This last week and a half have been challenging. I’ve been in and out of the hospital trying to get to the bottom of some significant stomach pain. Not exactly how one would expect a post about joy to begin, but I’ve discovered some things (or been reminded of some things) throughout this process that I wanted to jot down (this is being written on my phone so there might be some typos). Let me start with a few basic things to set the stage.
This year for VBS I wrote our teaching curriculum and created it in a way that can be used by parents in conjunction with an amazing kids book to help them see the story of the gospel. The book was recommended to me by a friend of mine when we found out we were having our first child and we have almost worn it out. The curriculum is really designed to be a discussion guide for parents that can help them engage their children with the story of the book... which is the story of redemption. You can find a link to the PDF here, but I've included everything below. I hope this is a help to you.
Yesterday, I returned from my third trip overseas to train pastors with Training Leaders International. This latest trip was to Mongolia where we served pastors and church leaders there by teaching the story of the Bible. Prior to this trip, I have taught hermeneutics (Bible interpretation) in Romania and preaching and sermon prep in Uganda. Each trip has been unique, but there has been at least one thing that has been common to each one, namely, I was a foreigner.
Well, it's that time of the year. Time for certain Christians to rise up and start freaking out about every little thing. From Halloween through Easter, we have to deal with all sorts of garbage; from "if you take your children trick or treating you're worshiping Satan" to "Easter and Christmas are pagan and therefore should not be celebrated". I promise you... this is not that. I've just seen some posts on social media and articles that have caused me to think. One of the things I've noticed is my generation of parents (I'm 35) tend to question and think through a different lens. It can be a difficult lens to understand and if someone hears "we don't do the Santa thing," it is easy to jump to the conclusion that they are just killjoys. Well, we don't do Santa in our house and since it's that time of year for all the Christian Crusaders to come out, I thought I would contribute a sensible and non-agressive explanation for why we made the decision to NOT do the Santa thing. 'Tis the season. So here are the main 2 reasons we don't do Santa in our house.
What I learned from not wanting to do FCA at the Middle School.
- Affections drive actions. We forget why we do things or our affections try to keep us from doing things.
- 4 ways to combat this:
1) Increased love for God
2) Increased love for others
3) Pray and ask for God's help with your affections/attitude
4) Take a step of faith
Here is the video:
I decided to create some videos to help orient people to Training Leaders International, share why I'm partnering with them, and tell some stories from past trips. My goal in this is to show, rather than just tell, why I'm taking trips to train pastors around the world. You can find out more by visiting my support page, and you can check out some info on my next trip to Mongolia in Feb 2019. You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel to get updates when new videos are posted.
Yesterday, I wrote on Jesus' plan to reach the world and argued briefly that the primary way that Christ continued his work is through the church and most of his ministry was devoted to training men to care for the church and train leaders for the church. In other words, Christ trained men to care for and equip the local church and their training was a model that could be (and was) reproduced within the church as a means of growth. As leaders care for the church well and equip the saints (Eph 4:11-12), the gospel spreads. As the gospel spreads, more churches are planted and grow. As that happens, more leaders are necessary to equip those churches and the way those leaders are trained is through the local church and in particular, pastors who have been trained (2 Tim 2:2). I suggested that we can have a tremendous impact through intentionally investing in developing, training, and equipping leaders both at home in our local churches and abroad. I also mentioned that the American church has two particular strengths and suggested that as we think about missions, we need to play to our strengths. So what are these strengths?
Think of the way that Jesus planned to impact the world after he accomplished his work. It's incredibly simple, and he devoted his whole ministry to it. The way Jesus planned to keep the work going is through specific, called men that he spent years equipping and preparing. That is amazing to me. Jesus spent time with his disciples, preparing them to be able to carry on his work once he eventually left earth to be with the Father. It wasn't trendy or super creative. It was simple and was able to be replicated. Train men to care for the people. Train men to train men. Equip pastors who can equip the saints. I would suggest that nothing has changed. That is still the plan. The question is what does that look like today?
This week, I am focusing on some Black Friday deals I found. Enjoy.
Jon is husband to Carlee, Papa to Finleigh and Ainsley, a pastor at Arbor Drive Community Church in York, Ne, and co-host of The Pastor Discussions Podcast