Convention 2017 – Washington DC

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Foursquare Convention began for me (Jared) on May 24, as one of the translators for the Global Council.  This Council is comprised of National Leaders, regional chairs (from the different geographical sections: Central America, South Pacific, North Asia…etc.), area Missionaries and other invited contributors.

This Council demonstrates one of the key values and practices of the Foursquare Church since its’ inception –  from the time that a nation is first entered by missionaries, it is to rapidly move towards releasing the Nationals from U.S. leadership to a healthy natural role in governing the work in their context, while maintaining a familial relationship with the original work.  This may seem like subtle policy conversations, but on the ground it is VITALLY IMPORTANT!  I have talked with many colleagues from other organizations whose movements can’t seem to get traction because they lack a real connection with the sending organization, yet this organization continues to make critical decisions from such a long distance away.  This move towards partnership becomes so much more effective, though it is more difficult at the onset.

The Global Council is a direct result of this shared value.  Sitting in these meetings, as a translator, I was so encouraged to hear leaders from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, South Pacific and the U.S. all come to the table and discuss the realities of ministry today, pray and vision for the future, and allocate shared resources to accomplish these goals.  WAY TO GO!!

(Top Left: Prayer for Leslie Keegle, Sri Lankan, the new chair of the Global Council.  Presidents Sergio Caceres (Argentina), Glen Burris (U.S.), Jim Scott and Paul Otremba.  The Latin America crew together for breakfast: Clockwise: Jared, Sergio (Argentina), Paul & Ulrike Otremba (Colombia), Raúl (Panamá), David (Caribbean), Juan Carlos (Dominican Republic) and Jonathan Hall (Brazil, Miami, Los Angeles..)

Washington DC during Memorial Day week is a great time to visit, beautiful weather, lots of activity and this year spending Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery with Pastors Paul & Ainsley Harmon…a very fitting place to remember the contribution and ultimate sacrifice of so many for the freedoms that we enjoy:

And a few more photographic-scapes from Washington:

(Clockwise Below Left: Hubble space telescope, Hope Diamond 45.5 carats, Benjamin Franklin portrait, Jefferson Memorial, view across the tidal basin, “The Thinker,” Washington Monument / Center photos: entry to the metro at Dupont Circle, Leonardo da Vinci painting “Ginevra de’ Benci” National Gallery of Art)

So What…?

So-What

A great, and full day of celebrating the Resurrection…actually here, it is a full week, “Semana Santa.”

But today is Monday…and the looming question, so what?

I taught out of 1 Corinthians 15 this Sunday, in my opinion, the best developed theology and explanation of the absolute necessity of the Resurrection of Jesus for our faith.  But I like how practical Paul is, let me summarize his two main arguments that answer the so what…if there isn’t life after death…and the final…so what if there is!?

#1 – Hey, I have been really pummeled by this Christianity thing, even attacked by animals (if that’s what you want to call it 1 Cor. 15:30, 32).  It the resurrection didn’t happen, then why do we go through all of this…why do we put ourselves in danger every day?

#2 – Hey, if there is no afterlife then LET’S PARTY!!  Paul gives us the Greek philosophy  that is the end of the conclusion when we doubt the literal – physical – resurrection of our new bodies.  (1 Cor. 15:32) If the dead aren’t raised then eat and drink (live it up) for tomorrow we die.

#3 – If we really will be risen and have one short life to prepare for it…then I am going to live for God like there is no tomorrow.

That is the So What? of the resurrection of Jesus, our faith falls apart without it, it is necessary for all that we believe, and it is what our life is founded on.  This is a literal, historical, witnessed event that has changed the course of human history.

Now how is it going to change the history of one particular human… mainly YOU?

Team Update Hope Chapel H.B.

Over the span of 10 days in February, our home church, Hope Chapel, in Huntington Beach CA, joined us for their first official ministry trip to El Salvador…and it was incredible.  Of the 713 people served by the medical clinics, there were a multitude of stories that could be retold, but I wanted to pass on two:

Police Chief Eliseo Samuel: In Santa Ana, the church had called the local police station to send officers during the clinic to secure the site (they offer this service whenever there is a need…mostly because of the large quantity of medications).  Para aprovechar…to take advantage of their time there, each of the police officers on duty came through to receive much needed medical care, many needing basic medications and services.  During the prayer time, all officers received prayer and a few received the Lord!!  The chief of this office, Eliseo Samuel is a Christian man and we felt that the Lord developed a strong connection with him and the church.  We gave him our canopy for a project for the police department and he arrived during the church service on Sunday to pick it up and greet the team one more time.  Often with the focus on the gangs and the violence, we forget those who serve the community.  As Eliseo told me, “under this uniform we are human beings.”

Ines 102 years old: On our second day in San José we had the honor of serving and praying for Ines, who was 102 years young.  Now almost completely blind and very frail, she was served in a much needed way in the very poor community of San José.  As we found with many of the visitors, when asked if they know Jesus, most say yes, but don’t have a personal relationship with Him.  This was NOT THE CASE with Ines.  As Hanya and I asked her our normal question of, “Do you know what Jesus has done for you to receive eternal life?” this very frail lady, lit up and began to declare how He had saved her and recounted the numerous blessings He had given her.  What a joy it was to serve this wonderful saint, born over a century ago!

Clockwise from Upper Left: Hanya with Ines / Pastor Paul and Justin on the prayer team / several of the patient mothers waiting / Police Chief Eliseo receives a canopy for his department / Prayer team / Wayne & Pastor Paul with officer Rolando / Theresa with intake interview / David in the pharmacy explains use of medications / Paul & Wayne test and distribute reading glasses / committed prayer team workers

 

Points of Interest from the team:

  1. Leading people to Christ – in a region where everyone has heard of Jesus, it was remarkable to see the large number (do not have an exact count) who had never made that commitment to receive salvation (Romans 10:9-10) and give their lives to Him.  It was a joy to lead so many in this commitment for the first time.
  2. 713 people received care from the team during the medical clinics.  Theresa led the intake process and Dr. Moots from the team, and a volunteer Dr. Monjaras from El Salvador met with each patient.  This included a medical consultation and/or reading glasses, prayer, prescriptions to the pharmacy, usually taking about 30 minutes, plus a wait in the line.  Nobody complained and the Salvadorans were “Very humble and kind people” as describer by our guest Doctor Moots, who has lead over 20 clinics like this.  This type of care is not common and many basic needs were met in a compassionate and loving way.
  3. Multiplying medications.  Jason recounted in our debrief meeting how the only bottle of a certain prescription that was regularly ordered by the doctor never ran out…a loaves and fishes type of miracle.
  4. Our local church members worked tirelessly.  Johanna in San José took down the names of EVERY SINGLE person (436) during the two days, and decided not to even take her lunch break until the clinic ended every day.  Our translators Justin (from our church plant) and Mario (also our driver) worked tirelessly with the prayer and medical teams.  Both churches’ volunteers embraced their community, taught the kids, cared for needs and prayed with their neighbors…basically the Kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ reached out and loved their neighbors in a very practical and selfless way.
  5. Health, safety and joy:  Some of our team members were warned not to come to El Salvador because of the security.  there were a couple of tired days and some colorful bug bites…but no accidents, injuries, irate patients, nothing of the “bad news” that many suggested.  In reality, on the last trip home after the fourth LONG…LONG day of re-routed traffic for closed highways, serving the multitudes in the heat, staying for a church service, and the ride home, our team was laughing and filled with joy.  I was so impressed and filled with joy by our Hope Chapel team!!
  6. As always, incredible, Spirit led ministry.  Jason, Paul Petruna, and Gail shared great devotional messages at our Bible studies, Pastors Paul and Andre preached down the power of God on our Sunday services and Vickie and Wayne shared stirring testimonies…and the prayer time was uniquely anointed as the Lord ministered through our team to our Salvadoran family.

Thank you Hope Chapel for a powerful 10 days of ministry…we can’t wait for the next visit!!

 

Change your life…

today-e1417215808956Choose this day.  This moment. God or gods. Creator or creation. Bread or crumbs. Jesus or boredom. Worship or die. Look and Live, p. 220

I am just finishing a book written by Matt Papa, Look and Live, which delves into the interesting doctrine of the glory of God, in a profound way, but with a conclusion that is so very practical.  And the practical conclusion is what I want to leave with you, for our thought to chew on this week.

This moment contains all moments.  Theology is practical: especially now.  – C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain pp. 24, 94-5

I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.  The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord,…For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.  – George Müller Autobiography of George Müller: The Life of Trust p. 207

In a funny twist of irony, as I write this I just finished praying and received in one hour 13 messages that started the minute I began to pray…had to turn my phone off to stop the pinging of my iPhone…you remember each message that you ignore dings twice…26 dings.  The irony is that my desire to pray, then to write a blog about the need to disconnect was literally bombarded by distractions.  I did get up to check the phone…and promptly turned it off.

Matt Papa’s point with this book, really contemplating the depth of God’s glory is captured in the title Look and Live.  Only as we intentionally gaze, stare, contemplate, admire, adore…use any, and all superfluous terms that you can conjure up…and use these to stare longingly at Jesus…and you will live.

The C.S. Lewis quote explains that the entirety of our life, our productivity, our faith, our influence, all depend on now.  How do you start your day, how do you end it.  Life is lived in only one day…TODAY!  And what you invest in your walk with the Lord, and what you receive from Him is only realized in one moment NOW!

George Müller, one of my spiritual mentors (yes, you can be mentored by someone who never lived in the same time period) did an amazing work of feeding thousands of orphans, pastoring one single church over decades, and was known as an “apostle of faith,” realized that this all stemmed from his incredible devotion to prayer and to the study of the Bible.  What we do for God is shaped by the closeness of our relationship to God and with Him.

This week, composed of 7 days, remember that your growth in relationship with the Lord is the most important thing and that tomorrow is not the day to be concerned with it.  Your fruitfulness in life, the health of your family and relationships, everything revolves around this one significant thing, and that one thing, depends entirely upon today.

 

His Blessed Word

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Last week in His blessed promise I shared from Isaiah 54 some promises that we together declared with one of our churches this past week.  Following this topic of delving into the promises and richness of the word of God, this week I want to pass on a podcast from Foursquare area missionary Jeff Roper and his blog “All In”

He interviews Steve Schell, one of our great Foursquare Pastors about preaching through the Bible, not from the Bible, not themes supported by the Bible, but the concept of going through the Bible.  They take a look at a historic movement that was founded on this simple concept and the great benefit that we are offered by doing this.  The beloved J. Vernon McGee, decades after his death is still on prime time as he teaches through the word, one chapter at a time.  Chuck Smith (also trained as a Foursquare minister), who pastored in our home church of Hope Chapel, founded the Calvary Chapel movement with this principle as well…preach the word…the entirety of the Bible.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE

If you haven’t been exposed to this, or possibly never gone through the Bible in a year, 2017 would be a great time to start.

Here are a couple of options:

The Solid Life Reading Plan pdf (utilized for our discipleship classes) reads through the Bible in a year.

The Solid Life Reading Plan through the Bible App

Download the Bible App here

 

His blessed promise

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Yesterday in Ciudad Delgado, we shared a special time declaring, believing and expectantly looking into this great set of promises from the Lord for us:  Isaiah 54:13-17

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. This will be a church with a ministry to discipled children, and the peace of the Lord will be over the children and the youth of this church.

In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.  We will not live below the spirit of fear, nor bow our knees to the powers of the enemy which govern over this city, but we will live righteously and correctly before the Lord.

If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you.  No disagreement or fighting will remain or prosper within this church and any that rises up will fall.

Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and produces a weapon for its’ purpose.  I have also created the ravager to destroy;  God has called you to forge tools, to build workers/preachers of His word.

no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.  This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.  The attacks of the enemy will fall when you confess with your own tongue the word of God.  Your personal inheritance, and the inheritance of your church will come when you confess the word of God.

Receive the blessed promises of the Lord today…

What Makes an Evangelist?

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As we shared in the last post, New Year – New Church – New Promises, we are launching a New church in San Salvador…and this has stirred in me the evident reality that we need to be led of the Lord and actively seeking those who need Him.  This is not a new reality, but often we get busy with life and forget this very important reality…people are lost without Jesus, and if they don’t find Him before the grave, eternally lost.  Because of this reality, one of my favorite stories from the Book of Acts, in Chapter 8 spoke much to me recently and I want to pass that on to you.
To refresh your memory, Stephen is killed, becoming the first martyr of the early church… murdered is an accurate word to use here, and it was approved by the pre-converted Saul of Tarsus.  So those multitudes who had come to Jesus are being arrested, beaten, great persecution breaks out…and they run from Jerusalem.  Philip ends up in Samaria, and does what he has been doing, praying for the sick, chasing demons away and preaching.  This guy leads a one-man revival.  But the Lord isn’t done yet, the Holy Spirit sends him down from this massive revival, to find one man, one man who tradition has said, brings the Gospel to Ethiopia, which at that time was the end of the known world.  Then when he is done, the Lord translates him (Star Trek, “beam me up Scotty” style) to another town where he continues to preach and eventually settles down in Caesarea, has 4 prophetess daughters and establishes another ministry.  We find him still here 20 years later in Acts 21:8.
If you are like me, you would love to have a run like this, but also, find myself struggling to know when, how, where to share my faith.  Here are some observations that I found a really great launching point to pray for open doors to share my faith, like Philip.
What makes an Evangelist? Acts 8
1) Subject to travel by necessity…in this case persecution, but could be work travel, business, etc.  Not typically a person who stays indoors, with little interaction with people, vv. 4-5.  Maybe we go out to walk the dog, the donut shop, having a routine where we are OUT to be with people.
2) Empowered with the Holy Spirit – sends demons out on their way & preaches – this caused the people to hear the message vv. 7-8, even practitioners of evil (a sorcerer) see and listen, v. 13.  I need to be spending regular time with Jesus to keep my cup full!
3) He is not necessarily one of the “big guns” (the apostles) as Peter & John are sent down to assist, vv. 14-15, but he, working alone led the revival.  Not afraid to work alone, however not too proud to call in replacements when needed.  I don’t need a ministry title to share Jesus with people.
4) Directed specifically by the Holy Spirit, even angels, vv. 26-29, to the point that he can be translated immediately by the Lord!! vv. 39-40  I set in my heart now, Lord, where you send me I will go, I will say “yes” when you nudge me towards someone.
5) Is used by the Lord to lead significant people of influence to the Lord,…tradition says that this Ethiopian man returned and converted multitudes in Ethiopia…the Gospel went to “the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8)” (at least the known world at that time).  vv. 27-28 & vv. 35-36.  I will pray for the Lord to send me to people who are ready, and can influence others.