Travel the World
Since 2004, my brother – Micah – and I have had the privilege and joy to do two things together that we love: travel the world and share the good news of Christ. Not everyone knows the life joy of having your brother be your best friend, let alone knowing the adventure of traveling the world together. Destinations have ranged from the brutal cold temperatures of Russia to the tropic shores of Ecuador.
I am so excited to be traveling once again with my brother this summer for a three week trip back to Ecuador. Our family has been traveling to Ecuador and working with a group of local churches in that country for the last five years. What a joy it is to work with God’s people in other countries – to labor in the gospel together. Every time I return it’s like seeing family you have not seen in a long time.
In case you are unfamiliar with what we will be doing in Ecuador, here is a quick rundown. The first week consist of conducting day camps in tandem with the largest church in Ecuador. Set in the beautiful mountains of the congested city of Quito, air is short but kids are in abundance. The second week takes us on a 7 hour – Give or take but heavy on the give – bus ride to the coastal city of Esmeralda. Where as Quito can be a bit chilly, Esmeralda provides us with all the heat and humidity that you might want. Working in tandem with the sister churches of Quito, our time is filled with putting on a kids program in the evenings while the churches convene for parent/leadership meetings. During the day, we visit the various public and private schools of the city… forging friendships and sharing the gospel. Week three is my – and I think I can speak for my brother – favorite week of the trip. Its camp week! That means 24/7 with about 80 kids at a camp set on a beautiful sandy beach. It’s here that lasting relationships are built and time is had to share and talk about the gospel on a daily basis. I bet you wish you could come?
- Pray the Spirit paves the way in the hearts & minds of those who will hear the truth.
- Pray for the team both in health & focus as they enter this intense time of ministry.
- Pray for our safety of travel. We depart July 12 returning Aug. 4
- Pray that the team would be unified in the person of Christ alone
- Pray for continued provision for the trip
Follow the Journey…
We will be traveling with Global Encounters Ministries. If you would like to keep up with all the comings and goings, you can follow the trip blog at globalencounter.com. Thank you so much for your support. Stay tuned: Micah and I will give a full report upon our return.
So as you know, we have been talking about church locality, but what do the Apostles have to say about church locality? Join Charles and Daniel as the dig into the epistles and take a closer look…
Our family had the privilege to speak at the Family Leadership Conference in Tampa, FL at the end of February this year. Our host church was Lakeshore Bible Church. It was a joy to have fellowship and encourage this local body of believers…not to mention, we enjoyed some warmer weather during the frigid temperatures of a hard Midwest winter. We thought you might enjoy this resource for free. Feel free to download and share with others. You too can discover the biblical foundation of leading a family for the glory of Christ alone.
A majority of Christians have a misconception of the locality of the church. Millennial’s like to approach it as a nebulous happening. But what does the scriptures have to say about the locality of the church? Is there a structure that is needed to accomplish God’s plan for the body? Charles and Daniel discuss all this and more in this weeks CrossTalk.
When I was a child, it was not unusual for my siblings and I to get into arguments (I’m sure that’s surprising). Usually one of us would go to our mother complaining about what the other one did. Mother’s question often was: “what did you do?” To which we would often reply: “She hit me ﬁrst.” I’m sure you are familiar with the scenario.
It occurred to me that our modus operandi has changed only a little since we have grown up and gotten married. Spouses tend to respond in kind to one another. What one does, the other does back. And Christian couples are not exempt. Left to ourselves, unaided by the Holy Spirit, we do unto the other as he or she has done unto us.
My mother used to say to us: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” It’s a simple truth. As the recent commercial says: “It’s not complicated.” But we tend to complicate it, don’t we? We act as though one’s wrong to us can be corrected by a wrong in return, and we are no more apt to practice this misguided philosophy of relationships than in our marriages.
Jacob and Sophia had been married ten years. Both were committed Christians when they were wed. They had high hopes for a successful Christian marriage and were committed to making it happen. They served The Lord and sought to encourage others in their walk with Christ.
But Jacob had scars from difﬁcult relationships in his early years, and the unresolved resentment caused him to respond in ways that made it difﬁcult for Sophia to fulﬁll her responsibilities as a Christian spouse. She knew what her responsibilities were, but it did not seem to matter what she did. Jacob was angry and hurtful and impossible to please, and it seemed that would never change. In spite of her love for Christ and Jacob, she often wondered,”Why bother”. There are a number of Christian husbands and wives in similar situations. There are some who have given up entirely. What is a spouse to do in such a situation?
Remember, you cannot change your spouse or anyone else for that matter. Even your obedience to The Lord will not guarantee his or her spiritual transformation. Neither can you make your spouse happy. If that is your goal or something you are clinging to as a possibility to ﬁx the problem, you will likely be disappointed. It is my hope that the following thoughts will be helpful, though not an exhaustive list of easy answers.
Another thing you cannot do is respond correctly in your own strength. No amount of human willpower will work for you. Like many others, you will fail and sometimes alternate between blame and guilt.
These observations are not meant to leave you without hope or cause depression. Our weakness and sinfulness are meant to drive us to the cross and to the throne of God. When we are sinful, we ﬂee to Christ. When we are weak, we rely on God’s grace for strength. When we are at the point of despair we remember that we are not to be weary in doing good. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
So where does our responsibility lie? We are responsible to keep Christ at the center and to ﬁnd our all in Him. “My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.” As you cannot make your spouse happy, neither should you look to your spouse for your ultimate happiness. Yes, marital bliss and happiness are good things and should be part of a Christian marriage. But often what should be does not happen, and it never happens perfectly this side of heaven.
So, love your spouse with the love of Christ. Show the forgiveness that God has shown you in Christ, and learn in your marriage(no matter how happy or ﬂawed) to take up your cross and follow Christ. Fulﬁll your role by God’s grace, and trust Him to do in you and your spouse that which will bring Him the most glory. And remember, “Two wrongs do not make a right”.
In the love of Christ,
Note: Jacob and Sophia are ﬁctitious characters used only as an illustration.
“The Church” is more than a mere human institution. It is not just another club or something to take our time. Join Charles and Daniel as they dissect this misconception. And you might be surprised how much you fall into this misunderstanding…
I had the privilege to speak at the Heritage Baptist Youth Retreat this past March and was deeply challenged and encouraged even as I spoke. Having been a teenager not so long ago, I remember the challenges and struggles that I went through at that age. It is a formative time in your life, and things you hear or learn at that age can stick with you for a lifetime. They can also leave as quickly as you heard them. My prayer was that the Spirit of God would use His word to grab hold of each young person and begin the process of raising up a new generation who pursues and proclaims the glorious gospel.
The theme for the retreat was ‘May it be said of us’ with a particular focus on 1 Timothy 4:12…
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
I challenged the young people to ask themselves what it is that is being said of them. If the gospel is a reality in their lives, then there were five things about which the gospel should be informing their lives: (1) Speech, (2) Conduct, (3) Love, (4) Faith, & (5) Purity. These particular things, though not exhaustive, are often lacking in the life of a young person. This is where they find themselves struggling day in and day out. I challenged them not to give reason for people to despise their youth. Our culture has developed a definite and natural despising of youthful vigor. However, they needed to strive against and not to feed this preconception. They needed to live for something bigger than themselves – the glory of Christ.
Below, you will find the recording of those messages. I hope and pray that the word will encourage and challenge your heart as you listen. Feel free to share with others.
The biblical definition of the church is vague in the minds of people today and misconceptions abound. Join Daniel and Charles as the discuss these misconceptions and lay the ground work for a biblical definition that changes your life.
When I was a young pastor, there was an elderly woman who had a long and storied history with my church. She was something of a matriarch who had controlled committees, decisions, and even pastors throughout the years. When I arrived, her power, though still evident, was waning.
What was most signiﬁcant about this woman’s life was the bitterness that came to light as one got to know her and her life story. Her story was etched on her face, and her anger and distrust still dictated her responses to those around her. This stalwart church member illustrated the undeniable importance of forgiveness and the consequences of a life marked by unforgiveness and bitterness.
Life naturally brings opportunities to exercise forgiveness. Jesus told us that it is necessary that offenses should come. They are a part of what God is doing in our lives. Friends, co-workers, neighbors, and fellow-church members are all possible candidates as offending parties.
But nowhere is the need for forgiveness greater than in the context of immediate family relationships. The dynamic relationships between husbands and wives, siblings, and parents and children bring delightful interaction but also friction and hurts. The Apostle Paul addressed some of this when he instructed fathers not to provoke their children to wrath and husbands not to be bitter against their wives. Unfulﬁlled promises and disappointed expectations can lead to resentment but are opportunities to exercise the ﬁne art of Christian forgiveness. Some offenses can be relatively small, like calling a sibling a name. Others may be quite large like marital unfaithfulness. But left unresolved, every offense has the potential to be devastating.
The problem is, we do not naturally have or cultivate an attitude of forgiveness. Our thoughts and responses in this area may be governed by a limited perspective. There are some things we may ﬁnd easier to forgive. Others are much more of a challenge. Then there is the problem of repeated offenses, which is very common in family relationships and others as well. This was the issue behind Peter’s question to Christ: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him; seven times?” This seems like a reasonable question from a human perspective, and the teaching of Peter’s day said that three times was enough. So seven may have seemed spiritual and generous.
But that is the problem with a limited, human perspective. It fails to see the larger perspective of God’s work and the limitless opportunities of a forgiving heart. And that leads us to the basis of all forgiveness. Forgiveness is, at its heart, a Gospel issue. It is an issue of the children of God exhibiting the very nature of their Heavenly Father. “For You LORD are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy unto all who call upon You.” (Psalm 86:5) Christ’s dying words were; “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”(Luke 23:34) The reason we forgive is that we have been forgiven. Our Father has forgiven us a great debt of sin for Christ’s sake. We who know Him are the beneﬁciaries of untold grace and mercies. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31,32) Christ is the reason we forgive.
The reason we forgive is Christ. The refusal to forgive is evidence that we do not know Christ or His forgiveness. Those who understand the basis for forgiveness are forgiving. Those who refuse to forgive do not understand or know forgiveness. So forgiveness is necessary for our salvation, our sanctiﬁcation, and as the fruit of a forgiven life. “Even as Christ forgave you, so do also.” (Colossians 3:13b) Perhaps their is no greater Gospel fruit. Let us purpose, by God’s grace, to walk in the way of forgiveness.
In the Grace of Christ,