There is an old saying that says, “if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.” In our culture today of political correctness and relative truth, very few people seem to be willing to take a stand for their beliefs, especially if it runs counter to conventional thought. That’s why most politicians are careful not to take definitive positions on issues until they know how it resonates with the voting public. And if one does speak out on their beliefs, often they are immediately chastised by the media or harassed by those who take an opposing viewpoint. We seem to now live in a country where freedom of speech is apparently not so free. While we can still speak freely in public (for the most part) we must also be ready to endure the consequences. It is not easy to take stand today, and it is becoming much more difficult to take a Christian stand or to take a stand for the truth of the Bible. Yet the Bible commands us to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Today, Biblical truth is often not very well accepted in our culture, and to take a stand for Biblical truth is often met with criticism, intimidation or even outright harassment.
So it seems to me that there are few people today willing to take a stand for Biblical truth in our society. But is that really any different than it was 2000 years ago when the first disciples went out to proclaim the gospel and the truth about God incarnate in Jesus Christ? The first disciples were all persecuted and eventually killed for their faith in Jesus Christ and public statements about Him and His truth. The Bible even says in 1 Peter 4:12 “that we should not be surprised at the painful trials we are suffering” and then in 1 Peter 4:14 that “if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed.” As a matter of fact, we are called to share in Christ’s suffering if we truly are to follow Him. 2 Timothy 3:12 says “in fact, everyone who wants to lead a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” So if we are not being persecuted then perhaps we are not taking a stand for Jesus or Biblical truth in our culture.
So the question every Christian must ask themselves is this: Am I willing to stand for Biblical Truth? If not, then we are not being obedient to God’s Word. If we are, then we must be ready to accept the consequences of public ridicule and scorn like the first disciples. We must also be armed with that truth so we can articulate it clearly and confidently. And we must do it all in love, and with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). It will not be easy. But if we are faithful to God’s Word, He says we will be blessed.
If we want to see our culture change and turn to the Lord, then we are the ones who must take a stand today for Biblical Truth. We must take that stand in the public arenas, in schools, on Facebook & Twitter, in our places of employment, in our communities, and in our neighborhoods. We must continue to speak the Truth in love and let the Holy Spirit lead others to accept His truth. And we must be willing to endure the consequences knowing that in doing so we will unltimately be blessed. If we Christians fail to do this we will continue to see our culture move further away from God and His truth.
I pledge to take a stand for Biblical Truth in our culture. Who is with me? If all Christians unite together, we can change the culture!
FaithLife Ministries lost a devoted board member and training partner, as well as a personal friend, with the passing into eternity of Daryl Hoh on January 9th, 2013. Daryl was 74 and brought with him a mission heart and a love for the Lord that made this ministry better. He was a gifted teacher and a wise counselor, not to mention a great travel partner. He was also planning to go with me on 2 mission trips this year and was looking forward to the opportunity to serve God and train pastors and church leaders abroad once again. While we mourn his loss to us and to this ministry, and feel the Pain of his absence, we rejoice that he is now with his Savior and experiencing the indescribable Joy of eternal life with God!! What a blessing Daryl was to those who knew him, and what a blessing he was to this ministry. He will be deeply missed!
Here is a photo of us taken in Somoto, Nicaragua in September of 2009 with our host Bill Norling and partner David Quispirroca:
Please pray for his wife, Karen, and for his family at this unexpected loss.
As we begin another new year, we are often led to think about the future and to set goals for ourselves and our ministries. And it all starts with a vision of what could be. A vision is simply a look into the future and seeing something that does not exist today. It might be a new church building, a new church plant, taking your ministry to a new nation, or something else that is a tangible and measurable goal. As Christ followers we must get that vision from God, who “makes all things possible.” If we try to develop a vision apart from God it will fail (“Apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5). So the first thing we must do is ask God what He would have us accomplish for Him this year. That then becomes our vision (goal) and what God would have us work towards.
Once we know the vision we must then develop a plan of how to achieve that goal. Robert Schuller, a famous author and pastor, once said, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Without a plan a ministry is unlikely to achieve its goal because it will either waste resources or use them in a haphazard or ineffective way. A plan is not just a list of tasks that will ultimately produce the goal, but rather a strategy of how we can acquire, use, and deploy the resources that God gives us that will best lead us to our goal. Those resources are prayer, people, time, money, equipment, and facilitites. And because the world around us is changing all the time, a plan must also change in order to adapt to a changing reality. As every football coach knows, you start out with a game plan but when you are down by 28 points at halftime, you have to come up with a new plan/strategy if you want to win the game. If we seek God’s input into our plan, He will guide us and help us develop the best strategic plan. But we must also continually seek His counsel so we know when & how to change it when needed.
So, have you asked God what He wants you to accomplish for Him this year? Are you willing to accept His vision for you or your ministry? Do you have a plan or strategy of how to accomplish it? If not, then I would strongly suggest you ask God today and seek His vision for you in 2013. And God will respond, because He says in Matthew 7:8, “for everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Have a blessed and successful 2013 serving the Lord!!
Our vision is to see our training reach 100 nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But we also desire to see our foreign partners conduct the training on our behalf to help us reach this goal. Recently, our Management For Church Leaders™ (MCL) training has reached a nation where we have not been ourselves. We have a new partner in Sierra Leone, Bishop Samuel Bobor of Freedom in Christ Mission International. He was unable to attend our September training in nearby Liberia and so I sent him a copy of our MCL training manual and Trainer’s Guide last month. This past week, he used our material to train 100 pastors and leaders at a conference in Freetown! And I have never met Samuel in person, only through email. What a blessing this is!!
Bishop Bobor wrote the following to me; “The conference was held in my church and members of other churches came together with their pastors and so it was 100 that attended the conference. The conference was full and people were blessed with the teaching! We thank God for those wonderful teachings.” Below is a photo from the conference:
We thank God for partners like Samuel, who are willing to take our material and teach it to others! Sierra Leone is now the 27th nation that our training has reached, and we look forward to reaching more nations in the future through our partners. God-willing, I look forward to meeting Samuel one day and training in person in Sierra Leone.
To God alone be the glory!!
John Lennon once wrote a song called Beautiful Boy with the line that “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” Many times in our lives we get so busy with life that we miss the the joy and blessing of what we are experiencing at the time. In this season of holiday parties, gift shopping, and family traditions, we too often lose sight of the blessing of Christmas.
When Mary was visited by shepherds after the birth of Jesus, and they told her what had been told to them about her child, she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19). These are two words we don’t hear very often except at Christmas – treasured and pondered. God had just stepped into humanity and became a man. Mary treasured and valued her child, and thought deeply about who He truly was. Have you treasured Jesus and pondered His humanity?
This is the blessing of Christmas that too many people miss today. The fact that our God became like one of us, so that He might demonstrate His love for us, is so unbelievable that we don’t take the time to treasure and ponder what this means. This single event changed the course of the entire world, and impacts every life. This is no trivial matter that we should gloss over quickly. But rather we should take the time to really contemplate this reality and what it means to each of us.
So I pray that this Christmas we all will take the time to treasure and ponder the Christ Child, like Mary did, and to seek Him like the wisemen did. For nothing can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 9:39) This is the Blessing of Christmas!
The church is about people—their relationship to God and to one another. God’s ministry is accomplished through people, and the Bible says that all Believers are the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). A leader who is responsible for others must therefore develop them to their full potential. This is true of any leader, whether in business or any other organization. In the church we call this discipleship, and a leader must help his or her followers to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives But it is also practical ministry management. The Church leader has 3 main responsibilities with respect to developing people. First, their primary purpose is to make disciples. This is the Great Commission and the sole purpose of the church. Second, the church leader must train and equip others for ministry. All Believers are ministers for Christ. I like the way Paul says it when he says that “we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20). As ambassadors we are all representatives for Jesus Christ to the non-believing world. We are all called to be ministers of the gospel. No one gets a free pass on this one. And third, church leaders are to develop other leaders. In order for the church to grow or multiply, more leaders are needed. Pastors cannot do all of the ministry work themselves, nor should they. Church leaders should also be concerned about the future and should always be developing others to take their place. The Apostle Paul’s development of Timothy is a great example of this. Being an effective developer of people is key for any church leader.
I recently had an experience in Liberia in September that was perhaps inevitable for a missionary who often goes to countries and meets his host for the first time. In this case, I had met my host on several occasions, twice in Africa and once in the USA. I was partnering with him to bring our training to Monrovia and he was arranging the conference and recruiting pastors and church leaders to attend. Everything was normal as far as coordinating a mission trip of this kind, which I have done for over 10 years now. I had also sent my host $800 to help with the conference costs.
When I arrrived in Monrovia, I was dropped off at my hotel and was told he would be back to pick me up for lunch and visit the city. When he did not return as planned I became worried that an accident had befallen him. However, after 2 days of no contact I realized that I had been scammed. He had abandoned me at my hotel, took the money, turned off his cell phone, and disappeared. I don’t think I have ever felt so alone & discouraged, to be in a foreign country with no one to help me that I knew. The money was not important to me. I was more concerned about coming all this way from Atlanta to Liberia and not having the opportunity to train church leaders and do what God has called me to do.
So I began to pray to the Lord for what I should do, and he reminded me that I knew another pastor in Liberia, which I had forgotten about. His name was Moses, appropriately enough. I was able to find his cell phone number and called him. His church was 5 minutes from my hotel and he came by immediately. As I began to share my story of what happened and how I really wanted to do some training in Liberia, he said I could come to his church and train his handful of leaders. I said that was great and was so excited to have the opportunity to minister there. He said he would also make some calls and see if he could get a few others to come as well. That night he called me back and said he thought that perhaps 10-15 pastors and church leaders would come for a 3 day conference. I was ecstatic!
The next morning, he picked me up at my hotel and when we got to the church, there were 35 pastors and leaders who came to be trained!! All of them came with less than 12 hours notice and several came from 4-5 hours away! I was overjoyed and also a little overcome with emotion at what God had done! God was the one who turned this tragedy into a triumph for His glory!! No matter what I plan, I know that God is in control and will arrange things according to His plans and not mine. I am reminded of Proverbs 19:21, that says, “many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I pray that this does not happen again to me, or anyone else. But if it does, I know that God is there to bring about His Plan and His Will. To God alone be the glory!!
Here is a photo of me with Pastor Moses:
FaithLife Ministries has added a new partner for southern Africa training. Bishop Stephano Phiri of Jesus is Coming Soon Ministries in Malawi recently contacted us about bringing our training to Malawi & Mozambique. Stephano has planted over 500 churches in Africa and also has a vision for developing church leaders. In addition, he also runs an orphanage.
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Stephano this past week in Valdosta, GA where we began to develop our partnership in ministry. We are planning to hold training conferences in Blantrye, Malawi & Tete, Mozambique in March of 2013. We thank God for bringing us together and pray for His blessings upon our relationship in equipping His church and leaders in southern Africa!
FaithLife Ministries held its annual board of directors meeting on Saturday, November 3rd, where our vision and plans for 2013 were discussed and approved. Through 2012 our Management For Church Leaders™ training has reached 25 nations. Our vision for 2013 is to see this training reach 15 new nations and also 10 new locations in countries where we have previously trained. This vision is a continuation of our long term plan to reach 100 nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and repesents a significant step forward toward achieving that goal. Additionally, our strategic plan also incorporates the involvement of our global partners in this endeavor, thus multiplying the impact from the limited resources we possess. These plans including new training in Malawi, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Ecuador, and Mexico, to name just a few. To view our tentative schedule, please click here. To see where we have trained and where we are going, please check out our global map.
If you would like to help us or support us in this vision and plan for 2013, please visit the Get Involved tab on our website for information on how you can do that.
The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21 that, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” While we believe that these plans were given to us by God, we recognize His authority and provision for them, and will continue to seek His will and purpose for this ministry in 2013. To God alone be the glory!
Faithlife Ministries is a ministry that seeks to expand God’s Kingdom through the training and equipping of church and ministry leaders in less developed countries in order to help them impact their nations for Christ.