Be with Jesus

Let me encourage you this last day of 2012 with something the Lord has spoken to my heart over the last week. In Acts 4 Peter and John are hauled in before the Sanhedrin and grilled for preaching the right gospel. They are in trouble for healing a lame beggar. Peter responds to them in strong confidence and anointing and basically says....we did it!! And we did in the name and power of Jesus! Jesus is the one who heals and saves.

Then, Acts 4:13 says these words:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Been with Jesus.

Been with Jesus. 

Be with Jesus.

That is my prayer for this coming year.  I want to be with Jesus. It all starts from and flows from there.

Is there any better new years resolution? Any better life goal?

Jesus, I look forward to getting to know you even more in 2013. I look forward to being with you

Visit with us this Coming Sunday

It is unreal that 6 weeks have come and gone and we are departing in 5 days for Africa. We wanted to announce one more public chance to see some friends before we leave.

This Sunday...December 30...

  1. We will be spending our last Sunday with our hone church, Capital Christian Fellowship. The address is 10411 Greenbelt Road in Lanham, MD. Service starts at 10:15am.
  2. After church from 12:30-2:30 we would LOVE to share lunch together at the Chanan's Chinese Restaurant in the Eastgate Shopping Center directly next to the church. Everyone pays at the door. $8.00 per person.

Are you local in the DC area? Come join us one last time for a farewell.

Connecticut Shootings

Sitting at Mom and Dad's watching the news and feeling shocked and broken over the death of precious young lives in Connecticut. At an Elementary school of all places. Almost 30 lives lost. Dear, Lord we need grace. Why? Sin? Is that it? We do know this... Sin defiles God's plans and leads to death. Sometimes through cancer. Sometimes through a car accident. Sometimes through a shooting. All of it hurts. All of it makes me us long for the fullness of God's kingdom to come. The kingdom where we won't know any of this grief and pain.

Meanwhile, we suffer. While we wait.

But remember we don't just wait idly. We engage the kingdom. We bring it. We actively usher in God's purposes within the realm we've been given influence over. Are you doing this?

At times like this, we all want to point toward who and what my be to blame for the tragedy. A common question asked is "how does someone get so messed up that they could do something like this?"

A few thoughts in my mind this evening as I process aloud:

1. People long to make a difference in the world. An impact that is remembered. This is one way to do it. Not the way many of us want to. But a way some would. Hard to understand? Sure. But a reality? Yes.

2. If we watch enough sexually elicit media, we eventually act out what we poured in. Likewise, when we pour violence and murder into people through movies and video games (many of which are TERRIBLE) we can only expect the same to come out. Why would we be surprised? Many young people invest hundreds of hours into murdering people in games. It sticks.

3. Anger? Could be.

4. Reaction? Perhaps.

5. Mental illness? Incredibly possible. And very real. all points back to the same issue. A sin contaminated reality. A kingdom that is not yet fully here.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." I Peter 5:10

Missions in America

This morning I woke up early to a view of the Manhattan skyline in New York City. It was moving. I spent my time with Jesus staring at the city. I prayed over New York…and America. I felt like I grabbed a glimpse of God's heart after asking him for it. As you may know, I grew up in America. But, I now live in Africa where I serve in missions. We work for Jesus. We try to do what he asked us to do. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we do not.

After two years of living in Africa, my family and I are spending 6 weeks in our home country, the United States of America. While here, we have been speaking with groups of Christians ranging from 3-1,000 sharing about our work in hopes of their support and partnership with us in faith, friendship and funding.

While sharing about missions in Africa, I have had something I thought was true be reinforced.

America is a difficult mission field. Sure, there are challenges in Africa. There would be enemy resistance anywhere we are advancing God's purposes. But, America seems to be an especially difficult place. Time and time again over these last few weeks, I have had people look at me with fear in their eyes and say: "Where would I even start?" Going to the lost, engaging them, discipling them and gathering them seems like foreign concepts for only a foreign land.

Yes, this is a hard land. The love of money, success and self mixed with the rusty witness of the gospel emerging from many of her churches are just some of the contributing dynamics.

Yet, there is reason for great hope!!! Why? Because people are asking "where do I start"? Because there is so much hunger for something real, relational and eternal that you can almost taste it in the air. Because the private, distant, individualistic way in which many people come across is really only an indicator that there is enough pain present to welcome healing. Because there are many "Christians" all over this great land that are dissatisfied with church as it has been that will join the army of disciple makers that is raising up. Because there is enough generosity and passion and resource within the borders of America to shock whole nations with grace and love. Because the Holy Spirit is brilliantly at work in the hearts of many, many people raising them up to be more interested in making disciples than starting churches.

And because YOU have what it takes to be a gospel sowing, kingdom builder right where you are right now. If you live in America and claim Jesus as your savior, you have call to missions in America. Go for it, Missionary!

Landis Homes; Thick with Honor

Last night I experienced one of the greater privileges I have tasted in a long, long time. Our friend June Kauffman paved the way for us to visit Landis Homes (A Mennonite Retirement Community in Lancaster County, PA) where many retired saints live. We held an evening of missions sharing in their West Bethany Chapel and shared about our work and ministry in South Africa and other parts of Africa. Picture this chapel-- where there would have been saints ranging from ages 70-100+. Now, check this out...a large handful of the elderly friends in that room last night prepared the way for what we get to do today a continent away!! I met people who served in very the places we are serving (mainly East Africa) in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s...and there parents and family served in the 1930s and 1940s! They paved the way. They laid foundations in missions. They built trust. And they did it when it was even harder than it is now.

As the evening progressed, my eyes opened more and more to the privilege I was living out last night. That room was thick with honor. The cumulative total of the sacrifice, the generosity, the suffering for the gospel, the faith, the prayer power, the stories, the love for Jesus, the legacies....WOW!!! As the evening ended, I looked at Tricia and said, I consider speaking to these 40-50 people as more meaningful than speaking to 1,000 people.

I just feel grateful for the sacrifices of those that have gone before us in missions. Our open doors and fruit has very little to do with us, and much more to do with the road that has been paved by faithful servants of the past and the precious Holy Spirit preparing and germinating the soil.

Types of Authority

I have plenty of blogs running in my head, but no time to crank them out these days. Here is one...that I would love to develop later with Biblical backing and other research.  But as for now, here are some initial thoughts to begin development. I am coming to think that there are 4 different types of authority that people can walk in:

  1. Natural Authority. This is when a person just carries themselves naturally in a way that people honor them and look to them. They are respect and trust earners. Person does not even need to be a person of faith. They just carry authority in how they speak, influence and interact with people. Think Grandpa or that teacher you had that everyone looked to. Natural authority is hard to quantify and describe. You either have it or you don't. And you almost always know it when it's there. 
  2. Physical Authority. Authority can be earned by something as simple as how one carries themselves. Their walk, their dress, their tone, the expressions, their voice, their height. While it is similar to natural authority, there is slight difference. This authority may not come natural on the inside, but it projects naturally from the outside.  
  3. Positional Authority. This is when a person walks in the authority of the position they carry. They may be the boss or the principal or the Pastor or the manager. They carry the title. So, with it, they carry some level of authority. Though, limited when it is the only type of authority they walk in. 
  4. Spiritual Authority. This is a very special and powerful type of authority. It comes from anointing of the spirit. It comes from Jesus...from time with Jesus. Spiritual authority is earned in the secret when you make war with the enemy and press into the heart of the Lord. There is an overflow of confidence from that intimacy that is like no other type of influencing currency you can ever attain. 
A few more thoughts:
  • Authority is not the goal. Influence is. Particularly influence for the sake of the Kingdom. Getting people to Jesus is the goal.
  • It is very rare for one person to have 3 or all 4 of the above types of authority. But, when they do, there is major potential for impact at a large scale.
  • People with positional authority and without natural or spiritual authority have very little influence. More often than not, they are a lame duck and the joke is on them.
  • If you want to long for any of these, go after spiritual authority. Get closer and closer to Jesus so you can used gained authority in the spirit to influence people into Jesus.
  • If you do not already carry natural authority, you probably won't get it by trying. Just relax and be you. Not everyone is called to lead in authority.
  • I have found the following to be true as the stars in the sky: the most powerful authority to walk in is the kind that comes from the Lord (natural and spiritual) so be cautious against longing for position. It can actually decrease your authority. I have seen it happen in my own life...even as recent as the last six months.

JDx training this weekend...register now!

We are getting super excited about JDx happening this weekend in the DC area!  We just learned that there are even people flying in from Michigan to join us...people that are connected to our work in Kenya! So neat how the Lord networks people for his purposes. Hey-- registration is still open.  Just shoot an email to today and you are all set. All the times, cost and details are on the PDF below. Just click on it.

Spread the word. Come join us! This Friday and Saturday. Lanham, MD.

JDx at CCF Dec 2012

Bullet update of our trip so far...

  • We have been back in the USA since Friday morning. So far, so great! Warm welcomes and gracious visits all around. Our family really rolled out the red carpet for us!
  • We are still jetlagged.  It is lasting longer than it usually does this time. Not sure why. I have been up at 2:30am, 3:45am and then today 4:15am. Guess things are moving in the right direction. Davis joined me at 4:30 again this morning.
  • Yesterday, we were at our home church and it was a PARTY!!! They welcomed us like pros. I dare someone to find a more supportive home church and spiritual family than Capital Christian Fellowship.
  • Want to hear something cool? We got almost 1/4 of our needed additional support in ONE HOUR yesterday morning at our home church! People showed up and GOD showed off!
  • Today is all about the 4 of us reconnecting. Family day. With a little Walmart and Target action. ;-)
  • Tomorrow is all about Visas for three more years. We go to DC and submit all our hard work and paperwork to the SA Embassy. Pray for favor.
  • Wednesday we head to the shore with my entire family for a 4 day thanksgiving vacation in a holiday house that sleeps all 18 of us! We will need tranquilizers and have a BLAST!

Remembering when we left...looking ahead...

On the evening of January 11, 2011 I uploaded the video below. The next morning our family set out for Africa. 22 months later, we are heading back to visit family, with our season of living overseas far from over. These last two years have rocked our worlds and changed our lives forever. We are so excited for what is yet before us in spreading the glory of Jesus to the nations!

Searching for Partner Churches

Our family is heading to the USA in 15 days!! Read about that HERE. In order for us to return to and remain in Africa for this next 2 year term, we MUST raise additional funding. In fact, with rising costs in the US and here in South Africa, and the fact that we were slightly underfunded last term, we must raise another $2,000+ a month!  As a result, our time home will be very intense as we search for new partners and meet with churches and donors.

We still have 2 Sundays available to speak at churches during our trip. November 25 and December 23 (which is really the purpose of this blog). And maybe a third (December 16)...waiting to hear.  We would also have plenty of weekday opportunities to connect as well.

However, here's the deal...we need to spend those two Sundays with churches (not already partnering with us) that can take us on as new partners in mission starting in 2013 and beyond. We need churches that will not only partner with us in prayer and relationship, but will also commit to financially support our ministry.

Do you know of a church like this? One that loves mission and wants to partner with a family committed to see Africa and the Nations discipled toward Jesus?? Would you please help us?

PS- We are searching for PEOPLE too! Want to join in on what the Lord is doing? Email me at to become a regular partner or click HERE to donate now.

I still have bad theology!

This morning I got yet another revelation of an area of my life where I still have bad theology.

Confession: Deep down, I still believe that God's feelings for me are attached to my performance and actions. I still allow my ministry effectiveness, behavior and choices impact how I feel. When I am DOING enough for the Lord, he is happy with me. When I miss my devotions, his is upset at me. When I worship, he comes near again. When I sin, he runs away again.


My behavior is not the steering wheel for His love. When I am sinful, he is just as near and loves just as much as if I were sinless. If this is really how the love and grace of God works, than it is not a very special gift. And it is certainly NOT free like I have been told for years. No. I have to earn it to get it. Rubbish!

Paul makes a brilliant, and even angry plea for us to understand this theology in the book of Galatians when he writes to the Galatian churches about law vs. faith.  After the Judaizers told the Galatians that Paul's gospel was messed up because it was missing law, Paul gets ticked and brings the gospel to them again in stark terms. Watch this:

  • 2:16- A person is not justified by observing the law, but by faith is Jesus Christ.
  • 2:21- I do not set aside the grace of God. For if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.
  • 3:2-3- Did you receive the spirit by observing the law or believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?
  • 3:5- Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by your observing the law or by your believing what you heard?
  • 3:18- If the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise...the promise that God gave to Abraham and all of us who believe.

I could go on. But, I hope you get the point.

I know you have heard this 1,000 times before, but let me say it again. JESUS LOVES YOU!! Right here and right now! And there is nothing you can do to tweak his turn it up or turn it down. So stop believing the Devil's lies and thinking Jesus is drifting near and far based on your doing. While you were YET A SINNER HE DIED FOR YOU! He won't change his plans now. Trust me. So receive his love. And while you are at it...check your theology.  Because I can think of 10 people right now who are mature christians and still live like this.  Maybe you do too?

Movement in Kenya

These real words are from an email I just received from a powerful African leader in an exploding simple church movement in a rural region of Kenya:

"New believers are everywhere! We are seeing God move in lives greatly and God is working through them mightily. They passionately share Gods love and gospel boldly and am so happy encouraged. They are great tool for change. I am now serving alongside new converts. Recently, they were sinners but now they are servants of God. They just read the Bible and learn for themselves and Holy Spirit guides them into His truth. I am so happy God raised me co-workers like this. Pray well that they will grow in grace and faith. Movements are coming up with people who are selfless and who now don't need any title who just worship God anywhere we meet."

COME ON, LORD! Please don't miss what the Lord is doing on the earth. He is moving in the most precious ways across people groups. But, the truth is that there are still people who have never heard the name of Jesus. Are you part of seeing them meet the King?

JDx coming to Maryland!

Tricia and I are excited to announce that we will we be leading a JDx (Jesus Discipleship Experience) training at Capital Christian Fellowship in Lanham, Maryland on November 30 and December 1. Click on the image or PDF below for more info. Spread the word. Especially to church leaders you know (though it is for all people who want to make Disciples).

JDx at CCF Dec 2012

Three Levels of Authority

To differentiate between New Testament commands, apostolic practices and human customs has proven over the years to be most helpful, for settling church disputes, for ascertaining the level of authority for a church activity, and for making plans and establishing priorities. This method below is a simple one. I borrowed it from George Patterson and Brian Hogan. I find it helpful in my learning journey. I hope you do too. The FIRST level of authority is New Testament commands of Jesus. We must obey them and must not hinder others doing them. These include Jesus' commands, which are foundational, and those of the apostles written in their epistles. The basic commands of Jesus, which were being obeyed by the 3000 new believers in Acts chapter 2 in their most basic form, include:

  1. Repent, believe, and receive the Holy Spirit.
  2. Be baptized.
  3. Break bread.
  4. Love God, neighbor, fellow disciples, enemy (forgive).
  5. Pray.
  6. Give.
  7. Make disciples (witness, shepherd, teach).

The SECOND level are the things the Apostles and the early church did as an example to us which we may or may not follow depending on local circumstances. We must not make universal laws of these, nor prohibit others' doing them. They include:

  • Baptizing immediately.
  • Using one cup in the Eucharist.
  • Fasting.
  • Worshipping on Sunday.
  • Speaking in tongues.
  • Naming several elders to shepherd a church.
  • Etc.

The THIRD level is Human traditions not mentioned in the New Testament. We can take them or leave them, and we can prohibit them if they hinder obedience to New Testament commands. Their only authority is our voluntary agreement with them. We cannot force them and we must prohibit them if they impeded obedience. They include:

  • Non-biblical requirements for ordination, officiating communion, baptism, church membership.
  • Sunday School structure.
  • Wearing robes in the pulpit, not wearing robes in the pulpit.
  • The pulpit.
  • Church Buildings.
  • Altar Calls.
  • Monologue sermons.
  • Prohibition against using wine in moderation.
  • Democratic processes in church business meetings.
  • Etc.

Copyright © 2002 by George Patterson, Shared with permission

The Family is Coming to America!

It's time for the Lily debut! Our family is coming to the states together for the first time since leaving home January 12, 2011! We will be in the USA from November 16 until December 31.

Our goals for the trip:

  1. Significant family time
  2. Connecting with Friends
  3. Sharing stories and visits with our financial and ministry partners
  4. Fundraise for our next term (will need new supporters!)
  5. Teach what we have learned and share the stories of God moving in the Nations! (Will lead a JDx in Maryland--details coming)

Here is how you could help us in our preparation:

  1. Connect us with potential new financial or ministry partners (maybe it is YOU!) We want to spend time with people sharing the vision and gaining the financial support we need to continue the work the Lord is doing.
  2. Invite us to come share our work and speak to crowds. This could be a church, bible study, board meeting, or a party you throw for us and all your friends. We still have some dates available.
  3. Plan a party for us and your friends or neighbors that do not follow Jesus yet!  Jesus has put it on our hearts to include people in the joy of what we do even if they are not "churched"! We would love to share what is happening in the world with plain ole good people that may not go to your church.
  4. Pray for us. We are looking for 45 people that will pray for the 45 days we are in the USA. Would you be one?

44 days and we depart! Looking forward to seeing you.  Will you help us make the trip a success?

Please Confront Me

It usually stings to get confronted by people. At least that's been my experience. We feel stupid. We feel attacked or judged. At least that's how I used to feel. I would most often feel this sense of discouragement. Picked on, not loved on. But over the last few years, all that has changed. Now, when I am confronted I feel so loved!! Deeply cared for. In fact, when someone helps me see where I dropped the ball, I feel so special. They care enough about me to help me instead of leave me the way I am. They love me so much that they're wiling to put themselves in an awkward position by telling me their feelings. Wow. How powerful.

Recently, I said something hurtful to a guy. Then, he came to me within the hour and told me. I was so thankful for him that it moved me to tears. He REALLY loved me that day. Instead of judgement, I got grace in the form of honesty.

Tricia asked me a few weeks ago to tell her what would make me feel more loved by her. One of the top three on my list was "do not hold back on me in places where I can grow to be more like Jesus"!

It's as simple as this: insecure and prideful people hate being confronted. Secure and humble people love it!

Which do you want to be?

Acts 17- A Prophetic Message

This morning, I read Acts 17 and verses 19-24 really grabbed me. I feel that they are a prophetic reminder for the church today!

Here is the text:

19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

Here are the thoughts and questions it raised for me:

  1. Paul had a "new teaching". What is our new and fresh message that Jesus has asked us to deliver?  And they may sound strange (v. 20). I know that the stuff we are teaching traditional believers on this training trip are certainly strange.
  2. Are you just listening to the new ideas? Or are you doing something about it? If you are, then what is it you are doing?
  3. What are our unknown idols? In what ways are we a modern day Athens?
  4. How, in the ways we do church, are we communicating the message that God does not live in buildings made by human hands?

I just sense that this passage and the events that happened surrounding it are a message that we need to pay close attention to today.

Is there anything you see that you could share? Feel free to comment.

Emotional First Fruits

We all experience joys and pains as we walk with Jesus. Victories and Defeats. And we long to share them. While listening to a teaching this morning, I encountered a brilliant reality that I desperately needed to hear. Here is the truth: The person to whom we take the first-fruits of our emotions to is the one we become intimate with. The first-fruits of our pain.  The first-fruits of our joy.

I am convicted. Because I realize that countless times, I have taken the first-fruits of my emotions to people (wife, parents, co-worker, overseer, a friend). I will tell people in full color what I was feeling before ever talking to God for even a minute. Then, sometime the next day or so, I will talk to God about everything in 1 minute with no detail, because, after all, the Lord already knew (he must have heard the 45 minute version I gave my friend). However, the reality is that I gave my first fruits of emotions away to people instead of God.

The byproduct of this is: we build great horizontal relationships while we weaken our vertical one.

In Psalm 25:1, David was in a great deal of pain. He was really hurting. He could have gone to a lot of people. But he took his pain to the Lord. It says..."Unto thee, Oh Lord do I lift up my soul"!  Then, BAM...he let's God have the first fruits. Not people.

I think this is a lesson I have been learning.  A change I have been making. But now I see it much more clearly.  And I intend to live this.

Jesus gets the first fruits.  Not just financially, but emotionally.