Dear ITEM Partner,
After a promising and encouraging three days in South Africa, interacting with leadership of The Master’s Academy International (out of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA), it has been a mostly relaxed transition to Madagascar where I arrived Sunday, midafternoon. With a lot of free time both Sunday and today Monday, I’ve been reflecting on Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Tim 4:7.
Paul is writing 2 Timothy from prison a short time before his martyrdom. And as he gets to the end of his last inspired letter, he writes these words to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (NASU)
I will end this seminar this week with a survey of 2 Timothy and end with this final challenge: “At the end of your ministry, will you be able to say this same thing?”
THE STORY BEGINS
This story begins in Acts 20:24, where Paul told the faithful in Ephesus that me must go to Jerusalem and preach to finish his course. They tried to stop him. But he said he had to go even if it meant dying there. As the story continues, he went, he preached, and they tried to kill him but a centurion rescued him.
NEXT STOP, ROME
He ended up standing before the Council, Governor Felix, and eventually King Agrippa. In the middle of all of this, in Acts 23:11, the Lord appeared to Paul and told him that now that he (Paul) had preached for Him (Jesus) in Jerusalem, he must preach in Rome also. So, in Acts 25:11, when defending himself, he “appealed to Caesar.” That was Paul’s way to get to Rome, where he had to go to finish his course.
GOD WOULD NOT LET A STORM DISRUPT HIS PLAN
On his way to Rome (Acts 27) the ship he was on was overwhelmed by a huge storm and everyone was fearing for their lives but in Acts 27:23 we read that an angel of God told Paul that he (Paul) must stand before Caesar and no life would be lost.
PAUL FINISHED HIS COURSE!
Paul went to Rome, appeared before Caesar. He had finished his course. He was put in prison, released, Nero put him back into prison and martyred him. Before he was killed he could now write to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
As I reflected on this verse, I got to thinking, “I am in the homestretch of my African ministry. At age 70, my desire is to keep on keeping on to at least the end of 2022. So, what am I asking God to accomplish through me so that I can say what Paul said?
As I reflected, what seemed to be a clear message came through. “Get model churches set up throughout the countries where ITEM is ministering that will become training centers for a new generation of Bible expositors.”
A model church is a church where the pastor is a godly example to his church, an equipper (discipler) of the members in his church, and a systematic teacher (expositor) of God’s Word. The members of this model church are equipped and ministering, maturing, and resisting the false teaching that swirls around them.
This goal does not change anything we have been doing. It just changes the desired outcome. Instead of counting how many pastors we can run through our seminars, we are counting how many churches we can help become healthy models and training centers.
Will you pray with me for that to be accomplished?
I met with the team here in Madagascar today. This is the second re-start and the third start all together here. I am very optimistic about this group. We talked today about the very goal I just wrote about; in the next 3-4 years helping strategically located pastors and churches become “models” and training centers.
I also reviewed all of the lectures (we will share in the lectures) and what I try to emphasize in each one. I call it “the message behind the message.”
PRAISE AND PRAYER
Praise for a safe trip so far; for ongoing health and strength; for the privilege of knowing and serving Him; for the opportunity to make a difference.
Pray for all of the team as we share the lectures, that the Spirit will take the truth spoken and open minds and hearts, reveal error, and convict where necessary.
Pray that some in the room will be handpicked by God, who will eventually become the examples that church at large needs.
Pray also for Faly, a team member, and his family. His mom died just recently. His father is struggling with dealing with the legal details following her passing, and Faly is being put in charge of the legal affairs and will be in and out of the seminar.
May all of us one day be able to say with Paul, “”I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”
By His grace,
I have added a good number of pictures since arriving in Madagascar. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ADDITIONS