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Singapore: The Place for Us

February 27, 2014 1 comment

As I mentioned, when leaving America many people were keen to let me know that needs existed at home, too. They were confused as to why I’d have to leave & go so far just to meet needs in the world. Oddly, when we arrived in Singapore people were (and are!) confused as to why would would come. “So, why are you here exactly?”; “But there are already many Christian ministries on the campuses…”; “But, we are a sending church…we are who is sending missionaries out…” At times these questions were asked out of curiosity & genuine interest. However, more than once I felt that we seemed unnecessary to them. In other words, people were saying, “The Christians here are doing just fine, shouldn’t you be doing what you do somewhere more needy than here?” (Again, people didn’t say this so directly, but the confusion does make you wonder “why here” again)

After plenty of reflection, I believe that Singapore is indeed the place for us to be because of theological, personal, national, and global reasons.

Marina Bay

The undergirding reasons are theological. Just as Abraham left in Genesis 12, Jesus coming as a servant, like Phillip in Acts 8, or Paul traveling place to place – when God sends it is for a purpose. The place is not insignificant, the people are not insignificant, the cause is not insignificant. After a series of events and steps of obedience we landed in Singapore. God is sovereign and God is in control of chance (Proverbs 16:33). I fully believe that if we shouldn’t be in Singapore, then we wouldn’t be.

Next, we should be here for the sake of our own personal development. Singapore is  an excellent launching country. People can easily learn many cultures & languages that could prepare them to go on to somewhere else. Plus, Christianity is already established in Singapore. In fact, there are at least 600 churches in this little country! I am so thankful for an opportunity that doesn’t just make me give, give, give. I also receive countless life lessons, focused training, and knowledge during our stay here.

Further, having many establishments doesn’t mean less needy…just different needs. This country is excellent at first impressions – upon arriving it’s hard to see any issues at all! But, reality is there are still poor, lonely, and misguided people even here. According to Joshua Project there is quite a lot of work to be done in here! Not only in terms of spiritual needs, but also emotional needs. I’ve had the privilege of befriending students that have shared with me societal pressures they face, sexual abuse, broken family history, and doubts in God. I may not be able to meet a TON of needs in Singapore, but I can love a few people and meet needs such as leadership development, life-coaching, friendship, Bible study training, and teaching english. Also, what could I possible offer a developing country??? I have zero skills in medicine, agriculture, or architecture. But..that’s another topic. Financial prosperity does not solve the hurts here – in fact, it may perpetuate them – but love and kindness goes a long way.

worldwide

And lastly, seeking the good of this country ultimately multiplies the redemption that can happen worldwide. Like I said earlier, this is an excellent country for sending people out. A huge reason for this is also because of the high number of foreigners that stay here. The nations are in Singapore! No need to look far! If the people who move here experience a wondrous change in their life, then they will one day return to their home country and promote Christ & love there too.

Although Danny and I don’t intend on spending our life in Singapore, it’s not because it wouldn’t be well worth it. Most foreigners only pass through SG, because like I said, it prepares you for the rest of Asia quite well. Plus, the locals are established in the faith and able to evangelize & love their neighbors. However, it isn’t likely that 600 churches could care for all 5 million people! God has redeemed so much in this nation, but there are many lives in need of something beyond a materialistic or moral aspiration -they’re in need of eternal security & joy in Christ.

I’m glad to be here while God has me here. (Btw, It took me MONTHS to be able to say that!) In future posts, I’ll share more about our adjustment & accalamation to this lovely little country.

 

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God Values the Family

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Over the past few weeks God has been stirring in me a new value for the Family Unit. God started to solidify this value at Campus Outreach’s Christmas Conference in Jacksonville, FL. Two speakers briefly mentioned the family in their seminars.

Sandra Hearon spoke at the Women’s Rally on the topic of feminism. Using Deuteronomy 5:16 she explained that your family is who will still be around you when you’re old. She rebuked us softly in how we relate to our parents, siblings, and relatives. College students in America can focus so much on relationships with each other that we hardly fight to honor our family. And I thought to myself that the weak family relationships may be why even strong students of the faith struggle to walk with God so much after they graduate – they’re around people who hardly know them and visa verse. So, even if they have a desire to share and show Christ to their family, they can’t because their simply isn’t a common ground between them (if not even deeper unresolved family issues).

Then, Eric Mason gave a seminar that included different models of discipleship: (1)Air-strike -or classroom style, (2) Ground – or one-on-one discipleship, (3) The family, (4) Ministry teams, (5) a Christian community. When discussing the Family model he referred to Psalm 127 and recognized that this unit is the first ever discipleship community and is also the main place that discipleship takes place.

To, me this speaks VOLUMES. Here is what these truths should form in my life (and hopefully any Christian’s life):

1. I should take an active role in protecting the family unity because it is God’s plan for bringing redemption. With 1/2 marriages ending in divorces, with most people living together instead of choosing to be married, with pornography making its way into the family’s home, with promiscuity rampant amongst young singles, with fatherless homes, with gay rights activists uprooting the family design, with radical feminism destroying the value of selflessness, with the elderly not receiving visits or care from their children, with adultery, with grandparents raising grandchildren, abortion, and so on and so on…..ALL of this is a DIRECT offense to God’s plan of redemption through the family. So, find an organization to volunteer with, adopt a child, serve in the church nursery, babysit, receive church discipline, go to marriage counseling, have family meals together, be vulnerable and honest with your small group, consider homeschooling, develop a Christian worldview on these specific issues, etc. Find where you fit to help the family (not just your family).

2. I should aim to have a large family made up of many children! Psalm 127 says, “Behold children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children of one’s youth, Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Can you imagine being in battle with only 2 or 3 arrows? Children are meant to be sent out into the world to “make disciples of all nations.” The Muslim community knows this. Islam is the largest religion in the world right now and a huge reason for that is because they have HUGE families! Christians are too conservative…we want things too controlled…too systematic. I’m not guaranteed that each child will come to Christ and live for him – but I can pray for them, train them, and release them into the world trusting in God’s power and redemptive purpose being fulfilled through my family.

3. Following #2, if possible, we must marry young enough to have children! Obviously, we aren’t all going to be married, nor will we all be married in our 20’s. BUT if God has introduced you to your future spouse don’t postpone marriage until after you have all your junk together such as a house, financial investments, a nice car, a good career, and the ideal magazine wedding. Yes, be responsible – but live by faith and trust that two is better than one. Keep in mind that if God has called you to marry someone, you’re being disobedient by not getting married.

4. Make the most of family time. Don’t be content with being near each other (geographically) and not emotionally or relationally. Some ideas: Be thoughtful about how time is spent when family visits, cultivate family traditions (especially for holidays), have fun together, have father-daughter dates, start learning to talk on deeper levels than just business matters, be the first one to apologize and repent. I don’t know, look up some good ideas on Pinterest :).

I hope that no matter what age you are and no matter what your current relationship status says, that this post inspires you to care about the family. And thus, I hope that you ask the Lord how YOU can serve and protect not just your family, but all of God’s families.

 

 

Multiply Movement: Review of the Gathering

November 12, 2012 1 comment

WOW! Talk about being charged and strengthened. Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love, and David Platt, author of Radical, joined together over the past year to start a movement that spurs on disciple-making. This weekend they hosted their first conference or “Gathering” in Birmingham, AL and San Fransisco, CA. Danny and I had a couple people over both nights to hear about their vision with Multiply.

I want to urge everyone to scurry around their website. Their podcast will still be available for the next 30 days so sit back, listen, and and let the Spirit move you towards being a disciple-maker.

Highlights from the Seminar

I really just want to highlight some great points and quotes from the conference in hopes that it will challenge you to join in on disciple-making – no matter what phase of life you are in!

  • This movement is not anti-church or anti-small group, but if those things are not leading to making disciples; we’re missing the whole point!
  • Discipleship is not doing Bible studies with other Christians!
  • To be a disciple of Jesus and to make disciples of Jesus is a command from Jesus himself. It is a big deal to disobey a command of Jesus, for he has all authority.
  • We make disciples because Jesus has all authority and therefore He is worthy of each person’s worship & praise!
  • Problem: Pastors say it is their job to just teach their people to go share. While, the church says that it is the pastor’s job to share the gospel. We are in a cycle of disobedience and must lay excuses aside and realize that we are all responsible for the Great Commission being fulfilled!
  • We must have a mindset that we receive in order to reproduce.
  • Unity is an outcome from being on mission with other people.
  • “Why did GOD supernaturally put His Spirit into you? (Each believer literally has God’s power inside him, WHOA!) To sit in a pew? To attend a worship service?”
  • Final Challenge: Make a list of whoever is in your sphere of influence who does not know Jesus or does not have vision for disciple-making. Then, share the gospel with them all in a pursuit to make 1 disciple this year.

Personal Confessions

Dear Jesus,

The past two months I’ve been more proud of advertising discipleship than actually doing discipleship. Please, make me an authentic disciple-maker; one who pursues and loves people no matter what my context is. Yes, keep me faithful to the campus. But, lead me to my neighbors, family, and other regulars in the coffee shop! I want to be intentional, not passive; I want to be courageous, not fearful; I want to be like Jesus, not religious.  Lead me to making a constant effort by prayer, word, and deed to make disciples for Jesus all over the world.

In the Lord Jesus’ name,

Amen

Raising Financial Support for a Living: The Appointment, The BIG Ask, & Follow-Up Calls

October 5, 2012 2 comments

Okay, so you’ve gotten the right perspective about support raising & giving, you’ve written your letter (or received a letter), called (or have been called) and now it’s time for what you’ve been building up everything for: The Face-to-Face Meeting. Everything you have done has prepared you for this point. MAKE IT COUNT. This type of dedication is not just for the full-time missionary – students or people raising one-times gifts ought to apply a lot of this, too!

…side note: I feel weird posting these knowing that my supporters are reading it, too! Haha, I hope these posts show you how much we think about you as an individual and how greatly anyone you support desires your partnership!

Appointments= Sell Your Vision

Prepare well. Be professional. Be passionate. Hope this helps you do well with your meeting…

What to Bring:

  1. Presentation: We use a notebook that I made with PowerPoint. If you don’t like the notebook idea, you could use a website, video, or other form of presentation that clearly walks them through the Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How + images.
  2. Give-Away folder: You want to leave them with something! Our folder includes a pledge card with an addressed & stamped envelope, prayer requests, information sheet on Singapore, information sheet on the church we are serving, FAQ sheet, Newsletter, and work schedule. Lastly, we include this Getting to Know You Better sheet that they fill out and we keep for our records. We also use bright folders so that people don’t lose sight of it as easily (the theory is that they will remember us more too!).

This is usually what my Thursday’s before a support weekend look like:

First, I call or text to confirm our appointment. Then, I count how many people/families (not appointments!) we will  be meeting with. It can range from 3 people to 15 people in a given weekend. Then, I use my handy-dandy Target filing folder and see if I have enough of everything. If not, I easily see so and then go print out what I need (Usually, Kaitlyn in the CO office has me covered on all my copies though!!).

Then, I lay everything out like so…I suppose it’d be faster by laying them out on a table and walking around, but I like sitting in the floor (Just vacuum first!). Notice that I stamp the return envelopes for our pledge cards! Take little steps like this to serve them. They are serving you a lot!

And your final project should look something like this…Notice that to make it look more professional I try to keep a color scheme (Blues). I also face any images upward so that it looks nicer.

This is the presentation notebook that we use when we meet with people about Singapore…We include info about our job, our history w/discipleship, info about Singapore, our church, and a partnership page at the end. Keep it so that your presentation alone takes 10-30 minutes to go through.

Helpful Tips:

  • Focus on Individuals. Here’s a helpful article as to why, Churches or Individuals: Which Should You Focus On?
  • Block off 2 hour intervals for meetings (include travel time, etc)
  • Remember names & children
  • Excitement is contagious – people follow passionate people
  • Don’t get discouraged by questions – Inquiry means interest!
  • Sometimes the best answer is “I do not know, but will get back to you on that.”
  • Clearly ask for their commitment to partner with you.
  • Communicate thankfulness often
  • Send them a thank you card in the mail the day after you meet: This increases urgency and shows care.*Keep cards in your car and put it in the mailbox before even going inside your home!

***The Goal of this time, is a clear & confident “ASK”. That is why you are there. Do not leave the appointment until you have done so. ***

Therefore, the flow of conversation should move you to the reason you are there. If not, then transition by thanking them yourself. “Hey, thank you so much for being generous with your time and letting me come and share what God has called me to.” Share your presentation, and ask them something along the lines of (amount individually discerned), “Would you come on my support team with me at $100/month. How does that sound?” Then, shut your lips and wait for them to respond. It is so easy to panic at the silence and rush on to talking about something else. Don’t do that. Give them a moment to process your need and request. Hear what feedback they have for you first and then proceed to show them what they get to take home with them and that you’ll follow up with them in a week.

Scared of asking BIG? I recommend this article Asking BIG: Does it Offend or Affirm?.

The Big Ask & Extras:

  • Communicate your NEED and the DATE you are trusting God to meet! Be VERY clear with this.
  • When they start? ASAP. Have them support sooner than later (especially if you are raising monthly) so that you can build up for raising expenses, tickets, etc.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Give them a week to talk it over and pray if they are not sure about an amount by the end of the meeting.
  • Use Speaking opportunities as chances to get contacts, not supporters. (I suggest you have contact cards or a newsletter ready.)
  • Ask churches to come on at 15% of your budget.

***Refer to the first post in this series, https://therealcore.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/raising-financial-support-for-a-living-a-right-perspective/, under “Partnership” and see what commitments we ask of them and what commitments we promise them.

FAQ’s That You Should Know:

  1. What is my money going to pay for?
  2. Is it tax-deductible?
  3. How much do you need monthly?
  4. Is this a biblical method of support raising?
  5. Why are you asking for handout? Why don’t you get paid?
  6. How long is your commitment?
  7. Do you operate under the authority of a church?
  8. How do you differ from other ministries?
  9. If we miss a month of payments, will you have to go without?
  10. How will we keep in touch with you?

PURPOSE of Each Step:

Contact Letter= CALL

Phone Call = APPOINTMENT

Appointment= ASK

Follow-Up Phone Calls = Ask Them for a Decision

*It is your job to Initiate and their job to Respond.*

Do not let more than a week go by after an appointment before following up with a phone call. Ask, ” Has God given you clarity about joining my financial and prayer support team?” Walk through the process of mailing in the pledge card or making a donation online.

  • Do not leave messages, talk to people- keep calling.
  • Call people who have promised support, but haven’t actually pledged it. Simply ask, “Hey, I’ve just noticed that you haven’t pledged what you committed to. Would you like me to help walk you through how to donate online or is there a problem with the amount that we talked about?”

So many details, I know! But each person is worth every single step. After making all of these posts, I’m spotting all the ways that I don’t raise support well – But, at least I’m faithful with it! The final post I want to make for this series is on Support Preservation. Any requests for more posts on this series or future series?

~~~What has your experience in Support Meetings been like? What would you say are the top DO’s and DO NOT’s in a meeting??~~~

Raising Financial Support for a Living: Principles for the Giver

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Hey ya’ll! I hope you’re enjoying this series. I know most summer mission trips wont start being organized for a few more months, but hopefully this series will be all the more useful for everyone then, too! So far, I’ve discussed having a Right Perspective as to why missionaries should raise support. I also wrote about principles the fundraiser should know. So today, I am focusing on the one being asked to give financially to a mission opportunity. I hope that these principles help you devote your gifts, money, and prayers cheerfully to others.

A great little book about the joy of giving!

1. God owns it all. (Romans 11:36)

Meaning, every single thing you own belongs to the Father. You can have freedom to let go and give when you look at every penny in your purse, lamp in your house, towel in the closet, and say, “My Father gave this to me…and this..and this..and this…”  The truth that God owns all of it should simply give you a spirit of thankfulness and generosity.

2. Giving may be your spiritual gift. (Romans 8:4-8)

We have one supporter on our team who owns an oil company. He believes that one of his spiritual gifts is giving. So, he still owns and runs it. If he quit giving, he would quit owning it and do something else. We also have another supporter who shared about how hard it is for him to make friendships with people. He still pursues relationships and evangelism, but he has chosen to be a giver to those who do have the gift of being relational. That is his way of building up the Body of Christ. Every Christian is called to give and be generous in their heart, but maybe He has designed you to be the example of giving.

3. Supporting a missionary protects you from idolatry. (Matthew 10:24)

I love Tim Keller’s book, “Counterfeit Gods”. His chapter on Greed destroyed me! In it he states that out of every sin, no one would ever really consider themselves as greedy. He said this is because we tend to only compare ourselves to people in our “bracket”. Of course I don’t look greedy compared to the person who buys the name brand everything. But, compared to just about anyone else in the world my standard of living is like royalty! Yet, I always want something better. Being a supporter of a missionary (1) keeps your vision worldwide and (2) challenges you to sacrifice your comfort. For example, you could give (let’s say) $75/month to a missionary, instead of it going toward a new bedroom set, nicer clothes, gadgets, and whatever else captures your eye. The big idea is that giving patterns your life to being Kingdom Focused (Matt. 6:33).

4. Giving is to be an act of worship. (2 Cor. 9:11)

Worship is primarily why giving protects and frees you from idolatry. This is why Danny and I break up our monthly tithe into fourths so that we can worship during the offering each week. As a supporter, your giving is enabling the gospel to advance. When your missionary shares about how God has changed them or the people they are ministering to you can rejoice too! You played a huge role in that! It is always worshipful to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Step out on faith and send a missionary  –  then, be prepared to worship.

5. It is an eternal investment! (Matthew 24:14)

Whether it is sending a team to Ecuador for 2 weeks, sending a student to a training conference,  sending a couple to Singapore ;-), or funding the distribution of Bibles – you are giving waaayyy more than x amount of money. Souls and God’s Word are eternal matters. You are affecting not just what you know of from a newsletter. You’re impacting generations of people that will come loonnggg after your life! How amazing is that?!

6. You’re offering more than green paper. (3 John 8)

Be active with your missionaries. They need you far beyond finances. They need your wisdom, your prayers, and communication. They need to know that you are with them and haven’t forgotten about them. It is so easy to feel forgotten about when you send mass updates out and 1/60 people reply.  It’s also hard to pray over someone that you never hear from. Please, give financially so that they can be sent. But, continue to give yourself to them so that they can have a continual support system. They don’t view you as an ATM, and so don’t act as one. You have such a vital role – I wish I could better express how important you are to them!

Clearly, I don’t aim for the standard 5 or 10 points. Six is sufficient :). My prayer is that if you are in a position to support a missionary these truths will come to your mind and help you in discerning all of the ways in which you can commit to them and thus commit to the Great Commission.

Watch this clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4bGse2o3kY, about being a Go-er and a Send-er. Ironically, Piper uses the same verse that God wrecked me with in 2009 by calling me to reach the 10/40 window.

Coming Next: The How-To’s of Support Raising.

#1 Christianity is not so much about me and Jesus as it is about Christ and His Church

April 26, 2012 2 comments

The Enduring Community

I’m starting a series about 5 truths I’ve learned from doing ministry at VSU. I wish I had known them sooner, but I’m glad for the experiences that taught me these.

1. Christianity is not so much about me and Jesus as it is about Christ and his Church.

2. Worship is more about devotion than it is about emotion.

3. People do what they see, not what you say.

4. Focus on faithfulness, not on results.

5. The more holy you become, the less holy you’ll feel.

Something that I began to see a couple of years ago, but didn’t really live by until this past year is that Christ reconciled His Church – not just me and God! Yes, there is a uniqueness about our salvation, but far too often we lean way to much on the unity between us and God, and not enough on us and others. I’ve been partnering with other Christians in ministry for a few years and so I’ve been learning this through experiences. But also, this past semester my discipleship group has been studying Ephesians and reading the “The Enduring Community” together. Reading these has really developed my idea of the Church.

Why do we focus so much about us and God and so little on others?

There are a number of reasons for this. Probably some common responses to why we do this would be: relationships are messy, it requires lots of effort, they will see my sin, and it’s just easier not to pursue people. I think all of these reason narrow down to the problem of having a small vision and value for God’s people. If we really saw individuals as significant and valuable we would not only be involved in their lives, but we would be anxious for unity with our fellow brothers and sisters.

What exactly did Christ reconcile on the cross?

Hebrews 7: 25 tells us, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” The first thing we think of when someone asks what happened on the cross is that we have been reconciled to God. This is absolutely true. Yet, God is not the only one we were reconciled with. I used to think that Ephesians 2:13 which states, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” was only referring to our connection with God. However, after studying the context I found that the entire second half of the chapter is about our unity with fellow believers. This verse provides the transition from the hostility between the Gentiles and God being reconciled, and also the hostility between people being reconciled.  We have been brought near to each other and are no longer “Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Col. 3:11)”

How can we turn from division and become unified?

 In order to avoid division we must actively seek unity with other believers and be proactive in the upbuilding of the Body of Christ. Here are a few ways that if had been practiced more by both myself and others, lots of harmony would have been gained. All of them really boil down to one’s character.

1. Verbalize your thoughts in an understanding way: I cannot count the times that division has snuck into a fellowship simply because no one shared how they felt (at least to the person that they have concerns with). When I say “in an understanding way” I mean two things. First, to clearly articulate concerns. Second, to do so with gentleness and humility. I really believe most problems within the Church could be overcome through good communication.

2. Be quick to reconcile your relationships: Matthew 5 :23-24 states, “…if you are offering your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother , and then come and offer your gift.” The verse tells me that even if I am not the one harboring bitterness, it is my duty to reconcile my relationships. Another verse puts the responsibility on me and not someone else is Romans 12:18 which says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

3. Live sympathetically: Take on the feelings of another – relate with them. If many really have become ONE body then you are affected by the wellness of your brothers and sisters. Therefore, we must “mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice” we must serve one another and care tenderly for each other.

4. Value individuals: Appreciate people for who they are, not for how comfortable they make you feel. Every relationship is significant. John Piper once said that every person is made in the image of God, therefore everyone is interesting! Appreiciate people for their unique design and contribution to the whole Body.

I’ve had to face all of this while at VSU. Soon, I’ll be moving and I’m nervous because I will need to learn to practice this truth with people that I am not as used to and close with. However, Christ has reconciled the biggest gap of all: me and Him, therefore I know that He can unite me to others too.