As I sit here in the Montego Bay airport with my 17 other team members (and a 4 hr flight delay), it is cause for reflection.
This week was good in so many ways. Let’s look at a few.
First off, the team was good – these are some great kids we went with. Seriously, everyone worked hard, played hard, laughed even harder, and there was no drama to be seen or heard! Let’s not forget the conditions definitely were not ideal, so that is extraordinary. I am so proud of them. This was such a great representation of our a God – in the unity of our team.
Second, Jamaica is a good and beautiful place. Amazing water, crazy lush forests, and even mountains. Pray for rain though, they are in the middle of a major drought. The people are beautiful here too. One thing, among many, that struck me was sometimes you will here a Jamaican say “Respect, mon.” Quite simply, they are telling you they respect you. Coming out of the church one afternoon after work, a man on the sidewalk looked at me and said that. It was touching that he saw us helping the church and he respected that. Pray for him and others we met that they might come to faith in Jesus.
Third, it was good that we helped another church. We saw lives that had been changed by the work of God thru Anotto Gospel Chapel. When we build up the local church, the work can continue stronger when we leave. Pray for Pastor Thomas, Sister Velda, the Elders and people of the church.
Finally however, as good as Jamaica is, it is broken in many ways with much suffering and poverty. Pray for relief and healing. I’m reminded, as in Haiti, that physical needs do need to be taken care of. People need food, clothing, and shelter- but more than that, they need spiritual healing from sin and that can only come thru the cross. Pray that the gospel continues to make inroads and many come to faith.
Team Jamaica is doing well! As I write this I hear the sounds of the song “Let It Go” being sung (screamed?) at dangerous levels and the chaos one would expect from a game of “spoons”. We truly have a great group of kids with us!
We are staying at a mission house of the local church we are working at. We are sleeping several to a room in bunks under the magic of mosquito nets, and the normal comforts of home are pretty much in “Hurricane Sandy Mode” – a bucket for flushing your business (ring the bell!) and brushing your teeth with bottled/filtered water. Showers are thankfully available, but mostly outside and with a single (and somewhat low) water spigot.
Each day we travel via our bus to the church about 5 mins away. The church also has a school and we are painting all the class rooms while the children are away for Summer. It is hot, the work is hard, and we have seen many spiders and roaches the size of small automobiles- but God is at work here. The community is very poor with many family challenges, and the church is doing a good work.
Tomorrow night we will be attending the weekly Wed service at church and the Pastor has asked me to share from Gods word. Pray for me and us that we build up the church here.
We would love for you to continue to pray for us. Pray that we complete the work, pray for our hearts to grow in godliness and pray for the church and the people here.
We love and miss all of you!
This Sunday, we are taking 19 people (13 high school students, 5 leaders, 1 local expert) to Annotto Bay, Jamaica to support the Annotto Bay Gospel Chapel with some building projects and hopefully help with evangelism in the local area.
The team is very excited to go, some of us are traveling outside the country for the first time so this is an exciting event – one that we hope will open the eyes of many and also provide invaluable faith-boosting experience. We have much to be thankful for already – God has provided all of our financial support, all of our supplies are purchased, we have been meeting together regularly for prayer and preparation. We have a great group going this year.
One of the things we did to prepare was go through the book, Let the Nations Be Glad, by John Piper. In it, Piper writes, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church, worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” The gospel message is literally “good news” – but, not only the good news of salvation from sin in Jesus, but the good news that we have a King. A loving and sovereign creator God and our purpose is a life of passionate, joyful, obedient worship of Him. This is a life that transcends circumstances and brings fulfillment, peace, and hope.
We would love for you to pray for us. Please pray for….
- Safety in travel and no hiccups thru customs
- Protection as we work
- Group unity, patience, humility, servant hearts
- Opportunities to share Jesus
- For the local church to be built up
- That according to God’s riches of glory, he will grant us to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith…
- Pray also for Pastor Ryan and another Green Pond Bible Chapel group traveling to Israel at the same time.
I cannot guarantee daily summaries as wifi may not be available, but I will try my best. Stay tuned!
This is a very important read for all worship leaders.
Originally posted on Worthily Magnify:
I met some new people, heard some thought-provoking teaching, enjoyed some good meals and conversations with worship leader friends, and experienced in-person some of the modern worship trends that are becoming the norm in evangelicalism. It was eye-opening in many ways.
Over the last few days I’ve been processing some of what I saw and heard.
Worship Leader Magazine does a fantastic job of putting on a worship conference that will expose the attendees to a wide variety of resources, techniques, workshops, songs, new artists, approaches, teachings, and perspectives. I thought of Mark Twain’s famous quote…
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The bottom line is that what today traditionally represents, the sacrifice of Jesus, is massively important.
Everything hinges on who Jesus is and what he came to do. There is much confusion – some say Jesus was a good teacher, a kind man, even a “perfect man” – and the usual answer to the question of what he came to do was “die on the cross for our sins.” Why did he have to do that?
I’m thinking of (at least) our reasons why this day is massively important:
- Jesus’ sacrifice saved me from God. Ephesians 2 tells us that we were all at one time, objects of God’s wrath because of sin. God is justifiably angry with us because of our willful rejection of Him. The amazing thing is that God makes the first move to reconcile us to Him by Jesus. We were saved from God by God. As Propaganda says, “let that one bake your noodle.”
- Jesus’ sacrifice satisfies all of God’s wrath for my sin. Jesus’ sinless life and sacrifice in my place, satisfies ALL of the wrath of God against me – IF I have understood this by faith and live a life of worship and submission to God. That’s a big IF…because until you turn from your sin and to Jesus, your sins are not forgiven. As John 3:36 says, “His wrath is still on you…”
- Jesus sacrifice took my sin AND my shame. With sin comes shame, sometimes huge shame, guilt, grief, pain. Isaiah 53 says that the Messiah will bear it all. Jesus is both fully man and fully God, therefore he understands all of the hurt and he bore it on the cross, and has the power to atone for it.
- Jesus sacrifice paves the way for life. Without His sacrifice, there is no payment for sin, if there is no payment for sin, then there is no way to be forgiven. But God just doesn’t merely forgive our sin – he takes our sin and in exchange gives us new life. As Christ rose from the dead, we too – by faith – obtain a new life. This is tremendous HOPE that goes beyond any seemingly hopeless situation – nothing can take that new life away.
Maybe this is the season when you make the most important decision you can ever make, one with eternal significance. Turn from your sin and embrace what God has already done in Jesus by His sacrifice. If you have already done so then dwell. Consider. Soak in the depth of this amazing, loving plan of God.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1–4 ESV)
I’m up to Job in the yearly Bible read. (Side note, this is the first year I’m doing a 100% iPad read) and I was struck this morning by Jobs questioning of his misguided buddies with regard to the source of wisdom.
He says in 27:11 “I’ll learn y’all a thing or two.” (Little known fact: Job was a redneck)
He then goes on a bit of an extended discourse that centers around the source of wisdom. His central question is “what is the true source of wisdom?” (28:12 and again in 28:20) there is a mine for silver, copper, and iron, but where is the mine for wisdom? (28:1-2)
He answers his own question – and starts by saying that there is only one who knows its place – God.
“God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. (Job 28:23 ESV)
How true this is. How much time do we spend looking elsewhere for what can only be found in God?
The answer is to press into knowing more of God and reflecting Him in our lives. God can satisfy us in ways that nothing else can. Why? The answer is totally logical: that’s how he created us. I was reminded by Tozer this morning of the great quote by Augustine: “Thou hast formed us for thyself….and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee.”
As Job makes his summary point and answer to the main question:
And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28 ESV)
Looking to live a wise life? Looking for true and lasting satisfaction? Gods word tells us what to do: Consider God the utmost in our lives, submitting to Him in all areas, and moving away from sin. There is only one way to do this – the way He provided for us in Jesus.
Psalm 8 asks a very important question rather bluntly-
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4 ESV)
When we look at Gods creation the proper response is awe. We then think, like the Psalmist, who am I? Not that this should lead us to despair and feeling like we are worthless – just the opposite. Consider two points:
- God has made us to rule over his Creation as his image bearers. We are all full of worth, dignity, and glory as He created us to be very special and to reflect Him in everything we do. The Psalmist continues – “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5, 6 ESV)
- If that isn’t great enough, consider now he has lavished His love and grace on us thru Jesus. You see, We turned from our “specialness” and rejected his command for us to reflect His image. Instead, we chose to live for ourselves and reflect our own image – whatever we decide that is to be. Gods response? Not immediate punishment for our rebellious treason against our Creator King, but instead, grace for today, and the chance to escape the future penalties for sin in Jesus. My friend Ryan posted this passage on Christmas and it is a fitting summary of Gods response “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4, 5 ESV)”
Our response to this gift is to then renounce our agenda for our lives and devote ourselves completely to living as God intended, for a His glory, not our own. If you haven’t done this yet, or are a believer who isn’t living like it, this seems like a great New Year’s resolution!