Monday, June 30, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grateful for Jason Ruzek's Sermon

This morning at Glory of Christ Fellowship, Jason Ruzek brought a message from Proverbs 5:21-6:5 entitled, "When is wisdom about money, not just about money?" Point being that in the Bible, wisdom about money is never just about money. In fact, it's not mainly about money. He said so many things along the way that really touched and ministered to me, and I'll probably blog about that later. For now, I just want to give you the link to the message and encourage you to listen to it.

You can access the sermon here. May the Lord bless you as you listen to the preaching of his Word.

And thanks, Jason, for an insightful and practically helpful message.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rejoice in Suffering - Are You Serious?

Yes, I’m serious. Well, more importantly, the Bible is serious. It’s not that God makes a virtue of suffering itself, but that he uses our trials for such glorious purposes that we can rejoice in the midst of the pain. Truly rejoice. I know this must sound crazy, but please consider the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-5.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
The ability to have true joy in the midst of suffering doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s founded on something much deeper than itself, and more eternal than the trials it endures. Specifically, it’s founded on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and what he’s done to give us eternal life.
First, Paul says that those who believe in Jesus have been justified by faith in Jesus, and therefore we have peace with God through him. To be justified means to be forgiven of all our sins, and to be declared perfectly and eternally righteous in the sight of God. This is what it means to have peace with God, and indeed, this is what Jesus grants to all who put their hope in him! Because this is so, the Christian knows that the greatest issues of life are settled for him or her. The storms of life can blow, the waves can rise and fall, but our standing with God cannot be threatened because of the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, Paul tells us that those who believe in Jesus have obtained access to the grace of God which causes us to stand, and therefore we rejoice in the unshakable hope of the glory of God. Those who cling to Christ know that nothing can threaten our lives. We know that we have a hope that cannot be shaken or taken. As Paul says a little later in Romans, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This hope is the ever-flowing fountain of joy for all who believe.
Third, because these things are true, those who believe in Jesus can actually rejoice in our sufferings. Anyone can take joy in things that are inherently joyful, but Christian joy is so high and deep and broad and wide, it’s so strong and stable and unbendable and immovable, that Christians can actually rejoice in things that are not inherently joyful. In fact, we can rejoice in things that make many people bitter toward God and others.
And we rejoice, not merely because we know that one day our sufferings will pass away, but because we know that God uses them to develop our endurance, character, and hope. In other words, Christians are able to rejoice in suffering because they trust in Jesus. We know he’s in control. We know he’s working all things together for his glory and our good. We know that through it all we’ll be shaped into his very image.
We know that we’re being given an unshakable hope because the love of God in Christ has been lavished upon us, and times of suffering only serve to show that this is true.
So yes, I’m serious. And more importantly, the Bible is serious. We can learn to rejoice in our sufferings through simple faith in Christ, and therefore I pray that we will cling to him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

Are You Content with what You Have? I'm Not

The Apostle Paul once wrote, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8). Do you share Paul’s point of view on money, possessions, and contentment? I would like to answer “yes,” but if I’m being honest I have to say “no.” I really want to be in the place where I can take Paul’s words as my own and speak them with joy, but the truth is that I still have some growing to do.

It’s 9:30 p.m. I’m at the Mumbai International Airport on the west coast of India. I’ve just arrived after twenty-eight hours of travel, and I’m making my way from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal. It’s a huge airport and a long journey. The bus finally arrives after about thirty minutes, and I disembark, make my way through customs and security, and begin the search for a foreign currency exchange where I can convert my dollars into rupees.

I find the booth easy enough, but I can tell from a distance that it’s closed for the night. I’m a little disappointed because my internal clock is on American time, and I want to get a snack and a drink so that I can sit and work for the next six hours until my flight to Hyderabad departs. But it is what it is, so I approach the booth to check the exchange rate and the hours of operation. The exchange rate is plain to see, but the hours are written in Hindi so I’ll just have to wait and see on that one!

As I turn to walk away, I catch some movement out of the corner of my eye. I look down to see what it is, and wow, it’s the booth attendant. He’s lying on the hard floor, curled up, and trying to get some sleep for the night. This isn’t something I’d see at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport! As my friend Ethan Larson later said, “Americans have home-offices but some in the third world have office-homes.” That’s funny, but in the moment I feel sorry for the man. I take a seat some twenty feet away from his resting place and begin to ponder the differences between his life and mine.

This is the fourth time I’ve been to India, and over the last five years I’ve logged over 200 hours of research on this ancient and important country. So I know that given his broader social context, this man probably has it good. He’s probably much better off than most in the vast city of Mumbai, and indeed the country. He’s probably not as sad as I am about his working and living situation, but I don’t know. I just know that the thought of him trying to sleep on that hard floor has really got me thinking about my luxurious home and the many comforts I enjoy and take for granted.

Four hours have passed by now. I’ve been reading a very good book and making notes on this and that. The attendant wakes up, opens the booth, and greets me with a broad and sincere smile. He looks refreshed, and he’s very kind and helpful to me. He even gives me a favorable exchange rate, as far as airport exchange booths go.

I’m glad that I’m finally able to get a drink and a snack, and after doing so I walk to my gate, board my next flight, and wait for the plane to depart for Hyderabad. But I can’t stop thinking about this man. I’ve been to second and third world countries many times over the years, so it’s not like this is a new experience for me. But something about the unexpected way in which I encountered him has gripped my heart. I was trying to get some spendable cash to meet my fleshly desires. He was trying to get a little sleep on a rock-hard floor.

I honestly don’t know what to think about his circumstances, so I decide to pray for him and set my mind to being more grateful for my own. I take so many small and large graces for granted. I’m so quick to inwardly pout or outwardly complain when various conveniences or desires are interrupted, threatened, or taken away. So I pray and ask the Lord to use this experience to teach me to embrace Paul’s words with all of my heart: “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).

I long to be happy with nothing more, or less, than Jesus. Indeed, we who believe in Jesus have received grace without measure and all the riches that reside in him, so what more do we need? If we were to lose all of our material possessions, we would still possess all things in Christ. Therefore, we, above all others, should be content in this world whether in riches or in poverty, in sickness or in health, in life or in death.

Lord Jesus, thank you for this man. Please provide for him. And please help us to see and feel and say with joy in our hearts, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Freedom in Christ

Oh how life-giving this paragraph has been to my soul this morning: 

"Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts [they're unable to see the glory of the law of God because of their sin, even if that law is written on the heart and not the page]. BUT when one turns to the Lord [Jesus], the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:15-18). 

Jesus grants us freedom to see, freedom to be, freedom to choose life in him - he grants us true freedom! And this is not because we deserve it, indeed, "this comes from the Lord." It's pure grace. Oh that we would have hearts today to turn from the sin that enslaves us and turn toward the Savior who frees us! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pursuing Health for the Glory of God

I'm sitting in my dining room looking at a painting of Venice, Italy. I was there a few years ago, and though the painting is set about 150 years before I stood in that place, modern Venice looks much the same. I actually recognize the three cathedrals in the painting as well as some of the other structures. 

Being an American, the longevity of the Venecian culture is inspiring to me but as I think about it a little more deeply, I can't help but come to the conclusion that all earthly glory fades – eventually. At one time the Italians were so powerful and influential around the world but now their glory has largely faded on the world scene and people visit Italy to see what used to be. They visit it as one would a museum. It is essentially a nation-sized monument to a glory that has faded away. 

And all earthly glory is like this. It fades away. It may seem powerful and inspiring and immovable and worth giving ourselves to for a time, but in the end it will fade away just like a flower or a vapor or a blade of grass. 

Now, when it comes to the pursuit of health, we must be careful and search our hearts to ensure that we're pursuing it for the right reasons – reasons that will last, reasons whose glory will not fade away. And what would those reasons be? Achieving a particular weight? Being able to fit into a pair of pants or, for the ladies, a dress? Looking good in swimming attire? Fitting in with a certain crowd? Being able to lift a certain weight or complete a certain number of repetitions of a certain exercise? Being able to run or ride or climb fast or long, or to accomplish any athletic goal? 

It seems patently obvious to me that the glory of all such things will fade away, and fade away fast. If we're pursuing health to achieve these ends we will be sorely disappointed and our end will be no better than our beginning. 

Therefore, as I reflect on these things it seems to me that the only glory that will never fade away – that CAN never fade away – is the glory of God expressed in his purposes. This is why Jesus taught us that the most important commandment of all is this: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. You shall LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And the second is like it: You shall LOVE your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:28-34). 

In other words, he was saying, "Spend your life pursuing the only thing worth pursuing and pursue this thing in everything else you do – namely, God himself, the eternal one.” 

So the only motive for pursuing health that will not fade away is the passion to love God more by caring for that which he has entrusted to us, namely, our bodies. If my pursuit of health is essentially the pursuit of the glory of God, I will not be disappointed because God's glory will never fade away. As David said in Psalm 16:11, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." – that is, pleasures that will never fade away. 

So I invite you to search your heart with me and think deeply about WHY you're pursuing health. Will the things you're pursuing last or will they fade away? Why spend your life running after things that will undoubtedly fade away? Why not pursue God in all things since God and his purposes will never fade away?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why My Blog is Called "Born of the Word"

Every so often I re-post a post I wrote in 2006 about why I named this blog “Born of the Word.” Since I’ve recently decided to fire this blog back up, and since I’ve just given it a facelift, I thought it might be good to re-post it again. I have updated it a bit, but the sum and substance of what follows remains the same as it was eight years ago.

I took the name “Born of the Word” from the 1528 document entitled, The Ten Conclusions of Berne. It was written by the Swiss reformers Berthold Haller, Francis Kold, and Ulrich Zwingli. Here is the full text of the first of their conclusions:

“The holy Christian Church, whose only Head is Christ, is born of the Word of God, and abides in the same, and listens not to the voice of a stranger” (Creeds of the Church, John H. Leith, ed., John Knox Press, 1982, pg. 129). This sentence sets my heart to worship for at least three reasons.

First, I came to believe in Jesus Christ as I read a little letter of the Bible entitled “1 John.” First John 1:5-6 and 3:4-10 in particular pierced my heart. John wrote, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth…

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

Since I came to know Jesus while reading these precious words, since I was “born of the Word,” the theological formulation of the Ten Conclusions of Berne is more than a formulation to me. It is a concise description of my life’s story, and therefore it sets my heart to worship!

Second, my life in Christ has ever been sustained and nourished by the Word of God. In fact, when the Word has been more prominent, the growth has been more pronounced. For instance, I will never be able to express how these words from Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5 spoke me when my mother died and it seemed that my world had fallen apart: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Or how these words put a foundation under my feet in the midst of a severe intellectual crisis: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Or how Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:20 have humbled and emboldened me in the fires of church planting: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Indeed, my journals testify abundantly to the fact that, by the mercies of God, I have been sustained and nourished by the Word of God in triumph and trial, in health and sickness, in strength and weakness. And this sets my heart to worship!

Finally, I love living in that truth that “The holy Christian Church…listens not to the voice of a stranger.” Consider the wisdom expressed in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

A few years ago I spent a week with a group of church planters in Dallas, Texas. During a “paradigm stretching exercise,” a few of the pastors expressed that they would love to expose their church planting protégés to the greatest leaders in the world, one of whom was Donald Trump.

I must admit that I did not handle myself as well as I could have in that moment, but rather blurted out, “Who in the world is Donald Trump when we have access to God Almighty, through Jesus Christ?” I cannot imagine Jesus or the apostles or the early church consulting the likes of Donald Trump concerning corporate growth or leadership development.

There is great joy and freedom and power in forsaking the wisdom and ways of the world in favor of the wisdom and ways of God, and therefore I delight to embrace the language and spirit of the early reformers: “The holy Christian Church…listens not to the voice of a stranger.” And this truth sets my heart to worship!

My hope for this lengthy explanation is not primarily that you’ll understand why I named this blog “Born of the Word,” but that your heart will, like mine, be set to worship as you ponder the mercies and wisdom and power of God displayed in his Word. May the Lord grant the desire of my heart!

With hope and joy in Jesus alone,
Charlie 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Exercise and the Glory of Christ

In an article entitled “Your Brain on Bicycling” (Bicyling, March 2014), Selene Yeager argues that exercise stimulates the brain so that 30-60 minutes of activity at a medium-to-high intensity measurably boosts concentration, memory, reasoning, and planning. For her, the ideal daily pattern is to ride, work, ride, and work.

She writes, “Exercise is like fertilizer for your brain. All those hours spent turning your cranks create rich capillary beds not only in your quads and glutes, but also in your gray matter…When you pedal, you also force, more nerve cells to fire. As those nerves light up, they intensify the creation of proteins like brain deprived neurotropic factor (BDNF), and a compound called noggin (yes, really), which promotes the formation of brain cells. The result: you double or triple the production of neurons…You also release neurotransmitters (the messengers in your brain cells) so all those cells, new and old, can communicate with each other for faster functioning” (40-41).

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that more exercise is better. Studies have shown that 30-60 minutes of continuous activity is optimal, and that more than this actually reduces short-term brain function because the body and brain need to recover from the activity. To be sure, longer periods of exercise provide their own benefits, however, if you’re looking for more energy in the middle of the day, go for the 30 minute option rather than the 120 minute option.

As I processed Yeager’s article in light of the Bible, I had a few insights I thought might be worth sharing with you. First, God made each person to be a body-mind-soul unity. There are valid distinctions to be made between these three, but there is no division. Like God who is three persons and one God, we are body-mind-soul and one person.

Second, this means that while we should heed Paul’s words to Timothy, we should not take them to mean that there’s no place for regular exercise in the Christian life. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Paul is not hereby dismissing the benefit, or necessity, of physical exercise, rather, he is challenging the ultimacy of it. That is, when exercise or fitness or appearance is our main goal, we have slipped from stewardship into idolatry, and of this we must repent. God has designed us so that when he is our ultimate treasure, we are free to pursue other necessities and pleasures within the bounds of his wisdom.

So keeping Paul’s helpful counsel in mind, as well as the latest scientific discoveries, we should utilize physical exercise to stimulate our mental powers. Then we should use these powers, in some way or other, for the glory of Christ and the good of others. In this way, exercise becomes a means to the end of the glorifying God rather than a means to the end of idolatry. It becomes a means of joy rather than distraction or frustration. 

So for me, I think the best daily plan is to exercise in the morning and then in the early afternoon. I like Yeager’s pattern of ride, work, ride, work. Of course, this isn’t always practical, but when it is, this would be most helpful for me.

How about you? Do you see exercise as important? Why or why not?

How does it fit in with your life in Christ?

How will you use exercise to the maximum effect for the glory of Christ?

What are the roadblocks to regular exercise in your life? How can you overcome them?

On My Trip to India, Part 5

As most of you know, I traveled to Ventrapragada, India from May 5-16 to be part of a team that taught (and learned from) Indian Pastors and those training to be pastors. The team was sent by the Treasuring Christ Together Network (our family of churches) to serve an Indian ministry called Reach All Nations (RAN). This week I would like to share with you about my time of ministry at RAN’s Bible School.
My primary responsibility at RAN was to teach expository preaching. I was able to spend sixteen hours of formal instruction with the students, and many more hours engaging in ministry and playing cricket! In our classroom time I (1) tried to persuade students that carefully preaching through books of the Bible best honors the Word of God, (2) presented a seven-step method for developing expository sermons, and (3) helped the students develop two full sermons from the gospel of Mark. 
I was surprised to learn that not one of the staff or students knew an Indian pastor who had led his congregation through a book of the Bible. Therefore, I carefully affirmed the ministries of the pastors they knew and loved, while gently suggesting that there might be a better way to honor the Word of God in the life of the church.
The Lord granted me much success in this endeavor. As we completed the first sermon, I could see the lights turning on for one student after another, and then the Lord opened a door for me to preach at an evangelistic outreach. I decided to deliver the sermon that the students had developed, and when I told them what transpired even the remaining skeptics became convinced that this was a valid way to approach preaching. All of them agreed at least to try preaching through a book of the Bible in their various ministries. Mission accomplished!
In addition to teaching the students, I also had the privilege of preaching in the main church on Sunday morning, sharing my testimony at the Sunday night service in the Hindu part of the village, preaching at three evangelistic outreach events, and sharing more informally at a number of gatherings. I would be hard pressed to share the details of these events, but I will say that the Lord was gracious and much fruit was borne.
Thank you, Glory of Christ, for allowing me to minister among our friends at RAN. This brings my series of devotionals on my trip to a close, so let me encourage you one more time to visit them www.reachallnations.org and lift them up in prayer.

On My Trip to India, Part 4

As most of you know, I traveled to Ventrapragada, India from May 5-16 to be part of a team that taught (and learned from) Indian Pastors and those training to be pastors. The team was sent by the Treasuring Christ Together Network (our family of churches) to serve an Indian ministry called Reach All Nations (RAN). This week I would like to share with you about RAN’s Bible School.
The staff of RAN recruits students for their Bible School from the networks of relationships they have developed over the last several decades. The vision of the School is to train pastors and developing pastors who have a heart to plant churches throughout India and reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Currently, the Bible School lasts for forty days and includes intensive training in the Bible, theology, and various aspects of ministry. In addition to instruction, the students are required to engage in a variety of ministry activities which makes their actual stay extend to about two months.
The staff of RAN is hoping to expand the length of the Bible School from forty days to six months. In fact, they are devoting the entire month of June to fasting, prayer, and seeking the Lord about when and how they should make this move. They are hoping to do so in 2015.
Once students have graduated from the School, they are permitted to apply for a long-term partnership with RAN. About half of the students are approved. Those who are approved must then serve in their area of ministry for at least six months before they can apply for financial support. Those who are approved for financial support receive $50-100 per month.
As of now, RAN has about 60 supported ministry partners and another 150 non-supported ministry partners. Each of these pastors is required to attend weekly gatherings of RAN pastors in their local area, monthly gatherings in their region, quarterly gatherings at RAN headquarters where the staff provides more intensive theological or practical education, and the annual convention which draws 1,500 or more people.
It was my privilege to teach preaching at this Bible School. I’ll share more about that next week, but for now please visit RAN at www.reachallnations.org and lift them up in prayer. While the staff appreciates the various types of support they receive, they mainly long for partners who will pray. So let us pray!

On My Trip to India, Part 3

As most of you know, I traveled to Ventrapragada, India from May 5-16 to be part of a team that taught (and learned from) Indian Pastors and those training to be pastors. The team was sent by the Treasuring Christ Together Network (our family of churches) to serve an Indian ministry called Reach All Nations (RAN). This week I would like to share with you about the various ministries offered by RAN.
1. The Church: Current Sunday morning attendance at the church is about 250 people. They also offer a worship service on Sunday evenings in the heart of the Hindu part of their village. This service is small but it is filled with courageous believers who are risking much to openly worship Jesus where they live. Further, the church is seeking to establish at least two other worship sites in nearby areas, both of which I visited. In addition to these services, the church holds “cottage prayer meetings” just about every night of the week. These meetings are called by members of the church to pray for something, to celebrate something, or to evangelize their neighborhood. Finally, the church puts on occasional evangelistic outreach events, some of which draw thousands of people.
2. Children’s Home: This home services children from poor families who spend ten months per year at RAN. The Children’s Home staff teaches the children about Jesus, helps facilitate their public school education, feeds them well, and loves them with the love of Christ. The Home currently has thirty-one children, only one or two of which are orphans.
3. Ministry to Widows: I do not know how this arm of their ministry works but I know that it exists. I assume that they feed and otherwise care for widows who, in Indian society, are destitute if left to themselves.
4. Disaster Relief: India is subject to rampant flooding and other kinds of natural disasters. When disaster strikes, RAN has several partnerships through which they participate in the relief of suffering, especially among the poor.
5. The Bible School: The primary ministry of RAN is to train pastors and potential church planters through their Forty Day Bible School. I will share more about this next week.
For now please visit RAN at www.reachallnations.org and lift them up in prayer. While the staff appreciates the various types of support they receive, they mainly long for partners who will pray. So let us pray!

On My Trip to India, Part 2

As most of you know, I traveled to Ventrapragada, India from May 5-16 to be part of a team that taught (and learned from) Indian Pastors and those training to be pastors. The team was sent by the Treasuring Christ Together Network (our family of churches) to serve an Indian ministry called Reach All Nations (RAN). This week I would like to share with you about the history and heritage of RAN.
The ministry of RAN began in April 2001 under the leadership of Vijay Mesaala and his father, Pastor M. Sundara Rao. Pastor Sundara, a former high-caste Hindu, had come to Christ some decades earlier and eventually founded a church in the village of Ventrapragada to reach both low and high caste people. By the power and faithfulness of God, his vision came to fruition and the church grew to over 200 people, which is fairly large for their area.
He and his wife were unable to have children, and so they prayed and told the Lord that, if he granted them a son, they would devote him to the work of the ministry. The Lord granted them Vijay and they did devote him to the ministry, however, they wisely withheld this fact from him so that the Lord could work in his life. It took many years for Vijay to hear and receive his call to ministry, but in the late 1990s the Lord stirred in his heart and gave him the vision for the ministry of RAN. After Vijay received his call to ministry, he pursued more theological education in India and America (he holds two Master’s degrees), and then worked under the authority of his father to establish the ministry of RAN which essentially functions as the pastoral training arm of the church.
In 2011, Pastor Sundara had a major stroke which left him legally blind and partially paralyzed. By the grace of God, he persevered in the ministry for another two years, often preaching from his wheelchair. But last summer he took ill and died which left the ministry of the church and of RAN in the hands of his three sons and one daughter: Vijay (Director of RAN), Nani (Pastor of the church), Satya (Ministry Coordinator), and Shanti (daughter, married to a man who runs the Bible School). 
Next week I’ll share with you about the various aspects of the ministry of RAN, but for now please visit them at www.reachallnations.org and lift them up in prayer. While the staff of RAN appreciates the various types of support they receive, they mainly long for partners who will pray. So let us pray!

On My Trip to India, Part 1

Today I'm going to post a number of articles I wrote for Glory of Christ Fellowship regarding a trip I recently took to India. 

As some of you know, I traveled to Ventrapragada, India from May 5-16 to be part of a team that taught (and learn from) Indian Pastors and those training to be pastors. The team was sent by the Treasuring Christ Together Network (our family of church plants) as part of a five-year commitment we have made to a ministry called Reach All Nations (RAN).
Reach All Nations was founded by Vijay Meesala (who visited GCF two or three years ago) in order to train and send many missionaries throughout India, and indeed the 10/40 Window. Their passion is to play a part in accomplishing the Great Commission. The TCTN recently voted to support one of their two annual Forty Day Bible Training Schools by (1) donating $2,000 per year to the ministry and (2) sending two TCTN Pastors per year to help provide the training. Pastor Jordan Thomas and I were selected by the leadership of the TCTN to make the first trip, and thus, having received permission from the Elders of GCF, I went.
My trip was very fruitful, and over the next two or three days I’ll be sharing more about what the Lord did during my short stay there. For now I want to thank you so much for praying for the team and me, and for lending your financial support as well. Please continue to support this on-going ministry in one or more of the following ways.
First, if you haven’t done so already, please visit www.reachallnations.org, familiarize yourself with the ministry, and pray for Vijay, his staff, and the several key American partners in the ministry including Bethlehem Baptist Church, the TCTN, and Heart Cry Ministries. This is a frontline evangelistic ministry in a very strategic country, and more than anything—I truly mean that—more than anything, they need our prayer support.
Second, consider making a donation to help pay for the cost of the trip and the ministry of RAN in general (make checks payable to Glory of Christ and note that the funds are for India 2014). Any funds we receive in addition to our costs will be sent directly to RAN.
Third, the TCTN will be sending teams to India once or twice per year. Vijay is particular about who teaches at the Bible Training School, but there is always much to do for anyone who wishes to travel along with the team. Vijay told me that he’s willing to receive teams of 2-8 people, so please pray about your own involvement in this ministry. Perhaps someday the Lord will send you there as well.
Thank you so much, Glory of Christ, for your passion for missions and your willingness to put some skin in the game! May the Lord use this trip in ways we’ve not imagined for the glory of his name and the joy of our souls!

The Verdict Is In!

I have decided to remain a bi-polar blogger! What I mean is that the church I'm privileged to serve has a blog on its website and I have been posting all of my blogs over there, but for a number of reasons I've decided to "double-post," if you will. No need to explain that here, just know that from now on, you can access my blog entries here or at our church's website which you can find here.

God bless you all, I pray you will have a joy-filled day as you discover anew that Jesus is ultimately satisfying to the soul!