!
After we got back from our first trip in 1994 things started to come together for our home church. Attendance increased, we found a new facility, purchased it and the church took off!
We learned some important lessons from that experience.
- The church is much more than a business. Certain business practices can be helpful to the church but ultimately it is Jesus who builds the church not man! Matthew 16:18
- God has called the church to do missions, it is an inextricable part of her DNA! Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8
- The Church that serves and sacrifices will thrive! Serving the larger Body of Christ is part of this and will ultimately help bring greater spiritual health and life to the church. 2 Corinthians 8:1-4
Question: How have you seen missions worked out in your church? What lessons have you learned through missions?
No person influences your worship more than your spouse and that’s why in this week’s podcast I’m talking about the benefits of arranged marriages and the importance of choosing a spouse wisely!
Thanks to everyone who shared our support goal for November!
- Giles won the free book Jesus>Religion You can connect with Giles on Twitter or on his blog!
- Nine in November – We have 5 new supporters so far this month. That means we are just 4 away from the goal of 9 total!
- You can help us by filling out the short form here and by sharing the need with your network!
The problem of “falling in love”
I call it or “Cinderella theology” and it happens all the time. Couples get married simply because they “fell in love”.
It’s not Biblical!
It’s not wise!
It’s not something I want my kids to do!
If you marry someone based upon how they make you feel then you will also be tempted to leave someone based upon how they make you feel
If you “fell in-love” you can “fall out-of-love”!
Check out what Timothy Keller says about this phenomena in “The meaning of marriage”
“The in-love experience passes when the flaws in the other person come home to us. Things that seemed small and inconsequential now loom large. We begin to feel that we did not really know the person after all. And this presents us with the challenge of loving a person who, at the moment, seems in large part a stranger, not the person you remember marrying. When this happens, people respond in a number of different ways. If your purpose in marriage was to acquire a “soul mate”—a person who would not change you and would supportively help you reach your life goals—then this particular reality of marriage will be deeply disorienting. You wake up to the realization that your marriage will take a huge investment of time just to make it work. Just as distressing will be the discovery that your spouse finds you a stranger and has begun to confront you with a list of your serious shortcomings. Your first response will be to tell yourself you made a bad choice and failed to find someone truly compatible” -Timothy Keller “The meaning of marriage”
A better basis for choosing a spouse
Being “in love” is an emotional and physiological state that often comes early in a relationship brought on by a combination of hormones, imagination and romantic expectations.
Falling in love isn’t wrong, it’s just not a basis for marriage. If you got married because you fell in love that doesn’t mean things won’t work out but you’ll have to learn to love your spouse soon enough.
The Biblical basis for marriage is character
The book of Proverbs was written primarily with young single men in mind. Solomon often contrasts the wise and the foolish woman, he does this in part to teach his sons how to find a good wife. Proverbs 31 goes into detail describing a woman of noble character. This was written for young men to read as they looked for a wife.
Some examples of arranged marriages
- Christina and I are a product of an arranged marriage (subscribe to our blog for the whole story)
- Adam and Eve had an arranged marriage, God didn’t create 6 women and then parade them around Adam until he fell in love with one of them.
- Issac and Rebekah
- Jacob and Rachel/Leah
Benefits of arranged marriages
1. It relies on the years and wisdom of the parents.
2. It removes the blindness of being in love.
3. It gives the young couple a healthier start to their marriage.
4. It encourages the parents and children to be planning for marriage from an early age.
5. It helps children to see that marriage impacts far more people than just those getting married.
How can parents take an active role?
1. Help your child develop a proper understanding of marriage.
2. Teach your child that romance is for after marriage not before (Hollywood doesn’t help).
3. Talk frequently with your children about the importance of finding a spouse with character.
4. Build a trust with your child.
Questions: What do you think, how involved should parents be in the helping to choose their children’s future spouses?
Note: you’ll want to make sure to listen to this podcast before commenting as not all the content is included in the show notes.
One difference we notice after coming back to America is that Sunday morning worship is much shorter. In my experience most US churches keep their main worship service to somewhere between 60-90 minutes.
In contrast most Ukrainian churches I’ve been in will run around 120 minutes.
Maybe Ukraine has influenced me too much or maybe God’s Word has but I’ve come to the conclusion that many American churches have wimped out on worship!
They have caved to cultural pressure and cut short the one time in the week when the entire local church gathers to worship as one!
Some argue that the church must be culturally relevant and in and effort not to break social norms they limit the worship time.
What social norms are they talking about?
Let’s look at the most popular sports in America they must tell us something about what people are willing to sit through. I did a little research and this is what I found for the average length of games.
- Basketball NBA – 150 minutes
- Major League Baseball – 170 minutes
- Football NFL – 180 minutes
Those definitely don’t fit into our nice 60-90 minute church service slot!
What about movies, they’re a lot more like a church service and aren’t most popular moves around 90 minutes?
Once again I did some checking! Below are the top 10 grossing films of all time along with how many minutes they run.
- Avatar – 171 minutes
- Titanic - 194 minutes
- Avengers – 142 minutes
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 130 minutes
- Iron Man 3 – 130 minutes
- Transformers – 154 minutes
- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – 201 minutes
- Skyfall – 143 minutes
- The Dark Night Rises – 165 minutes
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – 151 minutes
That’s an average running time of 158 minutes! Maybe Americans aren’t as pressed for time as we thought!
You can’t just decide to have longer services by simply moving the start time back a few minutes! Adding 30 minutes to your service doesn’t automatically make it more spiritual or more helpful.
A longer service means more planning.
- What do your people really need?
- How can you use the time most effectively to foster true worship of the true God?
These question demand that we focus our attention on our core purposes for the weekly worship time. A properly planned time of worship ought to edify the participants and glorify God at the same time.
Add what is lacking
Every church is different so there is no cookie cutter approach. However, here are a few suggestions of what you might want to add to your service.
Longer sermons: 20-30 minutes just doesn’t cut it. Our people need well prepared Bible teaching that does more than skim the surface. Shoot for at least 40 mins of clear and compelling Biblical content.
More sermons: Instead of making the sermon longer you could add a second or third sermon. People will benefit greatly by hearing from more than one preaching voice on Sunday mornings.
More testimonies: Too many churches relegate testimonies to a few times a year. Why not make them a weekly part of your worship?
More prayer: Extended corporate prayer is beautiful and powerful! Consider 10 mins of praying in small groups and also prepared prayers.
More participation from the Children: Involving children in worship helps our kids appreciate worship from an early age, it also blesses the adults! Don’t wait until Christmas or Easter to have the children sing, recite verses or do a skit!
Question: How long is the service at your church? Is it too long or too short? What would you add or subtract?
Are good things really good for you? You might be surprised by the answer in this week’s podcast.
In this episode of Now is the Time I talk about the inherent danger in good things, how we are often blind to this danger and what we can do to protect ourselves.
Check out the podcast on iTunes and while you’re there don’t forget to leave a rating and review!
We’re asking God to provide 9 new supporters in the month of November. Help us find those supporters and you can get a free book!
I’ve created this page where you can find information about the campaign and fill out a short form if you want to support us.
Here’s what you have to do to have a chance to win the book.
- Share the Nine in November page on either Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
- Write a comment on this post to let me know that you shared.
- That’s it!
Good things can be dangerous
We don’t usually think of good things as being dangerous, but if we’re not careful they can be deadly. Here are 3 ways that good things can turn around and bite us.
Good things become dangerous when we get so busy with them that we forget God.
Yes, even good things like work, hobbies, sports and sometimes even ministry can do us harm if we allow them to take over our life. In the gospels Jesus’ friend Martha was consumed with a good thing, she was serving Jesus, she was being hospitable. Unfortunately her desire to do something good made her too busy to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to the Word of God.
“Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. But there’s only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better, and it is not to be taken away from her.” Luk 10:40-42
Good things become dangerous when they are unlimited.
Just think about it, things like food, sex, painkillers, money and power are all good but when they are unlimited or unregulated they can quickly turn into terrible addictions that will destroy a person physically and spiritually.
America is the land of abundance, but often that abundance hurts us. Having more than what we need tends to pull us away from God and cause us to forget our spiritual need. Moses warned the Israelites about this before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promise land.
“When the LORD your God brings you to the land that he promised to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he will give you large and beautiful cities that you didn’t build, houses filled with every good thing that you didn’t supply, wells that you didn’t dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you didn’t plant. When you eat and are satisfied, be careful not to forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and slavery.” Deu 6:10-12
Good things become dangerous when we believe they are the source of happiness and fulfillment
While good things can bring us temporary pleasure they are not the source of the deeper joy and fulfillment we seek. Only God can provide true happiness.
When we think that something created can fulfill us we turn it into an idol of the heart. Idols can never do what God can do.
“They have mouths, but cannot speak; they have eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear; they have noses, but cannot smell;
They have hands, but cannot touch; feet, but cannot walk; they cannot even groan with their throats.
Those who craft them will become like them, as will all those who trust in them.” Psa 115:5-8
The only way we can guard ourselves from the danger of good things is by guarding our hearts
“You are to love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
Let these words that I’m commanding you today be always on your heart.” Deu 6:5-6
Question: How have you seen the danger of good things? What else can we do to protect ourselves
Doctor and dental appointments, visiting friends and sharing with supporters have kept our first two weeks in America very busy!
Here is a brief video update to let you know what are schedule is in November and how you can pray for us.
We are trying to meet with as many people as we can while we are here in the States. If we are near you this month we invite you to come and listen to what God is doing in Ukraine
If you’d like to do coffee or lunch just send us a note. Below is our schedule for November.
- We will be at Bethany Bible in Kenmore, Washington on November 3rd and 10th
- Discovery Baptist is our sending church and we will be there on November 17th and 24th
Part of our task while in the US it to raise some more support.
That’s why we are asking God for nine new supporters in November!
The dollar amount doesn’t matter, we’re simply looking for nine people who can support us and with whom we can build a relationship.
Help us reach the goal
If you follow our ministry and would like to promote what God is doing in Ukrainian churches we invite you to support the ministry!
I’ve created a form here so that you can quickly and simply let us know that you want to join our support team.
Share the need
If you aren’t able to support us please share this information. Maybe you have a friend or a family member who could help. We would also appreciate it if you could share this with your church.
Keep on praying
Your prayers play a vital role and that is why we are asking you to pray specifically for our support needs this month.
If you haven’t already done so one of the best ways to stay updated on our prayer needs is to subscribe to our blog.
Question: Can you help us reach our goal of nine new supporters in November?
I don’t think that you would disagree with me that Halloween emphasizes the spirit world and in particular the dark side of the spirit world. As followers of Jesus how should we deal with this?
In this episode of Now is the Time I share with you my experience of dealing with a demon’s who were tormenting a girl in the jungles of the Amazon. I also show you what the Bible says about the spirit world and talk about the Christian’s response to Satan and demons.
Check it out, you might just be surprised!
Check out the podcast on iTunes and while you’re there don’t forget to leave a rating and review!
What does the Bible teach about the these things?
The spirit world is real
There are many references to the spirit world both the Old and New testaments. In Daniel 10:12-13 an angel came to Daniel and explained to him that he had been delayed 21 days by a spiritual battle.
Satan is real and has real power
Not only is Satan a real being but he also has great power. In Job 1 :6-12 Satan comes before God and receives permission to harm Job’s life. Satan has great power to destroy.
Peter also warns us to be alert because the devil is “prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
The spiritual battle is the greatest battle
It’s vital that Christians understand that we are in a spiritual battle. The spiritual battle is the greatest battle that we will ever fight! Ephesians 6:10-12
Christians should have nothing to do with the demonic world
- The Old Testament warned against participating in a long list of demonic activities including, sacrifices to Satan, divination, interpretation of omens, sorcery, casting spells, going to a medium, fortune teller or someone who communicates with the dead. Deuteronomy 18:10-12
- Saul was condemned for seeking the help of a medium. 1 Chronicles 10:13
- When people believed in the book of Acts they burned their occultic books. Acts 19:19
- Throughout the Bible believers are called to be children of light and life as opposed to people of death and darkness. Ephesians 5:8, Romans 8:6-7
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel and excessive and unhealthy interest in them. C.S. Lewis
Questions to ask yourself about Halloween?
- Is my celebration teaching my children that Satan and demons are real or just fantasy?
- Is my celebration focusing on life and light or on death and darkness?
There are two great books I mentioned in this podcast. The first is a very useful book by Chip Ingram called Invisible War, The: What Every Believer Needs to Know about Satan, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare. Chip does a good job of laying out what the Bible says about this topic and how we as Christians should respond.
The second book is a classic by C.S. Lewis called The Screwtape Letters. It is a fictional account of a demon who is communicating to his protegé through letters. Lewis has an uncanny way of understanding human nature, sin and the devils tactics to do everything possible to lead man way from God.
Question: Do you believe Satan and his demons exist? What’s your approach to Halloween?
I know something about you!
You have heroes in your life, people you look up to, people you try to emulate, people you desire to be like. You may have never met them in person but you have them.
I know because I also have heroes in my life as does everyone!
The power of heroes
Heroes play a vital role in your hearts. They infiltrate your thoughts, they determine your likes and dislikes, they influence your decisions and set a course for your life.
Heroes truly are powerful! Yet we rarely choose our own heroes!
It’s like falling in love
Most people approach heroes like falling in love; it just happens to you and you have no control over it. You can’t start it and once it happens you can’t stop it.
Unfortunately that’s a lie!
You decide or someone else will
Just like love, heroes are always chosen!
If you didn’t choose your heroes then someone else did for you. Take Vladimir Ilyich Lenin for an example. He was chosen to be a hero by the Communist party and whether or not he deserved it he became the hero for millions of people and even today is still honored by millions!
You must choose your heroes and you must choose wisely.
The danger of not choosing
There’s a danger if you don’t consciously determine your own heroes. The danger is that society will choose them for you. We live in a society that honors the bad boys and loves the naughty girls. Our society looks up to the rebel and praises the rule breaker.
A wise man once warned about these kind of heroes:
Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble. (Pro 24:1-2)
A question of the heart
If the author of this proverb had simply said, “don’t spend time with them” that would have been easy! After all most of our heroes are movies stars and famous singers with whom we never really spend time.
However, the warning here is to not envy them or desire to be with them! This takes us out of the realm of rules and puts us into the realm of the heart.
This command indicates that we can and must choose our heroes and control our desires.