Friendly Reminder

Friendly Reminder:

You will, if you haven’t already, begin to read stories online about what’s happening in Houston, TX and the surrounding areas following hurricane Harvey. Some will be true and some will not be true. Don’t be found as one spreading gossip. Leave gossip for the ungodly. Put off the craving of your old man to report untruths and partial truths.

When you see someone post something on social media be sure to research the story. Look for collaborating sources. Consider the source. Have you ever heard of this news outlet before? Do they report other news? Some sources report things just for the fun of it to see how many people will pass the story along.

Follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, be struck with compassion for the suffering plight of humanity that is wide spread from the path of hurricane Harvey, but don’t be so eager to be the first of your friends to break the gossip filled story that makes you an unreliable source of truth when you want a voice to speak the gospel.

Just a friendly reminder…

p.s.
Eastside Baptist Church will take up a love offering over the next few weeks to address disaster relief needs.

Effective Ways to Reach Youth and Young Adults

First, realize that the title of my post today is with my tongue in my cheek, sort of speak. I’m not employing the title to attract readers.

When I’m away for a stretch of time I like to take a moment and catch up on my regular reading circuit of newsletters I subscribe to and bloggers I regularly read. I’ve just finished getting caught up on a few of those, most were deleted or flagged to read later.

Of note, there seemed to be an uptick of posts and columns that were addressing the most effective ways of reaching youth and/or young adults. Not just the random writer or publishing house trying to get readers from desperate pastors or leaders in churches that are facing pressure to increase the bottom line of attendance (which means the bottom line for funds), but there seemed to be several from what I would call are otherwise trustworthy sources and noteworthy authors. I decided to read a few of them to see what’s being said about the attraction of youth and young adults. These articles and columns come from denominations, churches and even secular sources.

There were three things that caught my “attention.”

  • The clip art or stock photos for the articles seemed more flashy than normal and an increase in photos of young people with more tattoos, body piercings, and seductive type clothing and facial expressions. I first realize that I’m now looking at everything in life from a 50 year old’s lens (which now includes bifocals). I respect that I can’t require all of the advertising world to appeal to my likes. But I do find it interesting a shift that is or has happened in what is presented as “normal” for what a young person looks like who is serious about a relationship with God. It is a significant shift mind you. To my pastor friends, look at that publishing house flyer again and notice the kind and type of clothing the publishing house is using in their stock photos. Notice the increase of youth and young adults with tattoos, body piercings and most noticeably the style of clothing across the board. Who will hold the publishing house accountable for telling (showing) the church what is normal and acceptable. What is being passed off as a flyer to promote a resource may more be a fashion magazine of trending styles. Does anyone else notice this? or have I really become the old man.
  • The selling of products and services. I respect that things cost money and there must be a recovery of product costs and time that people devote to their labor. I don’t fault this on anyone. But the increase of what I would otherwise identify as para-church resources (resources for churches and pastors that are not from churches and pastors). There is a business to be had by that which was designed to assist the church that is largely now instructing the church in what and how to do her work. Agencies and “coaches” to help the church evaluate her effectiveness and determine how to more effectively reach people is no new thing, but the increase in churches and pastors turning to these seems to be trending like a bull market.
  • The content of the blog posts, articles, and columns are still ignoring the sufficiency of Scripture. A recent, well respected author, who has the ear of many people across denominational lines and seen by many as a “missional” expert recently wrote about effective ways to reach youth and young adults. Because I like to read what he has to say, I read his article. I was shocked to not find one of the nine suggestions to include anything about Scripture. (before I go further: I get that it may have been an implied starting place so I’m not suggesting we gather on the streets with torches lit on our way to the publishing house, but if we are going to be responsible in our day, we can’t assume that the sufficiency of Scripture is an implied starting place of most ministers.) His nine suggestions used every buzz word you might find at any recruitment office of any business in town looking to attract a new clientele. Words like “community”, “service”, “worship experience”, “technology”, “authenticity”, “transparency”, “team”, etc. Not one word about God, Truth, Scripture, prayer, suffering, considering the cost of following, obeying, self-discipline, sound doctrine, equipping of the saints, biblical evangelism, etc.

There was a great reformation that took place nearly 500 years ago that addressed many things that the modern church would do good to be reminded of. Where many of the things in the resources and articles are true they may not at the same time be truthful. Sure there are ways to effective gather a people together; but is that people a church?

If the church is to effectively reach anyone, not just the young, she must devote herself to God, His words, and His ways.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11)

Note to my preacher friends:
Don’t do what I’ve done in days of desperation because of pressure from men and employ worldly means, that may not be truthful, to attract a people. Rather, if there is any desperation, it is that if there is a famine coming from the current drought for hearing the words of the LORD that we are found successful in honoring God by feeding His people His words.

What Does A Church Do?

News of intentional attacks against non-Muslims in Pakistan on Easter Sunday and reports growing of the number of worshipers dead continues to climb leaves a mind of a follower of Christ in relative peace at a juxtaposition.

Especially a local church putting the final touches upon a building process. What does a church do? What is a right response? What is a fair reaction? Is it alright to rejoice in temporal things while others suffer bodily harm or even loss of life all together?

The weight of what the apostle Paul says “to live is Christ, to die is gain” causes one to ponder what really is important. (disclaimer note: where it is reported that the attack on Easter Sunday (3/27/16) in Pakistan was directed toward Christians, one needs a bit more help knowing what is meant with the use of the word “Christian”. At this point, we interpret it as we might with understanding that the media really doesn’t know the definition of the word or its proper use in reporting. Irregardless, a religious group was attacked by another religious group. I is right to weigh it as such with care.)

Here are some things I am processing through my mind this morning as the flooring in our new meetinghouse is being installed and news of 70 Christians dead and over 300 wounded begins to take center stage on world media outlets.

  • “Behold the kindness and severity of God…” (Romans 11:22) Look at His kindness and severity.
  • Be careful how we interpret His kindness (Is the installation of flooring the kindness of God?).
  • Be careful how we interpret His severity (Is it harsh of God when a loved one dies?).
  • Even though the landscape of the church in America is quickly changing, Christians in America have experienced a long season of peace.
  • Even thought few churches in the United States are marked like those in Pakistan were over the weekend, that reality is more the norm in most of the world.
  • Mourn when it is appropriate to mourn.*
  • Rejoice when it is appropriate to rejoice.
  • Refuse to live in fear.
  • Enjoy temporal events in light of eternity.
  • Endure hardships in light of eternity.
  • Pray for those in difficult situations for boldness more than removal of their hardships.
  • Ask God for strength when the hardship comes our way.

Today, this preacher will look with pleasure as floor covering begins on a temporal meetinghouse, godly sorrow for those suffering in Pakistan, and a sober reality that there is a growing hate for followers of Christ in our land and set my gaze to the kindness and severity of God.

After all, the book of Hebrews chapter 11 starts with a beautiful retelling of the kindness of God to give increasing faith to those who historically walked in the light of the favor of God and then closes with the telling of saints who suffer greatly in this world for their following of Christ. It is a chapter filled with an apparent juxtaposition much like today.

 

 


*edited for spelling/grammar

Better to Love God

I was recently in Haiti to visit the New Horizon Home of Eastside Baptist Church. While there we made plans to take the girls (all 43 of them) to a Baptist church in the community where we have moved. I visited the church on a previous visit and met the pastor but this was the first visit with the girls.

I already knew I was in a special place because on the front wall, behind the preacher, was this statement from 2 Timothy 3:1-5

IMG_20150712_103805 (1)But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

I was very pleased to discover the girls have a very good church in their neighborhood that will boldly preach the bible. It will seem strange to many, that in a place like Haiti, there is a great mixture of a worldly message of prosperity attached to the preaching of the Bible. It is tragic that what is considered “successful” in an American church is imitated by anyone wanting to be rich rather than obedient.

As we walked into the church house we expected that we may have a hard time finding a place for all 43 of the girls and 9 Americans to sit together. After finding no place on the main floor we made our way to the balcony, there we were able to get all the girls together.

My dear brother, Alex, sat next to me and translated the sermon for me. The sermon on July 12 was from a visiting preacher and his text was Acts 28:1-5. I only have short bits of the sermon written down, but very convicting and encouraging that the church our girls will attend will preach the bible. This is a top priority for me.

Title: A Bite but A Blessing

  • Some come preaching: ‘come to God and be blessed’, but at this church we preach, ‘come to God and suffer.’
  • Paul did not think when he was in jail that something bad had happened to him.
  • When he was shipwrecked on the island of Malta he did not think that God had abandoned him because of the hardship.
  • When he was bit by a snake while getting wood for the fire, he did not assume he was being punished by God.
  • Paul was in the work of God; if you want to serve God you must be prepared to suffer.
  • There are two things we learn from Acts 28:1-5
    • Better to love and obey God than to just be busy in the work of God
    • First love and obey God – then – take pleasure in the work of God. If this is not understood you will think that you deserve blessings from God because you are busy in the work of God and deserve prosperity.
    • If you do not first love and obey God you will not be prepared to suffer.
    • It is better to love God and obey Him than to love the work of God without loving Him.
  • When Paul was in jail, he continued the work of God because he loved God and loved being with God
  • When you come to church, come to church to be with God and give glory to God because you love him.
    • If anyone wants to follow Christ he must pick up His cross (and suffer)
    • When you come to follow Christ, expect that you will face hard times.
  • When you are in a hard situation;
    • ask, is this the discipline of God?
    • ask, is this the result of following God?
  • If all things are going good you may want to ask God if everything is alright.
  • If all things are difficult, and you a sure it is not the discipline of God, you will want to bless the Lord for your suffering. He has asked of you to display his glory in your humility.

Acts 28:1-6 (NASB)
When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand.  When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

This would be a good sermon for all.

 

 

Do Not Think This Strange

DayOfRelease
“You must never forget those past days when you had received the light and went through such a great and painful struggle. It was partly because everyone’s eye was on you as you endured harsh words and hard experiences, partly because you threw in your lot with those who suffered much the same. You [sympathized] with those who were put in prison and you were cheerful when your own goods were confiscated, for you knew that you had a much more solid and lasting treasure in Heaven. ” (Hebrews 10:32-36 Phillips)

Sometimes, when I think about those God ordained days I weep as I consider the weakness of my mind. I think about those moments I would rise in the middle of the night, nearly overcome with the consuming thought of what people must be saying and thinking about me? what must Renee be enduring? what will become of Silas? what will become of the Thompson name? how is my church doing during these days?JailToilet

I think about those moments at night when I would make way to the bathroom in near complete darkness stepping around and over other inmates and be consumed with the reality that the Lord’s faithful around the world endure much worse than even this.

Nothing, in what I have come to call – my American Christian experience – had prepared me for this. I was, in many respects, learning how to deal with this experience without any practical preparation.

PaulI would find a sliver of light through an outside source and open that lamp of Scripture to preach to my weaning heart (that selfish, praise-of-men craving heart) and became immediately aware that I had adopted an unbiblical belief of how strange it is that this was happening (1 Peter 4:12-13).

When I consider those God ordained days, I consider them with joy, and it does not seem strange at all to look at them as such.

“…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing,
as though some strange thing were happening to you…”
1 Peter 4:12 (NASB)

Silas Thompson, Haiti, circa February, 2010

 

 

For the Furtherance of the Gospel

God sovereignly and supernaturally supervises all seasons of suffering in our lives for His glory for the furtherance of the Gospel and the encouragement of other believers.

Join me on September 26, 2014 at Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in Twin Falls, Idaho at noon as churches gather together to pray for pastor Saeed and the persecuted church. May the Gospel go forth.

“…that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,  and that most of the brethren , trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment , have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” (Phil 1:13-14 NASB)

  “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol , behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.”
(Psalm 139:7-12 NASB)

#FreeSaeed #Pray4Saeed

To The Saints Who Are In Chains

“Remember those who are in prison…” (Hebrews 13:3)

What a blessing it was to wake up this morning as the breeze of freedom filled my bedroom. And yet in the midst of this blessing, my flesh tempts me to forget the Giver of that blessing. Too quickly I begin to think of the plans I have for the day and the remembering of those who are in prison, because of their obedient following of God, begins to slip into forgetfulness.

The beauty of suffering is lost on the saints who think God owes them ease of life. We begin to forget that that moment of suffering is light, fleeting, momentary in comparison to the weightiness of Glory.

David, King of Israel, knew it like this:

9 And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD;
It shall exult in His salvation.
10 All my bones will say, “LORD, who is like You,
Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him,
And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?”
11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
They ask me of things that I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good,
To the bereavement of my soul.
13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled my soul with fasting,
And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.
14 I went about as though it were my friend or brother;
I bowed down mourning , as one who sorrows for a mother.
15 But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together;
The smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me,
They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like godless jesters at a feast,
They gnashed at me with their teeth. (Psalms 35:9-16 NASB)

Last night, while thinking upon the kindness of God in my own life through various seasons of suffering, I was encouraged by a sermon and a song as I prayed for pastor Saeed, my children, my parents, my church, and the precious girls at New Horizon Home.

May you too, be reminded to remember the saints who are in chains.

Sermon: Do Not Lose Heart, John Piper

Song: Though You Slay Me, Shane Barnard

” Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.” John Piper

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: