I have been thinking about the message that was preached recently at Relate Church by Timothy Brown. We are going through the book of Philippians and the message caused me to start thinking about Paul having joy while in the Roman prison. Paul talked about how his time in prison served as an opportunity for the gospel to be preached. He basically was imprisoned for preaching the gospel and used this opportunity to preach to the prisoners and the guards. Its not like they could go anywhere so Paul took advantage of this. This caused me to realize that in the grand scheme of things the gospel ultimately cannot be stopped! Throughout history tyrants, governments, many many have tried to stop it but have ultimately failed. People today want to stop the gospel but will not ever succeed because it is the power of salvation to everyone who believes. At times it may can be slowed down but will never be defeated. The worst anyone can ever do to us is kill us and history shows that will only inspire believers even more to share and it will spread even more. In fact throughout history whenever followers of Jesus are being persecuted is when the church really explodes in growth. I heard a quote once that said: "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." When things are okay is when we tend to become comfortable and complacent' However, when persecution abounds is when the church really thrives.
The only way the gospel can ever be stopped is if we choose to believe the myth that it can be stopped and we remain quiet due to fear! Scripture says we are more than conquerors because of Christ in us! Until Christ returns the good news of Jesus is unbeatable, so what are we doing to share this good news?
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
One thing that I have learned since I surrendered all to Jesus on January 11, 2002, is that following Him is an adventure! Once we take that step in being sold out to Christ and declare that our life is His completely, we can never predict the way things will turn out. Last summer we made the difficult yet undeniably Christ led decision to leave a comfortable full-time salary and move back home with no promise of a job or any kind of income. We just had a calling to help with a church plant and see lives transformed by the gospel any way God desired to use us. Needless to say, God has provided for us every step of the way as we knew He would. We knew God had big plans for Relate Church and that many people were going to come to Christ through this ministry. That has happened and we are still blown away with what all God has done and is still doing. Easter Sunday we had almost 300 people in attendance and this past weekend we started a third service on Saturday nights. Every week we have people cross over from death to life and words can't express what it is like to be a part of this ride and to be able to serve with these Relate leaders and volunteers. I am surprised by the intensity of this growth but I am not surprised with what God has done at Relate. Melissa and I knew last February 2012 that this was coming, we just didn't know when or how it was going to happen.
Within the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of stepping into the role of children’s pastor as well as my role as outreach pastor. I am excited about seeing what all God does with this ministry. I have a passion to see kids and their parents transformed by the power of Jesus Christ and I am ready to just pour into these families and volunteers.
Since our big move, however, some things haven't gone the way we initially thought they would. There have been some twist and turns along the way, but the last time I checked the God of the universe didn't need to consult me when it came to expanding His kingdom. He has simply called me to follow Him, trust Him, and be obedient. As of now we are still living in Gaffney and making a one hour commute several times a week along with me working a secular job. Melissa has been substitute teaching whenever she can as well. Her opportunities to sub have been limited due to needing childcare, but God has provided along the way. Trying to balance all of this and still have family time has been more challenging than anything we have ever faced. I have actually started getting up about 5:30 every morning just so I can have my quiet time with God, exercise, or just work on stuff. Honestly unless I get up really early or stay up really late there isn’t much time throughout the day. This has caused me to have to step out of my comfort zone in ways I have never had to before because I am not a morning person and I suffer from that little thing called…… uh laziness!
To wrap this up I just want to say that this chapter in our lives has stretched us in ways we never have been before and I am so grateful for it. I would not have exactly planned the way things have gone the past eight months, but God’s ways aren’t my ways and His ways are always perfect. I have grown more in the past 8 months than I ever did in the prior 31 years leading up to that. We typically like to plan things out and they go exactly like we planned, but honestly when that happens we get comfortable and comfort usually leads to apathy. When the unpredictability happens we are forced to depend on God and that is when true growth takes place! So I am celebrating the unpredictability of following Jesus today and I pray that He would scrap my plans and replace them with His.
Many of you reading this have supported us from the very beginning whether through prayer or giving financially and we can’t thank you enough. Please continue to pray for our family as we seek the Lord daily and desire to be used by Him. Pray that we will see God at work in every area of our lives and be obedient to what He is leading us to do whether we are serving at Relate or shopping at Wal-Mart. We just want to be used by Him and to be a part of the expansion of His kingdom.