Sharing Christ in SE Asia

Recently I was in SE Asia on a short trip and during the course of our travel, we learned the train was derailed. We need to get back to our hotel from the village where we were staying and so we took a vehicle that was a cross between a four wheeler and a mini-truck. I was on the back of the vehicle jammed in between strangers. At 6’4″ I need a lot of room and while I was riding along uncomfortably, my translator suggests that now would be a good time to share the gospel. And so I did.

It was a real joy to share the message of Jesus’ love with people who had rarely if ever heard the story of the gospel. I wish I would share more often.

How Christian Believers Are Made

Special Note: Join with me in sharing the gospel with someone this Thursday. If you have experienced God’s grace, I encourage you to be intentional and make a commitment to share Christ on October 15 along with our church family.

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15a)

Here we have a series of four questions in just two verses above that form a logical chain. The questions form a sequence. Only Paul gives this sequence in reverse order. So the result is given at the beginning while the first step is given last. So if you were to see this sequence fleshed out where a person comes to Christ as His Savior and Lord, it would work this way:

1.    A Christian is sent (verse 15a);
2.    This Christian is sent to tell the Gospel (verse 14c);
3.    People hear the Gospel because of this Gospel-telling Christian (verse 14b);
4.    People believe in the message they have heard (verse 14a);
5.    The people who believe will then call upon the name of the Lord (verse 13).

If we put the five steps together in these verses together in reverse order, we see the Bible’s logic for evangelism and missions:

Christ sends evangelists;
Evangelists preach;
People hear;
Hearers believe;
Believers call;
And those who call are saved.

In fact, verse seventeen sums up Paul’s argument: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

In these two verses, we are given five steps toward leading others to faith in this text. Each of these five steps outline the necessary progression that must happen before anyone can call upon the name of the Lord. Each step is described with a series of rhetorical questions. The culmination of the series of questions is expressed first in the list: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?” (Romans 10:14a). While the last question, located at the beginning of verse fifteen, is the foundation of all the questions: “And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15a).

Your job description is tied up in these five steps. It is impossible for anyone to call upon the name of the Lord until a Christian is sent. They can only call upon the name of Christ, if they have already believed in Him. They can only believe in Him, if they have heard of Him. And they can only hear of Him, if a person proclaims the message. And the message can only be proclaimed, if a Christian is sent. And it is these steps… this logical chain is so highly important if people are going to call upon the name of the Lord.

GreekRunnerPost Script: As you read this passage, do not confuse “preach” here with the modern Sunday morning sermon. Instead of thinking about a pulpit when you see this word “preach” here, I want you to think of the news media. The news media for the “Bible days” is town herald. In the fifth century BC when the Greeks were at war with the Persians, three great historic battles occurred. Among these three battles was the Battle of the Plain, so called because it occurred on the Marathon Plain, a man was commissioned as a runner. He took messages from the battlefield back to the city of Athens. He ran the entire distance, twenty-six miles, which is why we call races of that duration marathons. This runner ran all the way from the plain into the city of Athens to bring the gospel, Greek word that simply means good news, of the Greek victory at Marathon. So the herald would tell the townspeople of a military victory and then he would head to the next town to tell them as well. So preaching is much like journalism – only it’s telling good news.

Five Challenges for 2015/2016

Sunday was an important day for our church. Once a year I speak to the vision of our church (both NRHBC and Cross Church). It is a day I set aside to challenge our church around five areas of future growth moving forward in the remainder of this year and much of next.

Below is a quick recap of the five challenges. I have also included video portion where I speak to our church. If you care for our church, please join me in praying and rally together toward these five challenges.

1. Increase the Number of Bible Study (SMBS) Groups. We currently offer 36 adult SMBS groups at NRHBC and 5 small groups at Cross Church. In the next four years, we want to offer 45 groups at NRHBC. Sunday Morning Bible Studies is the lifeblood of our church. This is where we care for people and it is where we study God’s Word in depth. I cannot underestimate the importance of these groups to the life of our church. They are critical and God does so much good through this one aspect of ministry. In fact, if you are not in one of these groups, you are missing out on an area of growth and relationships.

To get to our goal, we need competent godly people to step up and start new groups. It takes real work to call, teach, and care for adults. However, leading also brings a great deal of joy. Seeing others grow in Christ and “get it” spiritually is extremely powerful. Pray that God allows us to move to our desired number.

2. Send 30% of of NRHBC and Cross Church on a Mission Trip by 2018. During a short term mission trip, we mobilize Bible-believing people for a short period of time, from a matter of days to a few weeks. The impact of how God works through these important times is incalculable. When you go on a short-term trip, you grow exponentially, but you also impact the people where you are ministering. Whether you are clearing debris after a disaster or sharing Bibles in a major metropolis around the globe, short-term missions puts you in touch with career missionaries and causes your hearts to beat with the love and compassion of God Himself (Romans 10:1).

To get to our goal, we need 450 people to step up on a mission trip in the next three years. We have trips planned to Colorado Springs, Colorado, Vancouver, British Columbia, and SE Asia. More trips are planned continually and you simply need to reach out to our missions pastor for more information on how you can be involved.

3. Join together for a Week of Prayer on November 8-15 and for 24 Hours of Fasting on November 14-15. In a recent New York Times article entitled “Googling for God,” we witness some of what happens behind closed doors when Americans are alone with their computers.

“It has been a bad decade for God, at least so far. Despite the rising popularity of Pope Francis, who was elected in 2013, Google searches for churches are 15 percent lower in the first half of this decade than they were during the last half of the previous one. Searches questioning God’s existence are up. Many behaviors that he supposedly abhors have skyrocketed. Porn searches are up 83 percent. For heroin, it’s 32 percent… The top Google search including the word “God” is “God of War,” a video game, with more than 700,000 searches per year. The No. 1 search that includes “how to” and “Walmart” is “how to steal from Walmart,” beating all questions related to coupons, price-matching or applying for a job.”

Many of us feel the moral and spiritual fabric of our nation slipping away. The commitment to Christ and His church has slowly eroded. Apathy for spiritual things has moved to antagonism for people, for the Bible, and those who believe. Turning this around is beyond any one person and any one congregation. We need God to move in and change the tide. We need to recognize our inadequacy and plead with God to change our churches, our lives, and our nations. We need a spiritual awakening.

We are setting aside one week to ask God to bless our missionaries and to advance the gospel around the world, November 8-15. And we are calling for a church-wide 24 fast beginning Saturday at 7 p.m. through Sunday at 7 p.m. Your fasting should be a sacrifice on your part and it can include food, drink, social media, television, or video games. This 24 hours is set aside to plead with God to impact our church and our nation.

4. Finish Paying for the Land for the Future Home of Cross Church. Our church purchased approximately 27 acres in 2013 in order to begin Cross Church, our church’s second campus. God has blessed our work in a remarkable way over the past 18 months as our second campus has meet in a nearby school. Yet, our longterm goal is to secure the land as a future home and erect a building. We need a permanent home for many reasons but here is one of our biggest needs: a permanent home allows us to meet together anytime of the week rather than only Sunday mornings. A permanent home allows us to better serve North Fort Worth as community center hub.

To complete the purchase of the land, we have set aside Sunday, November 15 as a Big Offering Day. Our one day goal is $325,000. Join me in praying and giving sacrificially on this day.

5. Commit to Share the Gospel on Thursday, October 15. Let’s join with hundreds of churches across the United States in prayerfully committing to intentionally engage in a gospel conversation on this Thursday. Take time to share your commitment with friends and ask them to join. You may want to use gospel presentations such as 3 Circles or The Story. Begin praying right now for someone that needs to hear about God’s love through the cross of Christ. Again, I am calling on everyone of us to share our faith on this one day.

Thank you for taking time to read this and watch this video. Please consider sharing these five challenges with a friend, co-worker, or family member as a way to stir them to great faithfulness in Christ.

Related Post: For the Five Convictions that Direct our Church, go here.

For the full video of Sunday’s Vision Recast Sermon, go here.