Not Political: Real Change

You are not of this world. You are a citizen of no place but heaven, pledged to no one but Christ, placing no idol before your love for the Lord. Your destination is altogether different than what you see around you today. Your goals as a believer is not financial prosperity but riches in Christ. Your focus is not on a earthly kingdom but an eternal Kingdom. It’s all different when you are a follower of Jesus.

In case you hadn’t heard, we are in an election season (yes, that was tongue in cheek). Being in a swing state, I literally get a half dozen election ads in my home mail every day. To and from the church office, I drive by hundreds of political yard signs. All this along with the constant bombardment of television, radio, and webpage advertisements, and I think I’ve seen enough campaigning for at least, say, four years.

It’s easy to get caught up in election campaigning, having an emotional attachment to one candidate or another. As a pastor, I have purposely not stated my political preferences publicly. I don’t allow yard signs in my yard, and don’t participate in the election rhetoric on Twitter or Facebook. I must admit that at times it is tempting, but I have to remember that my loyalty to Christ overrides my loyalty to the politician I might love or loathe.

So what is my response? Okay, yes, I will be votiing, yet I am also doing something far more as a service for our country. I am sincerely praying for our country. I am praying that godliness and righteousness will reign, that love and truth will be advanced, and that holiness will stand as a witness to those who need Christ’s salvation. It’s not a prayer to advance pet political causes but instead it’s a prayer for a godly light to shine from God’s people.

This is a biblical concept. Paul tells Timothy clearly in 1 Tim 2 that God’s people should be praying for leaders, for people, and for an atmosphere for God’s people to live holy and peaceful lives. We are all called to do pray in thsi way, no matter who is in a position of leadership over us. We are called to pray for our leaders to rule in wisdom as God’s established government while we are here on earth (Rom 13:1-2).

So, join me in prayer. Pray for our land. Pray for our election. Pray for godly values to be proclaimed through His people. And as we pray, let’s see God glorified and His name magnified!

Devotional thought: Depending on God…

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. (Psalm 84:11 NLT)

Do you rely on God the Holy Spirit? I mean, do you really rely on Him, or is He a bit far off to you, someone that you can pray to but never see or hear from experientially? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that God is always going to answer with a lightning bolt or some other dramatic fashion- He can, but maybe not all the time. But what about one time? Have you seen and felt and enjoyed a fellowship with Him that the natural man cannot experience?

Truth is, we need God’s presence daily. We can’t get by without Him. Yet many of us go through life as Christians not fully realizing the Spirit’s power. So what do we do?

First, reassess your dependence on God. Are you truly depending on Him, or are you giving Him lip service while you try to take care of things on your own? God wants you to depend on Him for all things- spend time praying for ways to please Him, including praying for the fruits of the Spirit to be displayed through you to others.

Second, reassess your time with God. How much time are you spending with Him? Does it compare to the time you spend with your TV set? Or the time you spend with your favorite hobby or activity? Does God get the first fruits of your time, or is it just something you tack at the end of the day? Do you seek to take that time with God and make it a time of worship, or intimacy, or is it rushed, routine, or even dry? God wants this fellowship with you, so take the opportunity to spend it with Him.

Third, reexamine your perspective of God in the world. Is He giving you opportunities to join Him at work? Have you been passing the little things up? Have your prayers been self focused or Kingdom focused- are you seeking Him to empower you to please Him or to satisfy your own pleasures? God gives gifts to lift up and glorify His name, and will withhold no good thing to His servants so that they can glorify Him in the process.

Gospel presented, please pray

We had the chance to share about Jesus with several people today. One person asked about the Christian religion, so God opened a door for Teresa and I to share about the love of Jesus Christ. We had two more chances with others, and after leaving tracts for them to read, we let the local pastor know of who we shared with.

One young girl that we shared with told us that her father was sick and had liver problems. We had a tract giving a testimony of how God healed a woman who was sick. Hopefully she will give the tract to her father as promised and he will respond to the message included in the tract.

Please do pray for the gospel seed that was planted in the hearts of those we talked to. Pray for the father who is sick. Please also lift us up as we finish our time here in Nepal and head on the plane for Europe, and then home.

So blessed…

What a blessing it has been to teach these church leaders! As we entered our last day of teaching, we had plenty of questions on basic things related to church ministry. Questions about baptism, the Lord’s Supper, deacons, pastors, and various practices of ministry. The questions were very good and reflected the hunger that they all had for being obedient to the Word of God.

One big issue is the time that most pastors take in studying the Word each week. Many pastors get ready for their sermons the night before the worship, and this is due to the expectations that the churches have on their duties. Apparently, there is a much higher value in ministering to the needs of the people than the ministry of the Word. Throughout the week, I had the pleasure of sharing about the need for the pastors to be ministers of the Word first and prepare for their sermons. To do this, I explained, the deacons had to take some of the burden off of the pastors.

This is a very young church in Nepal. While in some countries Christianity has been around for hundreds or a thousand years, here it has only been in existence for less than thirty, with most baptist churches only in existence for ten years or less. We are at the cusp of Christian influence in Nepal and the need is great for resources to reach more people. Teresa and I are excited for what God is doing in Nepal.

Pray for these young churches and for the servants in Nepal. Pray for them as they endure persecutions and hardships. Pray for their growth in the Word and for our new friend, Subash Pradhan as he leads the churches here in so many wonderful ways to grow and to be faithful to the scriptures.

Major breakthrough!

Yesterday was the most exhausting, thrilling, exciting, and God glorifying day yet! The church leaders have been very, very responsive to the teachings on servant leadership, and I think that they are starting to get it. They are finding out how to practice this new idea for their culture (but not new for those in Christ).

We took a few minutes after lunch to share testimonies. I told about the story of my calling to ministry and how God spoke to me. The floodgates were then opened. One man talked about how he was saved but then backslid for ten years and was restored through the efforts of another pastor. Another man, an older servant in his church, stood up and talked about his testimony. It changed the environment in the room.

He told the story of how he was bit by a snake while he was sleeping. He has a little bit of swelling, but thought he was fine. After a few hours, his legs started swelling and his tongue started feeling numb. He was rushed to the hospital and was expected to die. His hearing went away as well as his sight. The man began to cry as he told about his last thoughts about Jesus. He prayed to Christ for his family and for healing. Suddenly, the numbness went away, the hearing regained, the sight restored. He was healed, and healed miraculously, and this older man has never stopped serving Jesus.

This is how the day went, as God healed and encouraged us all through His Spirit. He reminded them of their calling, and they in turn were ready for some very practical applications to ministry to be taught Wednesday and Thursday.

Please pray for the teaching time, that the men and one woman will understand and apply the teachings to these very young churches in Nepal. Pray especially for the spiritual warfare that is taking place here- it is major stuff and I hope to share more later. God is faithful and is working here!

A new day…

Today, we encountered a young man who had contact with cults in the countryside of Nepal. His doctrinal beliefs were weak to begin with, but the cults had caused even more confusion on basic essentials of the faith. Mr. Pradhan, our principal who also served as our translator, quickly helped answer questions in this young man, but I believe that some issues still remain in this young man’s mind.

We had a full day of teaching today on servant leadership. I spent the morning talking about examples of servant leadership in the bible, beginning with Jesus. It was a wonderful moment when I saw the responses of the students as we discussed the humility of Christ in dying for our sins. “While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us” (Rom 5:8).

Please pray for the young man who is confused, that he can get the essential doctrines sorted out in his mind. Please also pray for the teaching time tomorrow as we talk about the role of pastors, deacons, and ministry teams, and the huge importance that a good marriage has on the ministry. Pray that we can continue to cross cultural boundaries with our teaching as we adapt many principles to their culture. Most of all, pray that our mouths remain open to sharing Christ as we form relationships with people in the community around our hotel. We have made many contacts and will no doubt have some chances to share the gospel of Jesus with them.

To God be the glory!

Fran

An incredible God

Yesterday was filled with a journey to see the mountain peaks first thing in the morning, a time of preparation, and a teaching time to the church leaders.

I will tell you this: these leaders are passionate about the gospel, focused on Christ and His Kingdom, and ready to take on the gates of Hades as the church! They asked wonderful questions, gave great responses, and listened intently. So far, so good as we went through the Old Testament to see examples of leaders in the bible.

I also got to see and share with my wonderful church at home. How much I miss them! It was nice to have FaceTime available to share with them as they worshipped.

Please pray for the teaching time today as we share on servant leadership. Please also lift up the ones we talk to about Christ.

Preaching and teaching in Nepal…

Saturday morning worship (their normal worship day) here in Nepal was an “every tribe and tongue” moment. We came to worship at Pokhara Baptist Church not knowing the language or customs but knowing who they loved: Jesus with all their heart. The singing went on and on with heartfelt praise, even singing in Nepali the song “Seek Ye First.”

The church was filled with worshippers, about 100 of them. The pastor, who began the church only twenty years earlier, was deeply loved by his church and has done incredible things in Nepal through the power of the Holy Spirit. From this small church alone, at least seven new ones have been birthed with more being planned in the near future.

It was a pleasure to preach to this group of lovers of Christ on Saturday and to be able to teach leaders arriving from various places for the leadership classes on Sunday (today). It was even more awesome to see God at work in Nepal, and to be just a small part of the advancement of the gospel is a privilege and an honor. To God be the glory!

Day 4 (or something like that)

Okay, so somehow, some way, we lost a day. Call it the time zone thing, or traveling, or whatever, but we lost a day. I guess we got some time adjustments still to make sleep wise, but we will be fine.

On Thursday night as we arrived late at night in Kathmandu, we were met by large crowds of people trying to make a fast buck. Unfortunately, I paid someone much more than I should have for carrying our bags, but I was tired and wasn’t thinking. Oh well.

We got to our hotel after a wild and wacky trip through the streets of Kathmandu, all the while involving honking, turning, changing of lanes and the cutting off of other vehicles large and small. It was like Mr. Toad’s wild ride on steroids. Our contact for the school, Mr. Pradhan, met us with a wonderful smile and a welcoming spirit. Unfortunately, we miscalculated somehow and thought we had one day in Kathmandu to rest, but we had to get up the next morning at around 5:30 to catch the bus for Pokhara. We went to bed around midnight.

We both woke up at 2 am since our bodies still thought it was noon at home and decided to just get up and try to sleep on the bus later on. I somehow, someway caught the Reds vs. Giants game on live tv (yay!) but saw them lose (boo!). We had breakfast and caught a taxi to the bus stop. There, we saw lots more street vendors trying to make a quick buck as well as a tiny woman who said nothing but begged for money.

The 7 hour ride was the taxi ride the night before on steroids. I guess you could say that it was Mr. Toad’s ride on Bain juice (sorry if you don’t get my references but I did say I was tired!). However, the count of Nepal is absolutely gorgeous, and the mountains that we were able to glimpse at times were breathtaking. It was great to finally arrive in Pokhara and in our hotel.

Pokhara is a very warm and friendly city. I didn’t see as many of the scammers that were plentiful in Kathmandu, just people trying to earn a living. However, there are many, many people who have never heard the gospel. The multiple god worship is plentiful and there are many that worship nothing. Please pray for this mission as we begin Saturday morning with the preaching in the worship service at the baptist church here in Pokhara. Pray that we get some rest, that we adjust to the time changes, and that the contacts we have already made with merchants can result in opportunities to share Christ.

 

What a big world!!!

As we flew into Abu Dhabi on our way to Nepal, I got a new appreciation for the size and breadth of our planet. We went from Cincinnati to Chicago, then from Chicago to Abu Dhabi.

How we travelled there was unexpected. The flight went northeast through Canada, across the northern Atlantic north of Scotland, then entering Eastern Europe through Turkey, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf. Crazy route, but really cool to see on the map displayed on our in flight screens.

Oh and by the way, Etihad Airlines has outclassed any airline I have ever been on. Best I’ve ever seen and I was on the plane for almost 13 hours today.

I’m thankful for a big planet of many people of many ethnicities. So many people, so many to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ. However as people are reached, I look forward to the day when every tribe and tongue will praise Christ!