Friday, January 31, 2014

Women as Mothers, Daughters, and Singles: CROSS Con 2013

Panel: Women as Mothers, Daughters, and Singles
(We were asked not to give some of the names of this session for security purposes for those in risky places. I mostly took notes from the answers regarding single women's roles, as married women's roles are a bit more obvious :)  )

“Safety is not a high biblical value. We are told to lay down our lives.” Leeann Stiles

“The center of God’s will is the best place to be, but it’s not the safest.”

Tips for flourishing as singles overseas:
  • Be secure in singleness. Don’t think if you go God will give you a spouse.
  • Have good habit of prayer and reading the Bible.
  • Find a prayer partner/accountability partner.
  • Find a network of friends.
  • Expect loneliness. God uses it, prepare for it.
  • Spend some time on a hobby outside of ministry.
  • Don’t find your identity in your work. Your identity is in Christ.
  • Resolve your single contentment level—sometimes you need to return home for periods of time.

Single women have an important role on the field.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Unique Opportunities for Women in Missions: CROSS Con 2013

Unique Opportunities for Women in Missions, Gloria Furman

“You need a lot more than a passport to stay [overseas as a missionary]; you need an indestructible joy.”

Gloria Furman began with reminding us of some things to learn and character to pursue no matter where we are in missions:
  • We have a chance to never make a sacrifice. There is an element to that there is no sacrifice for Jesus. Like David Livingstone, we can say, “I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which he made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself for us.”
  • Treasure Jesus above all.
  • Rejoice in doing whatever is put before you.
  • Learn Contentment. God provides for our faith. He gives contentment I any situation. There is an opportunity to be content in any place. That contentment is a witness to the world.
  • Pursue Lasting Beauty (Romans 10:15)

Practically speaking, there are many opportunities globally for women in missions. Some opportunities are ones that missionary men cannot have due to cultural norms. There are places in the world where men and women are not allowed to speak to one another, and women must share the gospel with women!

Some missions opportunities that Gloria has seen…
  • Working for a family overseas, essentially like an indentured servant, to share the gospel
  • Midwives
  • Flight attendants on international flights (long flights…opportunities to talk to people about the gospel!)
  • Spend time with a missionary family
  • Biblical counseling is needed overseas too!
  • Take profession overseas (be part of a strong local church and help disciple through it)

Sometimes you aren’t trained, but you see a need and are available to help. Be available!

Pray for wisdom, take opportunities to serve now, go to your church.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Do Missionaries Build the Kingdom? CROSS Con 2013

Do Missionaries Build the Kingdom? Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert

This was a Q&A session in which Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert answered many questions regarding missions and the church. Here are some various notes from the session.

“The point of Jesus’s miracles was to turn people to Himself.” They said this in light of the many people that want the church to focus on the help for temporary suffering (clean water, food, etc.) to the detriment of sharing the gospel, and claiming Jesus as the example.

“We proclaim [the kingdom], we don’t build it or extend its boundaries.” Greg Gilbert, clarifying our job in “building the kingdom” They also explained that the verses in Scripture talking about the kingdom use phrases like “enter in” or “receive”. We never build it. God builds His kingdom.

Matthew 25:31-42—the “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink” passage. Many people use this passage as an argument for Christians to feed the poor. To clarify, Kevin DeYoung said that “None of you need an excuse to love those in need.” But feeding the poor is not the mission of the church given in the Great Commission. This passage “is talking about caring for the brothers.” Kevin DeYoung

Matthew 10:40-42 helps us understand Matthew 25: “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (verse 42) Jesus is speaking of those bearing the gospel of Christ and helping our brothers.

Will you be willing to associate with Christians even if it means persecution? We should give and help our persecuted brothers. Kevin DeYoung describes that this is what Matthew 25 declares.

2 Corinthians 5:20: We’re ambassadors; we’re here to advance the interests of our Father.

We need to be about the work of establishing churches, not just sharing the gospel with individuals.

Trying to feed the poor isn’t the church’s purpose—its primary purpose is the gospel.

“You don’t have the kingdom if you don’t have obedience and worship to the King.”

"If what your Christian group is doing is ultimately indistinguishable from what the United Nations or Oprah would have you do, then we have to look at 'are we doing what the mission of the church is?'" Kevin DeYoung

Listen to the session here.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Building Cross-Cultural Friendships: CROSS Con 2013

Building Cross Cultural Friendships: David Lawrence (breakout session)
"Our God is a global God and our goal is a global call. Sin’s goal has been to destroy God’s plan... What man in his sin was unable to do, God did for HIS glory."

Our goal is to make converted Christ-followers. It’s not enough to engage in “pre-evangelism.”

With that goal in mind, when do you begin building cross-cultural friendships?

David Lawrence encouraged us to begin NOW! Four ways he suggested we could pursue this:

1. If you’re a student, join an international study association.
2. English Language Institute—look for local ESL opportunities.
3. Go overseas as a student. Take advantage of opportunities you have now. Be an exchange student so you can share the gospel in another country. Go for more than one semester so you can develop relationships and disciple.
4. Take a job overseas. Take a job in an urban city or a country that closes its borders to missionaries. Engage now!

Making cross-cultural friendships is not an easy task. So David Lawrence encouraged us:
“Don’t worry about making mistakes cross culturally; you will (and that's okay!)…Don’t let the fear of people keep you from making cross-cultural friendships.”

“The cross is cross-cultural.” Isn’t that powerful? Many aspects of our lives and even church culture will not be directly replicated in another country, but the gospel and the cross itself is cross-cultural.

But as Mr. Lawrence said, “Our task is not complete until people are mature in Christ.” We must be purposeful in our evangelism, but we must not leave them there but disciple and build the church. Don’t be a lone ranger. The gospel unites us; we ought to work together as believers to engage cross-culturally to share the gospel and start churches with all peoples.

Listen to the session here


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

John Piper's Opening Session: CROSS con 2013

In the opening session of the CROSS conference, John Piper spoke on “Missions and the Supremacy of God". He began with explaining 4 reasons why the first-ever CROSS conference was a dream come true for Him. Here are the four reasons he gave:

1. God created the world so His beauty would be known and shared by all His redeemed people
2. Every human is lost and walking into hell unless they treasure Jesus and His gospel
3. God’s been awakening many to the truths of Scripture and CROSS 2013 is the overflow of that
4. I am old and you are young

John Piper shared that we are to declare HIS might to the next generation. He proceeded to give a definition of the purpose of missions, based off the first Catechism question.

“The chief end of missions is the supremacy of God in the joy of all peoples.”
Mr. Piper spent a majority of his session explaining what he meant by that, including the purposeful use of “in” instead of “and” in the above quote. He explained that "It doesn't work to say 'obey' if you don't tell people to enjoy God."

“The world will see the supreme value of God in our supreme value OF HIM.”
 We are to be a light to the world. If we call ourselves Christians, yet our lives show that we hardly even care what God says in His Word, and do not value our relationship with Him as the most treasured and precious thing, how do we think we will bring others to this One?

“Why are you here? Passion for the glory of God or man’s rescue?”
John Piper explained that there should be both passion for God’s glory and compassion for the lost. It’s not an either/or option. It’s both. (Col. 1:16, Rom. 1:5, Rom. 15:8-9, Psalm 98:4)

Pray and ask God, "How do I fit in to reaching the unreached?" God will give you wisdom and direction. All of us are to be part of His plan to reach the nations with the gospel. The question is, what part will you play?

Go watch the opening session (and all the others!) here.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

CROSS conference 2013


I was first inspired to go to the CROSS conference when I heard a podcast with some of the main speakers online regarding missions and missionaries. I was ecstatic when I heard them reference an upcoming students’ conference regarding missions and the gospel. I immediately told my family and asked about going. Before you know it we had a group from church signed up to go. Honestly, I was excited because of the sheer number of solid, reformed speakers and topics that looked very practical. I noticed it mentioned having an emphasis on unreached people groups. My respond to that was more of “okay, that’s nice.” It didn’t particularly move me. I just wanted info on missions philosophy.

God certainly changed my perspective on all that! 

I hope to encourage and challenge you by sharing some of the things God taught me while at the CROSS conference. This conference was the best use of my time and the most important one I’ve ever been to. It was more than a mountain-top experience or an emotional high. God was there. He was present, and the response was beautiful worship (not just in song) to Him. The response was obedience. It was a willingness to say “Yes, Lord, whatever You want.”
It’s hard to summarize what God used most in my life in the conference this weekend. There were several things that were stood out to me, challenging and convicting me:
  • The gospel being clearly defined and explained
  • The importance of reaching the unreached
  • The necessity of local churches helping send and support missionaries
  • Training (formally and informally) now, through serving, studying and preparing for the possibility of being a missionary The importance of building cross-cultural friendships wherever you are The need to be a sacrificial goer or sender

I plan to delve deeper into some of these points by sharing quotes and what I learned from various sessions. Keep watching for posts regarding the conference! :)


Monday, January 6, 2014

Questions for a New Year

A lot is on my heart right now after recently returning from the CROSS conference. I would love to share some of the things God has taught me and convicted me of and moved in me while there, and I will try to do that soon.

But for now I want to go a different direction. Usually at the end of each year/beginning of a new year, I spend time thinking through and praying about what God has taught me in the previous year and where I need to spend time in the new year. I think it’s a great time to re-think priorities, ask questions about where you should invest your time, consider what has happened in the last year, and plan for how you’re going to pursue hard after God. It's productive to look back and see specific ways God has changed you and how He has been at work in your life. With that in mind, answer these questions honestly:

  • What has God been teaching you in 2013? 
  • Do you see God actively at work in you this past year? 
  • What is one area He has been transforming and changing in you? 
  • Do you see much spiritual growth, or did you plateau? 
  • Are you expecting 2014 to be a better year because of greater ambition or because you plan to try harder? Remember that God is the only One who can give you the desire and power to do His will. Lean on Him. 
  • Was there any time you didn’t respond in obedience to Him? How can you say “yes” now? 

Now for the hard part—go and share you answers with a trusted friend or family member. Be open with your sins and struggles. Ask them to help hold you accountable this year. Resolve to seek after the Lord with greater fervency and dependence on Him in 2014.