This Beautiful, Messy Life

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The Russells are friends who serve selflessly among the Ati tribe in the Philippines. This story is a relatively common daily experience for them. I thank the Lord for their faithful and selfless service.

RUSSELLS REACHING THE PHILIPPINES

Here I am sitting in another medical waiting area. Today my companion is an Ati woman who’s aged father is on the other side of the waiting area, on a stretcher awaiting his echo-cardiogram. It’s Thursday. This test was ordered upon his transfer to the regional hospital on Sunday afternoon, having a bad case of pneumonia with cardiac complications.

The irony seems lost in the wait. After church we were told about his situation and asked to help with the transfer. Reluctant to start what we knew to be a lengthy process and uninterested in the stomach upsetting speed ride in the ambulance, we gave the family

some money and promised to visit later in the day. But the family had never had a patient transferred before and were uneasy doing so alone, so quickly we adjusted our Sunday afternoon expectations and assisted them in his transfer.

The medical ward…

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Jesus Loves Everyone!

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Ritzmans in Cleveland

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I’m excited about how Jesus is growing my brother-in-Christ, Dean (pictured above with Ruthie), who lives in an apartment complex on the West Side of Cleveland! I’ve known Dean for a couple of years, and we became friends as  I visited his apartment building to share Jesus with people. As I continued to share how Jesus loves him again and again, he finally came out and told me, “Mark, your God doesn’t love me because I’m gay.” I told him that wasn’t true and that Jesus died for him and loves him more than we can imagine. After literally months of my trying to convince him and Jesus wooing him, Dean gave in to the love of Jesus by asking forgiveness of his sins and asking Jesus into his heart. He’s been growing in his walk with Jesus ever since! Here’s a Facebook post he put up yesterday (shared with permission)…

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Our Gospel Aim: Decisions or Disciples?

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Good insights from a young Asian blogger I have never met, but who I enjoy reading. Good insights on discipleship and T4T.

The Asian Rough Rider

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Last week some friends and I were gathered around a frail woman who was possessed by evil spirits. The woman and her family had come from a rural village several hours away. They were desperate for help and wanted to turn from spirit worship. They decided to put their faith in Jesus.

The moment we laid hands on the demonized woman she let out a deep long growl. Her eyes rolled backed and she began to shake. There was nothing special about what we were doing. We simply copied Jesus and commanded the spirit to leave in His name. Thirty minutes later the woman threw up some nasty red gunk and came to. She blinked, recognized our faces and praised God. We spent the next hour telling her the Gospel story and teaching her how to pray.

Sounds like a success story right? The family said a prayer and made…

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Training Trainers: A New Paradigm for Discipleship

Church Planting, Discipleship, Equipping, Other Authors, Scripture, Uncategorized

I could not have said it any better. A must read for anyone interested in advancing the Church as Jesus directed us.

The Asian Rough Rider

No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong, especially leaders, pastors and church planters. We’ve devoted our lives to growing the Church but have we been doing it all wrong? I hate it when I’m wrong. My pride always says that I am right. But my pride can’t argue with results.

The results say that more churches have been started in the last 50 years than in all 2,000 years of church history combined. The results say that in the last decade, God used a humble Asian-American missionary couple to launch a discipleship movement of more than 140,000 new churches and more than 2 million baptisms in one Chinese city. There are dozens more examples from all around the developing world.

For us outsiders in the West who are looking in we’re saying, “That ain’t right! How can this be? Let’s analyze this until we are blue…

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Eternal Life

Church Planting, Discipleship, Scripture, Uncategorized

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Eternal life is a free gift, based on God’s grace.

  • “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
  • This might surprise you, but Heaven cannot be earned or deserved.
  • “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • Grace is what God wants to give you, but which you do not deserve.
  • It is amazing, but true; God wants you to go to heaven. Eternal life is a free gift!

People in themselves do not deserve the gift of heaven. Why?

  • We are sinners by nature and by choice.
  • “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
  • We are incapable of doing good according to God’s standards.
  • “…There is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12).
  • “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
  • People cannot save themselves.
  • “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5).

There is a penalty for sin.

  • God is love – He doesn’t want to judge you.
  • “The Lord…is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
  • But, God is also just – He must judge sin.
  • “Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7).
  • “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), i.e. physical death and also spiritual death (separation from God).
  • Our basic needs are: forgiveness, eternal life and peace with God.
  • So, people try religion, good deeds, materialism, self-acclaim, etc, to satisfy their needs, but these do not solve the problem of sin.
  • But remember, God is love. He has the solution!

Jesus Christ is your only way to Heaven.

  • Who He is – the infinite God-man.
  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1,14).
  • What He did – He paid the penalty for our sins, and purchased a place in heaven for us!
  • “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
  • “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Personal faith in Jesus Christ is the answer.

  • Faith is not – merely believing a fact.
  • “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder” (James 2:19).
  • Many people agree that Jesus Christ lived and died, and they even believe in His resurrection! But, they have not turned from sin and trusted Him.
  • Faith is – turning from your sin and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for your eternal salvation.
  • “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
  • “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
  • The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Can you think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to invite Jesus Christ into your life right now? Might I suggest a simple prayer?

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the gift of eternal life. I know I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for my sins and rose again from the dead to give me eternal life. I now put my complete trust in You alone for eternal life. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus name, Amen!

 

This post reflects my heart passion and was inspired by a booklet entitled, “Life’s Most Important Question” published by BMH, P.O. Box 544, Winona Lake, IN 46590, http://www.bmhbooks.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ministry Update and Prayer Requests

Church Planting, cities, Philadelphia, Rambling Thoughts, Uncategorized, Urban Ministry

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Yesterday I drove to York, PA, about a 2 hour drive west of Philadelphia. Through the years Pastor Dan White and the church family have supported the ministry of church planting in Philadelphia through their prayers and finances. It was a nice time of reacquainting with the church. When I was with North American Missions I consulted with the church, helping them to plant a new church in their area. It was enjoyable to reconnect with several of the men and women who served on the church-planting steering committee; it was wonderful to hear of their continued interest and concern for our church-planting efforts, now in Philly. Will you join me in prayer for the York Grace Brethren Church?

I drove home in time to attend church at Wissinoming at 6:00 PM. I was hoping to find Kareem out on the street and to invite him into the service. I had met Kareem, a young African-American man, last Sunday night after church sitting on the steps of the Laundromat next to the church. We had a nice conversation. I invited him to come to church next week. I knew it was a long shot, especially because it was raining and cold. I didn’t find him, but I will continue looking for him again. Will you pray for Kareem?

Last Friday evening I had a chance to speak with and pray for a nurse assistant. He is separated from his girlfriend and three-year old daughter. He was very open to talk to me, especially after he found out that I am a pastor. He had several questions about his relationship with his girlfriend and his concern for his daughter. I prayed with him and told him that I’d be back to the hospital this week, seeing a patient, and will look for him so that we can talk further. He lives in North Philly. Will you pray for him? His name is Thomas.

This coming Sunday, March 9, we will be presenting a ministry update at Lehigh Valley Grace Brethren Church in Bethlehem, PA, about an hour north of Philadelphia. Pastor Larry Humberd and the church family have been another prayer and financial supporter of MetroGrace for many years. The church added Anecia and me to their 2014 missionary budget for which we are so thankful! Will you pray for us as we present the ministry in Bethlehem this coming Sunday, March 9? Will you also pray for Lehigh Valley Grace Brethren Church? Thank you!

Both Pastor Dan and Pastor Larry have been dear friends of mine for many years. It is so nice to reconnect and visit with longtime friends, isn’t it? It is equally nice to meet new people, especially those who need the Lord. I have enjoyed meeting several of our neighbors and people that God brings across my path through His sovereign design. I have distributed several dozen Gospel tracts through casual contact, and have been able to impress upon folks that God loves them. I didn’t find Kareem, but I did meet a lady on the same Laundromat steps last night after church, sitting there in the rain. Her name is Marie. She said that she believes in Jesus Christ as her personal Savior, but that she does not attend church right now. She is about my age and seemed lonely. Will you pray for Marie? I welcomed her to attend our church on Sunday morning or evening. I’d like to introduce her to Anecia.

Two weeks ago I met with two staff leaders with CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach), a university outreach ministry. They are quite interested in further dialogue about a partnership with us on the many campuses in this great city! On another note, on March 27 I will be meeting with students at Lancaster Bible College. Will you please pray about a potential relationship with CCO, and for my visit at Lancaster Bible College?

Well, as you can see, there is a lot to do – so many people who need the Lord and many opportunities that God is bringing across our paths. Thank you for your prayer support. As you are able, thank you also for your financial support. We are here only because of God and His provision through your financial support for our ministry and this city. Thank you so much!

Blessings,

Kurt and Anecia Miller

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Discipleship

Church Planting, Discipleship, Equipping, Rambling Thoughts, Uncategorized, Urban Ministry

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It is the greatest need in the world today. It is the most fundamental command that Jesus ever gave us. Yet the Church as a whole is not doing it. The Church and the world are suffering greatly today for our disobedience to His command to make disciples. Jesus said in Matt. 28:19, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” This verse has been widely misunderstood only to mean evangelizing individuals.

Discipling peoples involves far more than just evangelizing or “getting people saved.” This is an essential first step but it involves so much more. It is not just about planting churches, as critical as this is to the overall process. It involves developing specific strategies and approaches for each community (or even neighborhood in the case of multi-ethnic neighborhoods) that will take into consideration their specific cultural and historical backgrounds and the environment in which they live so that believers within that community are discipled in a culturally relevant way. A one size fits all approach to discipleship will not work.

I believe the Church in the United States is failing to adequately disciple its people both young and old. The unbelief we see in the younger generation is also present in the Church as a whole. It is only becoming more pronounced in each succeeding generation. We must seek to obey the command of Christ to make disciples if we are to succeed in reversing this ominous trend. We must disciple our people so that they not only can defend their faith, but also become cultural change agents as they follow Christ and seek to make disciples of the people around them.

Again, the purpose of discipleship is not just to get people saved and going to heaven. It is to glorify God in all that we do and to show to the world what God is like. Our job as followers of Christ is to be agents of change within our respective cultures. Every people group and every culture on Earth has been impacted by the forces of evil and needs to be transformed by the power of Christ. This societal transformation takes place as people come to faith in Christ and begin to obey His commands to love their neighbors as themselves; by meeting the real needs of people who are suffering and by standing for biblical values as representatives of the King of righteousness; and, by equipping other believers to do the same. Unless we are developing our church, especially our young people, of sound doctrine and solid spiritual disciplines, who are able to defend a biblical worldview and its values and beliefs, we will have nothing to offer the world as pastors and missionaries. Effective discipleship is the essential element in the future of world evangelization.

Needed: A Massive Movement of Everyday People

Church Planting, cities, Equipping, least reached, Philadelphia, Uncategorized, Urban Ministry

stock-footage-new-york-circa-june-crowd-of-people-commuters-walking-crossing-street-at-a-busy We believe one the best ways we can advance God’s purposes among the nations is to think beyond ourselves and serve the church-planting movement in Philadelphia through partnerships. The task is too big for any one person or organization to complete. Partnerships are key to seeing breakthroughs in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia and other urban centers.

MetroGrace 1) Gathers, 2) Trains and 3) Sends. Our goal through these efforts is to send urban church-planting teams to start new churches. Yet, we recognize that the role of sending is continually changing, and must continue to change in order to honor and serve what God is doing through churches and other sending movements in our city.

As MetroGrace looks to the future, we recognize that the Great Commission will only be accomplished through a massive movement of everyday people from all walks of life and all nations—all with an extraordinary passion for God’s glory to be known among all peoples. Since we cannot do it alone, we need partners to join us in this endeavor:

  • College graduates who want to work and live in urban places that are walkable, bike-able, connected by transit, and hyper-caffeinated.
  • Second-career people who sense God’s call on their lives to serve Him in new and significant ways in an urban context;
  • Retired people who want to use their gifts and talents to train, equip and mobilize a younger generation; and, who want to evangelize people who need the Lord.
  • Churches who have a desire to mobilize their people to help the Gospel to be proclaimed in Philadelphia.
  • Returning missionaries who could relocate in Philadelphia to reach the tribe, tongue, people and nation God has called them to reach.
  • Extraordinary financial partnerships for extraordinary opportunities.
  • And more…

Making disciples of Jesus is the most important job in the world. It not only transforms the lives of people here in this world but also for all eternity in the next. Few jobs are as difficult as this one—we have a powerful adversary who is working against our every effort. If this is true, should we not employ everyone we can to the most densely populated places on earth (major cities) to spread the gospel, to gather new believers into new churches, to prepare every believer in Jesus to accomplish the mission of making disciples who are able to disciple others? Does not a mission of such critical importance demand our very best combined efforts? Literally, the eternal destiny of millions of people hangs in the balance.

Jesus’ strategy for revealing Himself to the whole world was through successive generations of disciplers. Rather than being consumed with meeting every need He could in His own generation, He foresaw that the greatest fruit for all generations would come from a movement of everyday people from all walks of life and all nations—all with an extraordinary passion to work together for God’s glory to be known among all peoples.

We are always looking for new partnerships. Would you consider partnering with us? You may be asking how. Well, ask the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, that question. Read His Word. Pray. Expect an answer. You might also want to contact me for some ideas. I can be reached via email at kurt@metrograce.org.

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Iraqi Refugees in Northeast Philadelphia

Church Planting, cities, least reached, Notable Blogs, Philadelphia, Uncategorized, Urban Ministry
Iraqi refugees find support from fellows and neighbors in Northeast Philadelphia (via NewsWorks)

Hundreds of Iraqis are building new lives in Northeast Philadelphia. They’re simultaneously trying for a fresh start while holding on to their homeland, and even finding some unusual allies. One of those families lives on a quiet street in Northeast…