I was privileged to meet Jed Duarte, a third generation missionary to Brazil, for coffee as a get-to-know meeting. Very quickly, my heart was blessed by his testimony of absolute surrender. Our theme this year is I Will Follow. Here is a young man who made that decision and is having the time of his life. I wanted to share it, so we sat down for a quick interview. Jed and his family will be with us at Grace Baptist Church on September 30 for the final Sunday of Mission Weeks.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…” (Ephesians 4:1)
Paul, writing to the dynamic church at Ephesus, challenges believers to live in a way that becomes disciples of Jesus. Wow! That is surely relevant to our lives today! Sometimes I hear lost business owners relate their experiences of dealing with those who claim to be Christian. They will say something like, “They said they were Christians, but they did not act like it…they were just rude.” It breaks my heart each time. My first response is, “Lord, help me to represent you in a way that causes the lost to want to be a Christian.” My second response is, “Dear Jesus, help us as your followers to get it together and represent.”
I challenge you to live this day fully aware that YOU are a representative of Jesus. How would Jesus respond to rudeness, to a life shackled by sin, a slow customer service line or an undercooked meal at the restaurant?
I challenge you to remember, they are watching you. Let them see Jesus.
This year, at Grace Baptist Church, we are our learning our purpose and priorities. More than anything, we want to accomplish the purpose that Christ has given us to accomplish. In Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” This is a huge, monumental undertaking! However, as one man said, “Through God’s power, our faithfulness is always possible.” We have a purpose and we must faithfully engage in that purpose.
This past Vision Sunday, I was excited to reveal our public church purpose statement. Our purpose is to engage in the complete fulfillment of the Great Commission of Christ through the power of the Spirit to the glory of God.
During this first quarter of the year, I am preaching and teaching our priorities—how we will accomplish our purpose. I believe that accomplishing such a God-sized purpose requires that we plan and prioritize. You can listen to the message at our website, facebook or podcast.
The Insanity of God. An eye catching title, I know! When this book was first recommended to me, I have to admit, it didn’t sound like a book I would read. You can never judge a book by its cover! From the first pages I was struck with the powerful testimony of God’s guidance in the life of Nik Ripkens who sought God earnestly. Here are some of the lessons I learned from the book and why you need read it as well.
- God is a Rewarder: “…he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Nik’s heart to seek God and to do His will is obvious throughout the book. There is a progression of growth in the author’s life that makes one thirsty to seek God also. By the last chapter, there a sense that Nik had experienced enormous growth in both the knowledge and love of God. It is time that American believers seek God in sincerity.
- God is Working in the Midst of Persecution: Much of the world does not know the freedoms that we experience in America. Persecution is a daily occurrence for many believers around the world. As Americans, we think restriction and persecution limits the work of God, but the opposite is true. God’s power is revealed in the most amazing ways in the most heavily persecuted countries. Persecuted believers in Somaliland, Russia, China and in Muslim lands are seeing God work as He did in the pages of the New Testament. Though we ought not seek persecution, we ought to embrace living for and serving Christ with same focus and passion as our persecuted brethren. As Stoyan said, reference American believers, “I took great joy that I was suffering in my country so that you could be free to witness in your country.” He went on to say, “DON’T YOU EVER GIVE UP IN FREEDOM WHAT WE WOULD NEVER GIVE UP IN PERSECUTION— AND THAT IS OUR WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!”
- God uses Dedicated Disciples: I discovered that these persecuted believers knew by experience what Jesus meant in Luke 9:23 when He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” I was left asking myself, “Do I know what that means.” They serve Jesus gladly even in the face of death because Jesus is worthy. Reading of their dedication, I have no question why God used them as He did. Let us decide to be dedicated to Jesus no matter what happens. He is worth it!
- God is the Same: The Bible tells us that God is always the same. We read the Biblical accounts of God’s powerful works and conclude, “That was just for Bible times.” Nik asks, “Is the resurrection power that the New Testament describes still real and available to believers in our world today? Nik discovered that the God of the New Testament had not changed and was still able and ready to show Himself strong. Our God is not limited by governments. He is not limited by evil. I was personally convicted of my lack of faith in the unlimited power of God. How we need a fresh realization of the grandness and power of our God.
After reading this book, I plan to recommend it to everybody I can, simply because it was a huge help to me. I am hungry to see God work in America and more specifically in my own community. This book challenged me not to get sidetracked by the thrills of life, but to seek to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.
All around us we see hate rising. Hate is not a new thing. Since the fall of man there has been hate. Do you remember Cain and how his hate toward his brother Abel led him to commit murder? Hate is the result of many other sins like envy, pride, greed, covetousness and prejudice. It is rampant in our society!
Jesus taught His followers to be different. He encouraged them to show love no matter if they were shown love. Luke 6:32 says, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.” Society around shows hate to those who hate them and love to those who love them. The followers of Jesus are to love and keep on loving. People around you toward are thirsty for genuine love. Refresh someone today with a loving spirit just like Jesus.
This past Sunday evening I was blessed to have the Weber family present their ministry to Mongolia. I was touched by their sincerity and unity as a family. During his presentation he gave us four ways to pray for them. These points are worthwhile in praying for missionaries in general.
- Falsehoods—pray for those who have believed the falsehoods of religion. Fifty percent of Mongolians are Buddhists. Forty percent claim no religion at all. The rest nominally claim Christianity. Pray that the truth of God’s Word will break through the error liberating these souls through its truth.
- Fruit—pray that the Mongolians will respond and follow Jesus. This would be the fruit of souls.
- Future—the future of any nation or even church is the children. Pray that God will draw the children to Himself. Pray that they would understand the Gospel and receive it.
- Favor—every missionary, whether at home or abroad, needs favor in the eyes of the people. They need to earn trust as the outsiders. Pray that God will give them creativity and open doors as they seek to build relationships from which they can share the gospel.
You can find out more information about the Webers at their website.