Jamaica – Day 2

We’ve had another great day in Jamaica. Since we don’t have to be at the Bible college until 2pm, we have some time in the mornings to do other things. So, Cletis and Tammy took us down to “the strip.” This is the first time we’ve been to a touristy area since we arrived.

We went to a shop and were introduced to Auntie Dolley who is a sweet old lady who owns the shop. Since we know Cletis and Tammy we were instant friends.

IMG_9132

We were also introduce to Lana who was a sweetheart too. You can tell by her beautiful Jamaican smile that I caught at the entrance of Auntie Dolley’s shop.

IMG_9133

After lunch, Cletis and I headed out to Fairview Bible college to teach a week long module class on Pastoral theology. I took a bunch of video of our ride out and of the college that I’ll show later this week. I’ll also put some pictures on the blog of the college campus later this week.

In our class are five young Jamaican men receiving their education to become pastors here in Jamaica; O’Brian (that’s his first name), Carlington, Dane, Andre and Charles. (I’ll see if they’ll let me get a group shot with them one day this week.)

It was a great time in class as they were attentive and asked a lot of questions. I love that!

Here’s what the classroom looked like:

IMG_0149

Can’t wait to get back tomorrow afternoon!

Tomorrow morning will begin with our first trip to see a beach here in Jamaica. Laura and I are both excited about this! Don’t worry, we’ll lather up with some SPF 50 before we go out. Otherwise we’ll end up looking like we landed on the surface of the sun!

I want to finish today’s update with just some pictures of what life really looks like here in Jamaica. The commercials on American tv just show the resorts, but that’s not what Jamaica really is. This is a place of high unemployment and difficult living for many people. I’m so glad that Cletis and Tammy along with other’s, both American and Jamaican, are giving their lives to give the hope of Christ to the people of Jamaica. These people are more than just faces…..

IMG_9103

IMG_9152

IMG_9153

The Unlimited Gospel

image

Difficulty in ministry and even difficulty in declaring the Gospel does not indicate what God is doing with your labor or with His Gospel.

When Paul goes to Thessalonica (Acts 17), initially, both Jews and Gentiles respond favorably to the Gospel. Paul reasons in the synagogue and proves that the Messiah must have suffered and died, a concept lost to the Jewish people in their religion. Many people, Luke records, come to the faith in Jesus.

But, like usual for Paul and those who labored with him, jealousy with the religious group who worried that they would lose their power and influence began. Paul will be swiftly run out of town and left to wonder if the Thessalonican people will continue in the Gospel and whether the church will grow. Paul does not get to return to find out. These folks are so vicious they even follow Paul to Berea and try to disrupt the delivery of the Gospel there. Unable to go to Thessalonica himself, Paul sends Timothy to see what has become of the Christians and the church there.

This is where we get to see the incredible power of the Gospel of Christ. Against all odds, not only does the Gospel continue in the hearts and lives of those who heard and responded to it, but the church in Thessalonica becomes arguably the greatest church founded by Paul. As Paul writes to the church he tells them, even a little bit to his surprise, what he’s heard about them:

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-9)

Wow! Can you imagine being Paul and hearing Timothy’s account of what he found when he went to visit the Thessalonian church?!

This leads me to two conclusions:

First, the Gospel is not limited, in any way, by external circumstances. The Gospel is that powerful!

Secondly, whether you’re in vocational ministry or a volunteer, if you find yourself leading and ministering in times and places of difficulty, remember this: your labor for the Gospel is producing more than you would ever dream. Sometimes you don’t get to see it but the Gospel is still producing. It’s that powerful!

God’s at work, always at work, even when you can’t see it. Whether your a leader or volunteer in your church remember this, God’s ability is wrapped up in His Gospel not in our ability. Just declare and live the Gospel, give your life away and watch God do things that will glorify Him that will surpass anything you ever dreamed!

But as for you….

2 Tim

I’ve been invited to go to Jamaica next February and guest lecture at a Bible College. The subject; pastoral theology. As I sat across the lunch table from my friend and missionary and we discussed the class, he told me to plan to spend a session discussing things that came up, or that I learned as a pastor, that were never taught in college.

Man, do I ever have some stories….

But, it immediately brought to mind a passage of Scripture that I spend a lot of time returning to. It’s like a security blanket for me as a pastor, though it’s not really an overly happy text. It’s Paul writing to his protégée Timothy. The epistle is 2nd Timothy.

The tone of the letter is not necessarily happy but it is solid, you might even say foundational.

Paul is warning Timothy of the day we’re living in. As a matter of fact, it’s the day everyone one of us who give our lives for the Gospel live in. Every one of us since the beginning of the church. Paul tells Timothy that people won’t listen to sound doctrine and that people will seek teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. He also states that people will be lovers of self, self involved, unkind….all kinds of things. You can read the list yourself.

If you do what I do, then you know how difficult it can be at times. Even exasperating.

This is why I find such comfort in Paul’s “as for you” statements.

Here’s what he says to Timothy:

Paul tells Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” That doesn’t sound like good news. All of us who have given our lives to serve others “in Christ” find that. The difficulty is when you find out who it is that’s actually doing the persecuting. (That’s the biggest surprise of ministry in my estimation.)

It seems to be intimated by Paul that this persecution will cause some to quit. I guess all of us can have that come to mind from time to time. But, here’s where Paul’s first statement reminds of our uncrackable foundation. Paul tells Timothy to continue in what he has learned and believed. (2 Tim. 3:14) That is, that God has spoken and His Word, our Scriptures, are secure and profitable.

Paul warns Timothy of those who will not want to listen to “sound teaching” but Timothy is to “preach the Word.” I have resolved that my preaching and teaching ministry will be just this. Just preach the Bible. It’s all that we all need.

The second “but as for you” is one that I have underlined and highlighted in my Bible. This is the don’t quit encouragement to Timothy.

“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill you ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5)

This should be the anthem of Gospel ministry! There’s no quit in this.

I look forward to teaching pastoral theology this winter in Jamaica. Maybe because it’s giving me a reason to remember exactly why it is that I do what I do. In the end, it’s because of Jesus. The ministry is something that causes us to reach people but it’s because of Jesus. He, the living Word, is our foundation. When we remember that, then whatever difficulties come, and many will come, our uncrackable, unbreakable, unshakable foundation will always be secure.

But as for you….