We are nearing the close of our 11th day here in India. Both Freddie and I had intentions of posting a lot more than we have, but we are kept pretty busy most days and when we are able to get time to write – we usually end up spending it reading or having conversations with Babu and learning as much as we can about his ministry and how things work here.

To say this has been a learning experience would be putting it mildly. Not only have we been blessed to learn more about GCM as a whole, we have learned about culture, language, and have gotten to know Babu and his family more. It doesn’t seem like we have been here for almost two weeks, yet it also seems like we have been here longer.

Continue reading “Update from India”

I had the opportunity to share the Word of God this week with my brothers and sisters here in India. I chose adoption as my first topic. One of the reasons I desired to preach on adoption is because adoption is something personal in my life. My mother was a young teenager when she became pregnant. It was the 1960’s, in the midst of racial divisions and tensions. As broken hearted as she was to do so, it was decided I would be put up for adoption when I was born. I was two years old before actually being adopted. Although being adopted gave me a chance to be part of a family; the family I was adopted into was not loving and I felt as though I was not valued as part of the family.

Continue reading “Godly Adoption”

I’m so full of joy as I spend my days here in Kerala, India. The hospitality shown from Babu and his family is amazing. I’m convicted of my lack of it…

The passion shown in worship shows their love for Jesus! Their songs although not understandable to us, are full of passionate worship to our Lord and Savior. When I look into their eyes I see a hunger to communicate and express their love for the Lord and us as a mission team.

Continue reading “Pure Joy”

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. – Psalm 98:4

Day 1 of the pastor’s conference is in the books. It went from approximately 6:00pm-9:30pm local time. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the pace has been an adjustment here compared to the busy lifestyles and full schedules we keep in America. Knowing that and experiencing it are two different things. As we arrived at the conference, we were rushed from our car to the open air worship area and were ushered to our seats. Many of the pastors and other locals were already there. Some have traveled a large distance as Babu has been involved in planting 40+ churches in the area.

Continue reading “Patiently Worship”

As Christians prayer should be second nature. It plays an important part of our walk and is our way of communicating with our heavenly Father. As his children, we should always be desiring to lift our praise and requests to our Father. He is a good Father who will give his children what they need (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:11-13). Throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus serving as our example of how and when we should pray. The disciples didn’t miss this and asked him how they should pray (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-13). Because of their question, we can now read his instructions on how to come before the Lord in prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we see Paul saying we should pray without ceasing.

So why do we make it so hard on ourselves?

Continue reading “Pray Without Ceasing”

As I write this blog I am sitting in the Dubai airport heading home. It is a bittersweet moment. Our hearts feel like they are in two places. We long to get home to see our family, but our goodbyes with our brothers and sisters in Christ was difficult.

At about 11:00 p.m. last night we were standing in Babu’s living room singing a Malayalam Hymn, followed by prayer, and then followed by tears. Yes, we only spent a week with these people, but there is a deepness to our bond. One that can only be explained by the Holy Spirit. Through the blood of Jesus Christ we are adopted into the same family of God, and therefore we love our family.

It is with this love that we desire to help our brothers and sisters. Before we left our team set some goals for each of us to strive for. The first is to be committed to pray daily for GCM. Second, we are committed to personally assist financially with GCM. Third, we are going to reach out to friends, family, churches, and communities to encourage them to consider sponsoring a pastor for five years. The cost to sponsor a pastor and his family is $50/month. Currently there are 35 pastors that need sponsoring. Fourth, we are going to attempt to speak at churches regularly to introduce them to GCM and the gospel opportunities that are available.

We would ask anyone who has been reading about our trip to prayerfully consider partnering with us, and partnering with GCM. If God directs your heart to help, please contact us on our website or via facebook.

Yesterday, we visited two churches. One church meets on the second floor of a three story business building. They rent the space. Justin preached on having faith in God.

The other Church we visited was in the midst of a rock quarry. The church building was right on top of a large piece of black Indian granite. It was a one room building that was 20′ by 50′. The building was comparable to an abandoned garage in America. Having said that, GCM is very thankful to have it. This is one of five churches where they own the building and the land underneath. For the other thirty churches they are renting space, or meeting in homes.

The cost to purchase land and build a one room church building is $20,000. Due to a majority of the parishioners being poor, the likelihood of this happening is very slim; however, with God all things are possible.

The people do not seem to be affected by the poor conditions (or lack there of) of their church buildings. The outside of the Church may not be beautiful, but when the inside is filled with the praises of God, it melts your heart. Why? It is because their faith is founded the Rock of Jesus Christ, not on things of this world. Their joy is not found in how nice their buildings look, or how comfortable their chairs are (many churches have no chairs). Their joy comes from knowing the steadfast love of the Lord.

At our first church visit, Freddie preached on being chosen by God before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). It is a powerful reality to know that God has loved you before there was a you. God tells us that He has loved you forever. After Freddie’s message, a man named Lubies (our driver), approached Javan and said, “Good sermon. Tears.” He then made a motion with his hands of tears coming down his face.

I would exchange the greatest Church building in America, for a church full of people with hearts like Lubies.

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2 ESV)

On February 2, 2015, I and a group of six individuals will be traveling to Kerala, India to partner with Grace Christian Ministries to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God willing. When hearing this, many people ask “Why India?” With that I respond, “I’m glad you asked.”

India is a nation of 1.3 billion people. Approximately 2% of the population adheres to Christianity. The largest religion is Hinduism at 81%. India is an extremely diverse nation and there is an estimated 2,256 separate people groups (People groups are groups of people with similar language and cultural practices). Recently, according to Open Doors, India rose to its highest ranking of No. 21 on the World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.

India is found in what is called the 10/40 window. This is a rectangular area that includes North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It lays approximately between 10 and 40 degrees north latitude, hence its name (If you are interested in the location of this area, Google 10/40 Window). Another term for the 10/40 window is “The Resistant Belt.” The 10/40 window is dominated by four religious ideologies: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the non-religious. In addition, the 10/40 Window is also home to a majority of the world’s poor population.

As a Christian, these figures should break our heart. Millions and millions of people in the nation of India sit in spiritual darkness and are destined for Hell. Their only hope is Jesus Christ. Jesus says very clearly, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He also says, “”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).

If the Bible is true (which it is) and the statistics are true (which I assume they are), then at this moment 1.2 billion people are condemned to go to Hell. The only way to change that is for them to believe in Jesus. That is it. Nothing else will change their destiny, only their belief in Jesus Christ. Many self-proclaimed Christians claim to believe this, yet do nothing that matches this belief as it relates to the lost.

Romans 10:14-15 says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”

The bottom line is that if you are not going or sending, you are disobeying (Borrowed from John Piper). It is time for us to repent and instead of saying, “Why India?” say “Why not India?”

Sermon Given at Woolson Church – March 11, 2012

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” – John 21:15-19

Do you love me? These were the stinging words that Jesus used to restore Peter. These simple, yet powerful words were used by Christ to pierce the heart of Peter (Hebrews 4:12) and to bring Peter back into a right relationship with his Master. These are the words that launched Peter into a radical life for Christ.

Today, we are going to look at these four words: Do you love me? We are going to unpackaged these versus. We are going to go to the banks of the Sea of Tiberius and sit around the fire and feel its warmth. We are going to look upon Jesus as Peter looked upon Jesus and experience the anguish Peter felt after denying Christ and the joy Peter felt after being restored by Christ.

My prayer and hope for this message is that all of you will hear the words “Do you love me” straight from the mouth of Christ and that they would penetrate your heart. That these words would be alive in you. And that they would ring in your ears and grieve you until you answer yes, you know that I love you. And that this love would be the catalyst to a sold out life to Christ.

Now, let us first start by taking a look at context. First of all let us look at the timing of this conversation. This conversation took place after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but before the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This was an in between time for the followers of Christ. In a way, it was a spiritual no man’s land. You can get a sense of this by what the disciples were doing. In verse 3, we see Peter say, “I am going fishing”. It appears that the disciples were slipping back into the common, into what was familiar. Into the rut of life. At this time they had been given the Great Commission to go to the ends of the Earth, but instead they went fishing.

Secondly, I think we need to understand the two parties involved in this conversation. Jesus and Peter. These two had an interesting relationship. If you recall Peter’s name originally was Simon, son of John. And it was Jesus who changed his name to Peter. He was also one of the few, if not only, person in existence that Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.” It was a tumultuous relationship. Not because of Christ, but because of Peter. He was all over the board. Peter wreaked of his flesh.

Now this conversation between Peter and Jesus was a crucial conversation. Have you ever heard that phrase before, crucial conversation? It was a name of a book written several years ago and it sold over 2 million copies. It was a book about having conversations that are life changing. Conversations that lead to a turning point in your life. I am sure you have experienced one or two of these in your life. Perhaps had one between you and your father, or mother, a teacher, or a pastor. For Peter this was definitely a life changing conversation. This was one of the last conversation that launched Peter forward into a radical following of Jesus Christ. After this he was preaching Christ to the same Jews that killed Christ, raising people from the dead, walking out of prisons. Eventually it led to Peter’s murder. And I believe that this conversation was fundamental to this surrendered life. So let us unpackaged this conversation.

First, what I find so interesting is that this conversation was merely a simple question. There was not a lot of moving parts. It was about one topic. “Do you love me?” That was it. Nothing more, nothing less. Do you love me? It was simple examination of Peter. A pop quiz of sorts. He wasn’t preaching, he was posing. Now, it is important to realize that this question, was not for Jesus. The reason for asking this question was not so Jesus would know the answer. This question was for Peter. It was for him to reflect upon. I wonder how often Peter did this? I wonder how often he sat down and reflected about his walk with Christ. Remember, Peter was the guy who would shot first and aimed second. He was a man of action. In fact, his clothes were probably still damp from jumping into the sea to swim to shore. Jesus was forcing Peter to come to a time of examination. A simple examination, but still a powerful one.

Now the next thing I want us to think about is that Jesus was requesting him to examine the relationship between him and Peter. He said Simon do YOU love ME. Recently I read a book called Not a Fan, and in this book the author was talking about the common conversation that couples have. He called it the Define the Relationship conversation, or DTR. This is when the guy and the girl sit down and try to figure out where there this is going. If they are on the same page. I am sure that all of you have been a part of a DTR before. It probably came up on your fourth of fifth date. You and your date were sitting down to eat, she was still eating salad and you were chomping down on a steak, and then the female asks out of the blue, “Where do you see this going?” The guy is totally confused. Then the question hits him like a ton of bricks. “Oh, you mean this? Where do you see this going?” What they girl is curious is about is where does she stand with him. How does the other person feel about her. This is exactly what Jesus was asking of Peter. Peter, how to you feel about me? Peter, do we have a future? Peter, are you committed to this relationship? Peter, define what I mean to you.

Next, we need to understand that this relationship that Jesus wanted Peter to reflect on was a relationship of love. Love. Jesus was point blank asking, do you love me. He wasn’t pulling punches or dancing around the bush. He was direct, and was getting, literally, to the heart of the matter.

Love is one of the most misunderstood words in the world. If I were to ask, what does love mean. I am guessing that all of you would have an answer. And I am guessing that all of your answers would be somewhat different. But in this passage, it is Christ who is posing this question, so we need to know what does Christ mean by love? How are we going to find out what Christ meant by love? How about His Word? What does Christ say that love is?

Turn to John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

When Jesus used the word love, he used it in a way that means this kind of love. He used the word love as He knows the word love. How did Christ love? He loved by dieing. He left the Glory that he had with his father and walked amongst the stench of humanity. The Light of the world came down into darkness and the darkness hated the light. He then laid down his life and died for us while we were still sinners. That is love. That is what Christ is talking about. That is what Jesus means when he asks Peter do you love me? Do you treasure me more than life itself. He is asking Peter, will you die for me?

This words pieced the heart of Peter. In verse 17 it says Peter was grieved. He had sorrow in his heart. The words of Christ hit him like a ton of bricks, crashing down upon his soul. At this moment he was broken and contrite. He was on his knees before the cross. He was on his knees before the King. This is the place Jesus wanted Peter to be. He wanted Peter with tears in his eyes, pain in his heart, sold out for Jesus Christ. If Peter was going to be used by Jesus, he had to love him. He had to love him. Bottom line, no exception. And this love can’t be a lukewarm love. It is a soulful, complete, authentic, reeking of truth and obedience kind of love. His love was crucial.

This is where Jesus wanted Peter, and this is where Jesus wants you. Phil, son of Tim, do you love me? John, son of Bob, do you love me. Mary, daughter of Richard, do you love me?

Have you allowed Jesus to sit on the shores of your life and pear into your heart and ask the simple question “Do you love me?” Have those words broken you down, stripped you of everything else. Have you examined your life and asked if you love a net full of fish, or do you love Jesus Christ. Do you love your job, or do you love Jesus. Do you love your health, or do you love Jesus. Do you love your life, or do you love Jesus.

Psalm 42:1 says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” Honestly, is that you? Can you say in your heart, to live is Christ and to die is gain? Do you treasure Christ above all things?

We have a choice to make, do you love Christ, or do you love something else. You cannot serve mammon and God. You cannot be lukewarm. You cannot be a dead branch attached to the Vine. Either you are a tree that bears fruit, or you don’t.

It is time for the Church to wake up and be willing to die for its King. It is willing for Woolson to say I love you Lord, take me where I don’t want to go. Take me to N. Korea, to India, to China, to Ottumwa, to Pekin, to my family, to my friends. Help me to love you more than life itself.