Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Heading To Nigeria

This Saturday (October 30th) I will be heading to Lagos, Nigeria!! I will be traveling and ministering with a team of 6 others from the States. I was invited by my good friend and former classmate at Moody, Blessed Madugba. He grew up in Nigeria and initially came to the United States to study at Moody (back in January of 2002). The Lord has put it on Blessed’s heart to equip and empower other African pastors and leaders through an organization he is starting called “Hallomai.” Hallomai is the Greek word for the word “leap” and it’s mission is to educate, equip, and empower church leaders in Africa and Asia. During this trip we will participate in both a Pastor's Conference and local church ministry in the city of Lagos. This conference will be the first ministry initiative of Hallomai. I have been asked to teach a workshop at the conference. I will be teaching on the holistic impact of the Gospel! Lord willing, I will be sharing how the Gospel leads us to not only do evangelism, but to also contend for justice and reach out to our neighbors with compassion and mercy. I will also be doing some preaching in the evenings after the conference in various churches there.

I am so honored and humbled to be a part of this team. Although I will be teaching while I am there, I am also traveling as a learner. I know that I have so much to learn from pastors in Nigeria and from the church there! I am excited to build with believers there and to be an encouragement to one another. I covet your prayers for this trip!

Here is our itinerary:
Sat 10/30 & Sun 10/31 Travel to Nigeria
Mon 11/1 Get our "bearings"
Tue 11/2 - Sunday 11/7 Local Church Ministry
Mon 11/8 Lagos Conference
Tues 11/9 Conference Concludes/Time in Lagos
Wed 11/10 - Thurs 11/11 Return to Chicago
*There may still be some schedule changes, but this is a general guideline of our time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Remembering My Grandpa

On Friday evening my Grandpa Clark went home to be with Jesus. He died peacefully, with the family at his bedside. He was 93. Over the last couple of days I have been thinking of the things that I appreciated most about my grandpa and his life.

First of all my grandpa was faithful to the LORD. He came to know the Lord at the age of 23 years old (neither of his parents were believers). He would walk with Him for 70 years! He spoke often about the Lord and His faithfulness in his life. Over the years I observed him witness to waitresses, store owners, relatives, etc. He loved Jesus and He loved to tell others about Him! He also loved to sing praises to God! I have vivid memories of him singing SO LOUD at whatever church he visited. It sometimes embarrassed us, but he didn't care...he was going to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

Second, he was faithful to his wife. My grandparents were married for 64 years!! They have 3 kids, 8 grandkids, and a growing number of great grandkids. As a grandkid, I (and we) could count on a few things from grandpa: a huge hug when we saw him, an occasional mini-sermon or quoted Scripture verse, a "Reader's Digest" joke, and a lot of laughs. He loved to play games and cards at the kitchen table with all of the family! I greatly respect and admire the way my grandparents placed high value on the things that really mattered. My grandpa never had nice "stuff," but he has passed on his faith, his love for people, and the joy that characterized his life.

Finally, he was faithful in ministry. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul exhorted Timothy to "preach the word: be ready in season and out of season." My grandpa never stopped preaching the Word! When he no longer served the Lord in formal ministry, he continued to preach the Word to whomever would listen. He spent 50 plus years of His walk with the Lord serving Him in ministry as a pastor, a singer, and an evangelist. He served as a pastor at churches in Port Huron, Lansing, Novi, and Decatur MI. He was known for his passionate proclamation of the Word, and for a passion for missions. In his later years, he would preach evening services at a church in Sylmar CA, and continued to occasionally fill pulpits into his 80s.

Over the last few years, I have begun to preach at a few different churches. I really enjoyed sharing with my grandpa what I had preached on and where I had preached. Ever since I began serving in ministry in 2001, he has let me know that he is praying for me and that the Lord was using me to do a good work. His encouragement meant so much to me.

In a few days I will be giving the "memorial message" at the cemetery where he will be buried. I am so honored and humbled to do this. I know my grandpa would want me to preach the Gospel. So Lord willing, I will lift up the Name of Jesus as we say goodbye to a man who loved to do the same thing.

I love you grandpa and I look forward to singing with you in the presence of the Lord!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Thinking About "Radical"

During the middle of August I bought I book that I had been curious about for a while, called "Radical" by David Platt. It didn't disappoint my expectation. I quickly read through the book in a week and a half. I am revisiting the book to day, to further chew on some of the things in the book that resonated with me and challenged me.

One thing I appreciate about Platt as he writes is that he has been "marked" by his travels to various parts of the world where he has seen followers of Christ live out their faith amongst the difficulties of persecution and poverty. Upon returning from a trip to Asia where Christianity is forbidden by the government, he had this reflection to offer, "...I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves (pg 7)."

He sums up the main idea of the book on page 13 where he states, "We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist Him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, want us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream."

Later he reflects on the Church displayed in Acts and expresses this as a "dream" for the Church today. He states, "I cannot help but long to be a part of this kind of scene in the church today. A scene were we refuse to operate in a mind-set dominated by an American dream that depends on what we can achieve with our own abilities. A scene where we no longer settle for what we can do in our own power. A scene where the church radically trusts in God's great power to provide unlikely people with unlimited, unforeseen, uninhibited resources to make His name known as great. I want to be a part of that dream (pg. 53)."

I also like the way he unpacks the "great why of God." He states, "God blesses His people with extravagant grace so they might extend His extravagant grace to all peoples on the earth (pg 69)." Later he adds, "It centers on His greatness, His goodness, and His glory being made known globally among all peoples. And to disconnect God's blessings from God's global purpose is to spiral downward into an unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God's grace (pg 71)."

One last thing (for this blog entry at least) that I liked was how he challenges his congregation with the question of whether they are "receivers" or "reproducers" of God's Word. In other words, are you going to church to get "YOUR" Word, or rather to take what you've heard and passing it on to others (making disciples). He asks, "What if we began to think, how can I listen to this Word so that I am equipped to teach his Word to others?" Although, I realize that God can speak to us individually through the teaching of His Word and convicts us and challenges us to change. However, too often we stop here and limit it to only personal application. I like that he is pushing ALL of his congregation to be teachers of the Word by having a "reproducer" mindset.

I may write some additional blog entries as I continue to chew on this book. It is definitely worth picking up. Stay tuned...