October 30, 2017

It’s another beautiful Monday in Fort Worth/White Settlement! It’s also the day before Halloween and I have already eaten too much candy. What about you? Tomorrow is also the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day. I wonder today how many of you can tell me what Reformation Day is without googling it?

This coming Sunday we are kicking off November as Thankfulness Month (extremely original right?). But I truly believe thankfulness and gratefulness are at the core of having the heart of God. Think about how many different things we complain about every day and how few things we are genuinely thankful for. It seems sometimes in churches we see this even more, which is pretty sad. How many times have you gone to church and heard someone complain? It’s too hot, too cold. The preacher talks too long. The music is too loud. All we do is sing hymns. We never sing hymns anymore. Why is someone sitting in my seat? Why are we behind on the budget? Is the preacher ever going to wear a tie again? Ha. You can see that I could go on and on and that’s just at church. What is it like at your house? We had a really good sermon Sunday night from a young man with 3 children aged 7, 4, and 3. He used them several times in his illustrations, describing how rough it was with 3 little ones. He wasn’t necessarily complaining but I just kept sitting there thinking, “Oh my, I know they are a lot of work, but you will miss these days all too soon.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective. And from his perspective he would probably say, “Old man, you have just forgotten how tough it was.” Ha. Probably so but as he said, even in the midst of trials we are called to find joy. 1 Thessalonians says give thanks in everything but that can be difficult. I think today about several in our body who are fighting cancer. I think of a young mother we have known since she was a child who is fighting brain cancer today. I pray for them and I am looking for how to be thankful. I am thankful for their testimony in the midst of their trial. May I be so brave and courageous when my trial comes . . . and it will. It does for all of us. But may we be thankful and find joy even there . . . maybe even especially there.

We just finished October Missions Month at FBCWS and I wanted to say thanks to all who helped make it an amazing month. We had live missionaries on the middle weekend and we had videos from 4 other international missionaries on the other weekends. These were missionaries serving in Africa and Amsterdam and Greece and Poland. I hope you will be praying for each of them and support them however God leads. We also had 4 videos from our Missions Team describing what Missions is and what it means for us right here in Texas. They also did an amazing job and I thank God for them. Hopefully you were challenged to live On Mission each and every day. This is a call that we will continue preach. Growing in discipleship and reaching out in evangelism and being the child of God He created you to be for His glory and not yours.

During the month of October I intentionally did not mention Athens, Greece. I want our church to understand that our focus is on Missions, first here, and then around the world. I keep telling people, and Gayle echoed this yesterday, but Athens was a match to help light the fire of passion for Missions in many hearts. Some of you need to go. Maybe to Athens or maybe somewhere else. In case you didn’t know, we have partnered with the IMB missionaries in Athens and we plan to go back over the next several years. Our goal is not to make missions a sightseeing trip to places around the world. We are involved in Athens because we feel this is where God has led us. We will continue there until God leads us somewhere else. We currently have a trip planned for April 2018 #MissionAthens2018. We still have a couple of spots available but we want to nail down who is going in the very near future. So come talk to me if you are interested. If not this coming spring then I am going to begin to pray and seek some of you out who truly need to go. You probably don’t even know that you need to go . . . but you do. I used to lead Youth on Mission Trips all over the United States but I never felt like I needed to go overseas until I read David Platt’s book called “Radical.” David was a pastor when he wrote that book and now he is the President of the International Mission Board. I was challenged and I went. And I didn’t regret it. It is often hard to explain to people so instead I just encourage you to try for yourself. Begin saving and praying and planning. God wants to light a fire in your life. Are you willing to let Him?

I know I am running long here but I want to finish up by saying thank you to all of you who are praying for my wife as she leaves this Thursday for a month in Athens. As part of our church’s partnership there she is going to assist our IMB missionaries and to help alleviate some of their home responsibilities for a month. God has already miraculously provided a job for Jennifer when she comes back and we know He will take care of our other financial needs during this time without her income. God continues to show us as we are obedient to Him He will not leave us without hope.

Last thing. Here are some recent postings from Will in Athens about what God is doing there among the refugees. May they encourage you today about how God is at work around the world:

Met for an hour with an Iraqi brother today. We talked about people he is baptizing this month from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Palestine. God is at work among the nations in this city!
5 years ago I met a Bangladeshi Muslim selling items at a street light. Multiple conversations later he accepted a copy of the Jesus film. A few weeks later he asked for 40 more to send to his village back in Bangladesh! I haven't seen him for 3 years. We just assumed he moved further up into Europe to find work.
Today I saw him again! He immediately recognized me and gave me a big hug. He said he got his papers to stay in Greece and then travelled back to Bangladesh for 6 months. He has been back for a few months now. As soon as he got home he sat down and watched the Jesus film with his family. He said "my heart feels clean when I watch it". He also told me his entire village has watched the movie.
Pray that he, his family, and village all put their faith in the man they watched in the movie!
Texting with a Pakistani brother last night who is in an internment camp because of expired papers. We had lost touch and now I know why! He said his faith has never been stronger. He is the only believer in the camp. Please pray for Asam, he is sharing everyday and knows there is a reason he is there.

To God be the Glory!!

I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?