Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mini-update France

Hey friends! I would love to speak to you or your friends about reaching a French-speaking community of 60,000 who have no church on the outskirts of Paris.
I'd like to join a church-planting team of 2 French and 2 American families under a French Pastor and his wife.
That means I am heading to the Mission field finally but still need one-time donations & especially MONTHLY partners. I've raised almost $12,000 in one time donations (=55% of $ needed to move & set up house).
But I've only raised 22% of my monthly budget. I DON'T GET TO MOVE PERMANENTLY UNTIL I GET 100% coming in.
I still need about 100 more monthly partners. Monthly pledges can be as little as much as your budget allows. Couples, groups, or single individuals can sponsor.
I'm aiming for the end of the year to be fully funded.
Let's sit down together if you think you can help, want to hear more or just ask questions. Contact here or at cell 843 446 3348. twitter@ Ricardo33AD

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summit Day 1: An Unscripted Response

I look forward all year to the Leadership Summit sponsored and put on by Willowcreek as my recharger for the year. In fact I was so excited about it 2 weeks ago that I was unable to be nervous about presenting my Mission to France to my church that Sunday. 4 minutes to talk was not nearly enough. The total presentation was 8 minutes because of my 4 minute video. Essentially I shared that I hve been nurtured and trained by Christ United Methodist Church for 10 years to do what I think God is calling United World Mission to do in France;make disciples and plant and strengthen churchs in France in the Paris Region.
My takeaway was (1) knowing I made it clear that I'm leaving, (2)that God wants France to experience what we're aiming for here in the US in exposure to and living out of the Gospel, and (3)that I need monthly support to get there!
I made several new friends that day in terms of monthly partners that advanced me another 10% or so. That should put me at 30% of the monthly budget approximately! Severl one-time donations as well were much appreciated bringing my Moving Expenses (a one-time need of about 20,000) to 55% or $11,000.
The most satisfying gain however was ALL and ONLY for the Kingdom in the receiving of the vision for cross-cultural missions by several individuals at the service. They were so excited and desperate to learn how to move forward after hearing in my call...a similar call of their own! Knowing someone else will go because I aid yes to the call is so very inspiring and gives me the strength to keep fundraising!
I had little time to internalize all of this after the Sunday presentation because that ame week I headed to New York to help Jon and Tracey Bartholomew celebrate their wedding. Justin Newcomb and I flew up to stand with our former lifegroup member. We 3 met at Fusion and have stayed close even tho we all have moved on to other groups. The wedding, and the trip were made beautiful by the way Jon&Tracey's friends and family opened their hearts to us as if we were long-time friends!
I returned late, very late Monday night from New York and set my heart and face towards the Summit. I reviewed Titus as we finished studying it in my Men's group. Loudest and clearest I heard that we become fit for the good works to which we are called when we submit to the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit made available by the Ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
I heard and accepted maybe for the 1st time that Paul is saying that we achieve the qualifications of an elder or generally of a disciple by recognizing that the Grace of Salvation is the power to say no to the evil in our hearts that we can't resisit on our own.
I heard that this Grace has been lavishly and extravagantly poured out on us in order, as a consequence of transformation, to excell in good works to which God calls us.
For me that means submitting to the pruning hand of the master who is both the Vine and the vinedresser!
So it was no surprise that I heard that "theme" over and over in the 4 Summit sessions today.
Bill Hybels, my favorite gospel motivator and leadership mentor, began with a challenge to the Church Worldwide. He set the stage for all the messages that follow by acknowledging that all of what we will learn in these 2 days is set against the backdrop of the Global Economic Crisis. Resources dificulties have changed ministry and things may never return to what we for the last decade or 2 called "normal."
But this change CAN BE the perfect opportunity for God to show His power and might in our cultures because we have to depend on Him in ways we never have.
When He quoted Habakkuk 3:2 I wept inside and out for God to DO just THIS:
LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
I wept for 2 reasons.
1-I have felt this same call to action after every Summit since the 1st I attended 4 years ago.
2-I KNOW THAT I KNOW that it is as simple as depending on God to show Himself strong in our weakness.
As leaders we have to SUBMIT to this vision by living Romans 8:6.
6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
Then when we as leaders and as a congregation have submitted then God will begin to use us for those impossible good works. He's looking for folks who are worthy and able to be USED BY HIM...not worthy by actions but by their hearts...
2 Chronicles:9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
Simply put, this crisis COULD be seen as a major opportunity.
Session 2 Was a lot about management but part 2 focused on how we don't have to let management become an internally focused inertia that keeps us from acting in this exponentially challenging and changing time.
Gary Hamil in fact upped the ante by confiding a secret...we believers, as "the Church" are God's whole plan to bring the Gospel of His Son Jesus to the entire World; the IS NO PLAN B. In Compassion and community no one ought to be able to outdo the Church!
Session 3 I had been anticipating as much as Hybel's talk, unusually so, because I had already heard a few sermons preached online by Tim Keller. He preaches the "Gospel" in a way I have rarely heard.
If I summarize it I will not do it justice. So I'll just say that He demanded and exhorted us that no teaching or preaching is COMPLETE without connecting it all the way back to what JESUS did on THE CROSS. He modeled that by unpacking just the beginning and end of Psalm 23.
1The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.... 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
We can understand and achieve the spiritual fulfillment of verse one only when we remember that we lack nothing because we had a Saviour who on the cross said "I thirst." he experienced it so that we could be free from it. Our cup overflows with rejoicing because he drank the entire cup of God's full wrath and judgment in our place!
It will take me the rest of my life to unpack and apply this way of learning from God through the Bible!
Not surprisingly Keller then gave us the application for this message on how to be revived from spiritual deadness: APPLY it 1st to our own hearts as leaders, then help those who depend on our leadership to do the same. Then all of us together DO what the Gospel then commands in Compassion and Community.
True Salvation and TRANSFORMATION will follow!
Session 4 was the easiest to summarize because it was an indictment against all the training and leadership development that we do not only at the Summit but on a monthly and wekly basis in our congregations. We build into each other and like athletes getting ready for a game we huddle for 5 minutes once a week on Sunday. In fact we huddle for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour..sometimes several hours.
Then the huddle ends...
and we go home until we come back to "huddle" again the following week!
I was undone by this talk the most emotionally because for me it was the culmination of all the talks today and years of Holy Discontent focused on how to get believers fully alive in Christ and fully reaching out to the broken, poor, lost in our community and abroad.
He was the only paid staff in his church until recently...a 2nd full-timer was just hired.
YET his congregation has prayed with (or for if absent) EVERY HOUSEHOLD in their zip code in inner city Detroit! He and his menhave closed 8 crack houses by just camping outside them 100 strong and singing and praying!?!?
He proposed something utterly ridiculous:
That we do outreach and "Ministry" on Sunday when we have the largest #s of the Body gathered in one place and empowered to DO IT. He teaches for xample on evangelism, does a skit on how to do it wrong, how to do it right....
Outrageous, huh? He didn't mince words. He REBUKED us for HIRING staff to DO MINISTRY instead of hiring vibrant, resilient, capable staf to EMPOWER & EQUIP the congregation to DO MINISTRY!
My mind is still reeling. That's today's meat in a nutshell. May we not only digest it but apply it, live it, DO IT.
May we properly submit our hearts to Gospel Renewal, preach and teach Gospel-centered principles from the Bible, and then let the Gospel empower us to DO IT!
(Micah 6:8)
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.