Monday, January 28, 2013

The Ends of the Earth

I recently received an update from one of our Mission Partners, Frank Godberg in India, along with a number of pictures. Here is some of what he wrote:

Greetings to you in His precious name. How much ever we thank the Lord is not enough for the grace He bestowed upon the different facets of our Ministry over here in Kolar Gold Fields, India, all through the year 2012. In spite of the difficulties, hindrances, crisis and obstacles that came our way, God was faithful to us in helping us overcome all those distractions and to press on with the good works He had planned for us the whole of last year.


Acts 1:8, a summary verse for the entire book of Acts and the entire early church, says "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Historically, the Church took up this call, this Mission, as the message of Jesus and His kingdom spread beyond Jerusalem to the entire Roman Empire and beyond.

In Matthew 28:18-20, our resurrected Lord makes clear the call and the Mission of His Church: "Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Jesus also said that "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14). The implication is that the Church has not completed its Mission until the ends of the earth, all peoples, have been reached with good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Believe it or not, there are still many places and peoples where the gospel of the kingdom has yet to be preached! In a previous blog post, you can even visit an organization that keeps track of the progress of the global Church. There are many different strategies for reaching these unreached people groups or "frontier missions" but its clear that this is the Mission of the Church.

It's wonderful to know that through our General Fund we support a number of Frontier Missionaries. Our partner in India, Frank Godberg, is fulfilling this call as India has a high number of unreached people groups and we are delighted to have new partnerships within The Antioch Partners that focus specifically on frontier missions. As Missions Director, let me offer thanks for those who continue to support the Mission of the Church through Trinity's involvment, and especially those who answer the call to go themselves to such places for the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Listening to God's Voice...online!

As we conclude the "I Resolve to..." series this Sunday we will focus on resolving to listening to and for God's voice in the New Year. Cleary the primary and normative way that we listen to God is through His Word, the Scriptures. Many, however, find it difficult to pick up the nearest bible and to read it straight through or during difficult times to locate that portion of God's Word that will offer the comfort and guidance needed during those moments.

In the earliest days of Christianity it was nearly impossible for an individual to have their own copy of the bible and often times literacy was a problem. Later as the languages of Greek and Hebrew became less common, there were translation difficulties. Today we have a huge advantage with the wealth of information available to us on the internet. A great resource is www.biblegateway.com . You can go to this website and type in the bible passage like 2 Peter 1:1, a key word like "son", or even a topic like "predestination". You can even select which version you want to look at so that you can compare multiple translations of a difficult passage. There's also Devotionals, Audio Bibles, and Reading Plans to help you in your exploration of God's Word. This is one website among many! There are also, for those of you with phones and other devices, apps or programs that can do everything from track the minutes you spend in spiritual activities to sending you a Scripture verse to reflect on. There is a wealth of resources out there! If you have a good website or a program that you've found helpful, then please comment below and share it with your brothers and sisters!

Of course, another way that God speaks is through His Holy Spirit that resides within us, the Church. We hear God when He uses us to speak to one another. There are blogs, vlogs (video sharing), question and answer pages, newsletters, online sermons, and community discussion boards where belivers across the globe share what God has been doing in their lives and God speaks through these avenues. Did you know, for example, that you can watch every sermon that has been preached at our Monday night Oasis service? Again, if you have any online places, blogs, or ways in which God speaks to you, share below in the comment area for the edification and building up of the body!

So often technology and media can be used inappropriately, but I encourage us all to take advantage of the gifts and opportunities we have online to hear God's Voice in our lives today, whether by taking a deeper look at Scripture or listening to God's Spirit through our brothers and sisters in Christ!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sophia's New Year Heart

 Happy New Year!The New Year is an exciting time for us. It’s a time when we feel like we can wipe away the old and make resolutions to try to renew ourselves and get a fresh start. This theme of renewal is something that is found throughout Scripture.In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul tells us “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!”There is excitement and hope in what Paul is saying.In Christ, the old person you were is truly wiped away and Christ makes you someone totally new, someone who is redeemed. However, there is a difficult part to all of this, just like there is a difficult part to all of those New Year’s resolutions that we make. It may all sound great, but there is one big problem: it takes a lot of work! We might decide that we are going to lose weight or save money in the New Year, but this is all easier said than done. Now, of course, when we are made new in Christ, it is not because of our hard work, but by grace that we have been saved; and once we are in Christ nothing can take that away. However, the hard part comes in consistently following Christ and the daily exercise of being made new.

 
Every January my family has a very special reminder of the impact of being made new in Christ. January is the month that we celebrate the anniversary of our daughter Sophia’s heart transplant. God provided us with the most amazing miracle; he truly had made our daughter new, and just as Christ spiritually brings us from death to life, Christ had physically brought our daughter from death to life. He wiped away her old dysfunctional heart and provided her with a new life saving one, just as he does for us spiritually. It is a wonderful and beautiful story of God’s deliverance for Sophia and his mercy, love, and grace. But even with such an amazing story, with the ultimate happy ending, there is still a hard part; there is still work to be done. Yes, God delivered Sophia and made her “new,” but the journey isn’t done. Her life is forever changed and forever different. Because of her new heart, she will be on immune suppressing drugs for the rest of her life and we will constantly have to be monitored. Sophia most likely won’t be able to attend regular school, she can’t be around anyone who is sick, and everywhere we go we must be so cautious about germs. Also, because she stayed in the hospital for so long and was so sick, she was unable to eat and learn as regular babies do, and so she has a feeding tube in her stomach and she has to receive multiple therapies to try to catch up developmentally. Although we received this amazing life-saving miracle, and our daughter was made new, the journey is not over for her, there are many more hurdles for us to face.
 
However, even with all the difficulties she may face, we are still forever grateful because although this new life of hers comes with its challenges, it is still so much better than the dying state she was in before. So then is the same for us spiritually as Christians. We have been given this amazing miracle of salvation that saves us, but the journey is not over. We still have struggles, and being made new in Christ isn’t always easy. It takes work; it means that our whole life and lifestyle must change. Renewal isn’t easy; it takes dedication and discipline, just as so many of our New Year’s resolutions do. But the beauty and hope in all of this is that no matter what, we can still be grateful, because even though this new life in Christ may be difficult at times, it is so much better than the darkness and death we were in before. Further, we get to anticipate and look to the hope that comes in the day that Christ returns and there will be no more struggle. We mustn’t be shocked when we realize that even though we have been made new in Christ and have been delivered, there is still hard work to be done. We must expect that “putting off your old self,” and “putting on the new,” will not always be an easy task, but we can take great comfort in the fact that throughout our life’s journey and even in the times that “putting on the new” becomes very difficult, Christ is with us, and is providing us with all that we need to help us through.
 
His grace is sufficient for us and as he tells us in Matthew 28:20 “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” So as we seek to allow Christ to renew us daily, although it can require a lot of work and the journey can often be hard, let us not loose heart and find the encouragement we need in Christ