Journey into Nepal

Today begins a journey into a land that for me, is hard to imagine. Teresa and I will be heading to Nepal for a short term missions trip, teaching and sharing the love of Christ to pastors, church leaders, and anyone who can hear.

It’s a really long flight to get there. We fly out today and we don’t get to Nepal until Thursday night! Granted, they are 10 hours ahead, but still, that’s a whole lot of flying and waiting! Once we get accommodated to the city of Kathmandu, we will hop on a bus for a 6 hour ride to Pokhara. There, we will get to meet the lovely people as we teach on Christian leadership. I am also going to have the chance to preach in one of the local churches.

Please pray for this journey. I’m not worried about the safety and health thing, since I am secure in Christ, but pray for the mission we are setting out to do. Lift up this highly unreached people, the churches who need encouragement and the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that we speak the truth of the bible with boldness, that any and all who hear Jesus will come away finding out how to come to Jesus for eternal life. Last of all, pray that the mission will have a long term impact as church leaders grow in Christ and help others to grow.

Will try to update as Internet is available. Many blessings as you read this long neglected blog for the next two weeks or so.

In Christ Alone,

Fran

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What Does God Want?

So he went down and dipped  himself  seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:14 NASB)
An act of faith is all God wants. Naaman was a great yet dreaded Aramean general, a warrior, and a man who commanded thousands yet he needed to be healed from his leprosy. His simple servant girl knew the best for him: “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” Listening to good counsel, Naaman sought Elisha for help. Not even daring to go into the prophet’s house, he waited for a word from Elisha.
What he got was unexpected. “Go and wash in the Jordan river,” he was told, and after a short burst of indignation over this simple instruction, and after more counsel from his loyal servants, he did just that. God worked in an unexpected way to bring an extraordinary result- now isn’t that just God? God’s power was met by Naaman’s faith, and the healing began!
Today, God still performs miracles: He saves souls every day, changing lives and eternal destinations forever. It’s a simple gospel, one for all people. Do you have this gospel, have you received God’s Son, Jesus Christ? If you have not, you can change this today. If you have, then thank God for His miraculous gift of eternity!

One in Christ

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 NLT)
From the very beginning, God intended mankind to be unified under His Kingship. He has always wanted one people, a kingdom of priests, a people for His own possession. Sure, we may all look slightly different on the outside, but internally we are all one. After all, appearances are merely skin deep.
However, we do vary in our culture and family history, and this is often where conflict begins. We who are called by God have a God-sized task ahead of us: while the world has conflict over petty things, we in the church should be completely different. We are to be unified in Christ, unified through humility and gentleness, patience and love. This is a tough calling, yet this unity can happen if it comes through Jesus Christ.
Approach your week with an intentionality for humility. Look out for the needs of others, seek to please God and men first before yourself. As you take action on a truth worth knowing, maybe God will teach you something amazing about Himself to you. 

A devotional thought…

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalm 55:22 NASB)
We have a God who is loving and caring. The bible tells us that God loves the world (John 3:16), that He wishes for no one to perish (2 Peter 3:9), and that we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). If you are His, then He loves you and protects you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. In Him, you are saved, sealed, and set apart for His will and way.
What a wonderful truth this, one that should give you comfort! When you are burdened with pain, trials, or struggles, He sustains you. God the Holy Spirit provides a comfort and peace beyond any human understanding. While many in the world turn to many means of help, nothing can compare to the everlasting soothing of the waters of the Holy Spirit! Yes, you can cast your burdens upon Him- He is big enough, wise enough, and powerful enough to sustain you, and will never allow the righteous to be shaken!
This week, meditate on this verse and think about what this might mean for you as you go into this week.   
·         What burdens might you want to cast upon the Lord this week?
·         What other promises of God have encouraged you in the past?

5 Ways to make your Christmas more meaningful…

Over the years, our family has established some wonderful traditions in celebrating Christmas.  I look forward, for example, to Christmas Eve, when we as a family sit down and have a festive meal and enjoy one another’s company and love.  The next day, we wake up at dark-thirty (yes, we still do) and open presents with big smiles and happiness.  The rest of the morning, music plays in the background as we pray, eat breakfast, and enjoy the day the the Savior brought to us!

But in the midst of thinking about this, I have to ask myself: is it meaningful, really?  When I do think like this, I do a reset, and I rekindle some things that would make Christmas more meaningful and God honoring.  Here are some ideas that may help us both:
  1. Read Scripture at the Christmas meal. It’s a wonderful thing to take some time and read the Christmas story during your Christmas or Christmas Eve meal. There’s a really neat bible out there called The Merged Gospels in which you can read the entire Christmas story (and more!) from a combination of all of the gospels.
  2. Give thanks. As everyone gets thinking about the many things related to our traditions of Christmas, it would be a big help to bring everyone together to share how God has shown His love to us.  Let everyone share a bit (especially children), and take the time to be thankful. Word of warning: timing is everything!
  3. Pray together. Spend some time after the Scripture and sharing time to pray- pray for each other, but also pray that the message of Christmas may live beyond the moment, that the gospel goes forth.  
  4. Reflect alone. This can happen before, during or after Christmas, but one great way to reflect before Christmas is to use this idea: As you wrap presents for a person, stop and think about some of the memories that you have shared with this person and then pray for him or her.  Also, reflect on the love that God has shown to you.
  5. Give to missions. all around the world, missionaries are away from families and friends to spread the gospel. We spend large sums of money for Christmas gifts, but what about giving to Jesus’ mission?  Can you start with a gift that equals the amount of the largest gift you bought someone else?
I hope these tips help- to God be the glory and Merry Christmas to you!

Fran

NAMB, the SCBO, and Cooperative Missions

At First Baptist Church of Mt Healthy, we pray for and support cooperative missions, church planting, and the gospel work.  As a congregation, we have focused on doing more with less, squeezing every penny that we could to reach as many people as we can in the little time we have left on this earth.  We work hard to place the gospel at the forefront of every activity we do, whether it is to share Christ at a Block Party, hand out tracts at Trunk n Treat, or give away Bibles to anyone who needs one.  We are a solid, theologically conservative church, placing the message of God’s love to be preeminent while at the same time being willing to change the message in an attempt to reach more.

Though I became a Christian in the midst of the SBC Conservative Resurgence, I am indebted to those pastors and lay leaders who spoke out for the SBC to go back to its values involving Scripture.  I am proud to have attended a Southern Baptist Seminary, spending over nine years to receive a MDiv and a PhD.  I am thrilled for the renewed interest in church planting, seeing so many young men and women sacrifice all for the sake of the gospel in this venue.  When the Great Commission Report was passed by the SBC messengers, I was in support of change.  I saw bureaucracy, bloatedness, and ineffectiveness in some SBC entitites, and I saw the need for the SBC to do some radical things to end the decline within the convention.  I am equally joyful to be in Ohio, who as a frontier state, has done radical things for the gospel in the areas of church planting, outreach, and church strengthening.  This is why I am scratching my head about the proposed changes from the North American Mission Board (NAMB), led by Dr. Ezell.  The changes, mostly in terms of funding and structure, may impact our work adversely in Ohio, an unreached and unserved state.

Truth is, this just doesn’t make sense.  In Ohio, we have seen a sizable percentage of church plants succeed, plants that make up a large number of our total church number and of baptisms.  We have demonstrated a willingness to give and to sacrifice, devoting a significant part of our SCBO budget to church planting.  For example, our most effective ministries also center around reaching the lost in college campuses and community ministries, yet even now it is unknown if these ministries will be funded by NAMB beyond 2012.  Even more, though the Send North America strategy seems to be a wonderful attempt to reach cities in Ohio, details are sketchy and slow in coming.  All of this piled together makes for a confusing and frustrating experience in churches, associations, and the SCBO.

Is this the Great Commission Resurgence we talked about a few short years ago? So far, I think not, because there is little doubt that it has been disruptive. We in Ohio are going to vote on resolutions calling for change within NAMB, and I wholeheartedly support these resolutions that we will discuss.  It is shameful that we must do this, but we must, and I grieve that we have to do this rather than talk about the progress of our vision to reach 1 million people and 2020 churches in Ohio by the year 2020.  However, in the spirit of being constructive, and to show that not everything that NAMB has done has been off base, I am recommending seven changes to NAMB’s methods regarding the state of Ohio to help us reach more souls for Christ:

  1. Continue to emphasis church planting.  Church planting is the lifeblood of our gospel work- if we do not plant churches we will die.  Fund planters and fund our state planting directors- currently, NAMB is proposing to cut this for 2013 (a very strange move indeed).  Put your money where your mouth is. 
  2. Reaffirm commitment to State Conventions. Okay, let’s be honest about this. Dr. Ezell, I love you, brother, but the perception is that you did not had a good track record on State Convention support when you were in Kentucky.  You claim to support state conventions, but the latest cuts in funding while wanting an increase in funding from conventions (a 50/50 split in CP) over a very short period of time communicates otherwise.  You need to reaffirm your commitment to the conventions in a real way, working with executive directors such as our well loved Dr. Kwok, and understand them before seeking to be understood.  Not doing this may mean disastrous consequences for relations with NAMB and for the gospel work.
  3. Open more dialogue with our associations, pastors, and SCBO personnel. One-way communication rarely works in any setting, and in Baptist settings, it doesn’t work at all.  Right now, there is a great deal of mistrust as to the intentions of NAMB toward associational and state convention work.  Having open dialogues with knowledgeable representatives from NAMB will help.  The days of shoulder shrugs and statements of “I don’t know” for most every answer need to be over, and NAMB reps need to be better informed and empowered to give straight answers to difficult questions. 
  4. Respect associational and state autonomy. Associations and state conventions are voluntary, autonomous fellowships of churches.  Rather than forcing the hand of these groups to change through finances and job descriptions, work with member churches to help come up with simple, logical solutions to achieve a common goal: use less money for administration and more for direct gospel work.  For example, in Cincinnati, it could be argued that we have four associations inefficiently overlapping this area, but NAMB and the SCBO can be a catalyst to help make change in this area rather than force the change financially.  
  5. Reach our college campuses. An influx of college aged students in a church has been a huge blessing for us at FBC Mt. Healthy.  Most churches would be more than thrilled to have them.  Without collegiate ministries, we would have little to no presence at college campuses.  If we are serious about the Great Commission and reaching the lost, why would we ignore campuses that often have the population of small cities?  There’s a serious disconnect here.  
  6. Remember the poor. We have a great deal of talk about the gospel, but we are commanded to share verbally and care physically.  Funding the church and community missionaries will help churches be reminded of the need to meet physical needs while sharing the eternal truth of Jesus Christ.  In fact, as a pastor of a ever changing and multicultural church in Cincinnati, we have little to no hope of reaching more people in the cities unless we show them that we care.  
  7. Be clear on Send North America. Most people haven’t heard about it. If they have, they don’t know details.  Why?  Because the concept either hasn’t been fully developed or fully explained.  Tell us what you want to do, and I think we as gospel focused churches will want to partner in it, but we need to have clarity.
NAMB, we are indeed brothers and sisters in Christ.  We share a common bond in our Savior, having been redeemed by His blood.  We are not competitors, adversaries, or estranged relatives- we are part of a close family, meant to reach the lost and make disciples of all people.  Do not confuse my own  intentions- I want, I beg you: cooperate with us in Ohio!  
I know that I am only one pastor, often overlooked by many in the SBC leadership as my church is not large.  I also know that my advise can easily be dismissed.  However, I care too much for souls to be silent.  I fear for our Cooperative Program and our future missions work with this present course of action from NAMB.  As a result, I humbly call on NAMB to consider these changes to work with us in Ohio so we can do the Great Commission together.  We are better together as we obey our Lord’s command!
Your brother in Christ,
Dr. Francis Trascritti
First Baptist Church of Mt Healthy

Here we go again- why the world will not end on Oct 21st

Camping’s site: What Happened on May 21st?

Harold Camping

My reaction: I do not know the date or the time for the end of the world, but I know when it will not end: Oct 21st.  Pretty cocky, am I?  Maybe a bit, but I think I am on pretty solid ground in saying this.

Harold Camping, the radio preacher for Family Radio, predicted the judgment day for May 21, 2011.  When May 21 rolled around and nothing apparent occurred, many of his supporters were confused.  His explanation: May 21st marked the beginning of the end, and the end of the end will occur on Oct 21st.  Confused?  Well, for the past five months, according to Camping, the world has been under final judgment, “shaken with fear” in an emotional and spiritual earthquake  that commenced on May 21 and will end on October 21 with the rapture of the elect.  Since that time, again, according to Camping, there has been no new salvations, nor will there be.  What is done is done.

So is this true?  Have preachers been preaching all summer long for no reason?  Have we had Vacation Bible Schools with no true fruit?  Has the baptismal waters been for nothing?  Not at all.  Camping is speaking complete rubbish.  He is a false prophet in the truest sense of the word, and to his shame, is leading his followers astray.

The Scriptures speak clearly that we will not know the day nor the hour, not even the Son (Mt 24:46, Acts 1:7).  Camping has acknowledged this to be true, yet goes on to state in an extrabiblical “revelation” that this all changed thirty five years ago- he can place a time on Judgment Day.  Really?  Camping now has new revelation?  Are we to believe him?

There are several reasons why we should not believe Camping.  First, no one who speaks for God should ever, ever contradict the Scriptures.  Revelation is found in the Bible, not in the whims of a man.  Second, God will not give His glory to any man, and He will not allow Camping to receive the glory for correctly predicting a date.  It is the Triune God that receives the glory, and when we see Jesus next, He will be gloriously riding in from the clouds as the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16).  Third, context matters.  Camping has taken Scripture out of context, such as using Rev 22:10-12 to justify the reason for the delay in the rapture.  He used Gen 2:7 to reason that earthquake can also mean “mankind shakes,” well out of context of the intent of the account of the creation of Adam.  These are serious errors in thinking, and no serious biblical scholar gives him credibility.

So, will when Judgment Day occur?  I know when it won’t.  It won’t be Oct 21. Instead, I look forward to the day my Father decides it to be, in His own perfect timing, not Camping’s timing.  In the meantime, we have work to do for Christ, so let’s get back to business sharing the gospel, as the fields are ripe for harvest.

Fran

Ministry 101

This week was a wonderful, incredible, week.  We had 110-120 children each day enjoying crafts, music, food, games, and most of all, the life changing message of the gospel.  We rubbed elbows with parents and grandparents from the community, hugged crying kids who had mini “crises,” and loved on each and every child who walked through the door.

We all experienced what God desires for His church: that every tribe and tongue will praise Him (Rev 7:9-10), that people may see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven (Mt 5:16), and that we were one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph 4:4-5).  We saw children come to Christ, workers overwhelmed with joy, and very difficult goodbyes at the end of the week.

It was, in so many ways, a course in Ministry 101.  We got back to the basics and thrived in it.  We discarded the VBS in a box, pushing aside the polished slogans or graphics to play off of- we ran straight for the gospel of Christ.  We kept it simple and flexible.  For example, when a child had difficulties adjusting to one class, we moved him or her somewhere else.  Or when a youth worker (junior helper) needed a place to serve, we gave them a mentor to shadow.  It was always focused, even laser focused on making disciples, and we stayed on task as we began to serve and share Christ!

I will never forget this week and our unity in doing God’s good work.  I pray that this week will change FBC Mt Healthy forever as we learned so much about ourselves, our community and our future.  I can see that we are fast becoming a church of many faces, to become a shining example as a mosaic of many ethnicities, different that the world around us.  For this, I am very grateful and humbled that I am able to witness firsthand God’s work in us.  It is very exciting!

Pray for the work to continue.  Pray that we continue to glorify God by bringing more to our Sunday ministries, making many new disciples for Christ!

Fran

A Firm Foundation

This week, I lost my dad, but the Lord gained a faithful servant in Heaven.  My dad was a man who would light up a room whenever he entered it.  He was a successful businessman throughout his life and worked hard in every way.  However, none of that mattered for him once he met Jesus almost 27 years ago.  Once he came to know Christ, he was never the same again.


As I work on my sermon for this Sunday, some things I wrote earlier in the week (and prior to dad’s passing) have become more clear today.  We are studying some important principles that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth almost 2000 years ago. The words of Paul ring very clear for me as I fondly remember my father’s life: all we do, all we accomplish must be built on a foundation of Christ. We must hold to certain values, and we must not veer to the right or to the left, because when we stand firm on that strong foundation, the gates of Hell cannot even stand against it.  

Today I write knowing that Hell has been conquered for one more soul. Death is overcome by Jesus, and my dad is experiencing a joy of God’s grace we can’t even describe. May we listen, follow, and hold on to God’s love and truth, and may we fight the good fight for Jesus!  Soli deo Gloria

The mind of Christ

1 Cor 2:16, “For, ‘Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?’ But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.”


What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?  When one studies, he must focus on being transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit.  When one meditates, he should look to be filled by the truths applied rather than just emptying himself.  When one prays, he needs to pray with the realization that he is at the feet of God, ready for the power of the Almighty to change whatever events seem impossible.  This is the mind of Christ. The mind that is aligned with God makes it about Him in all things. The mind that focuses on the King focuses on His Kingdom.  The mind that eagerly awaits His work awaits His will to be done in His timing, His way, all for His glory. 


When we as sinful, impatient humans feel that God didn’t do things the way we expected, we miss the point.  A person with the mind of Christ shouldn’t concern himself with such petty things- these are the concerns of God.  Ultimately, God will receive the glory, and we will be in awe when He works.


What are you concerned about today?  Are you upset about your current place in life?  Put on the mind of Christ, because God always knows better.  Trust Him, walk with Him, and allow God to change your perspective!

Helping God's church make disciples

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