Category: Articles

Good News Email – May 30, 2017

Good News Email – May 30, 2017

Dear All,
Greetings from New York City, Moscow, Manila, Honolulu and Los Angeles! Highlights of my month-long Missionary Journey included witnessing the moving “good confession” of Ali – our sixth disciple at Columbia University, an Ivy League College in New York City! In Moscow, almost 250 disciples gathered for the Second Eurasian Missions Conference from Russia, Ukraine, England, Sweden, France, America and even one from Brazil – Vaitsa! In Manila, I was able to meet with each of the principals of the three schools attended by the children of “squatters,” where on Saturday of the 2017 Global Leadership Conference we will hold MERCY Events! In Honolulu, I was able to meet with the Church Leaders to discuss forceful advancement in our now three churches, as well as the future plans for Guam! Then upon returning home to LA, Elena & I participated in the glorious 10th Anniversary Celebration Weekend! This commenced on Friday evening with a Dinner Cruise where all of the leaders of the Tribe World Sector gathered to honor the “Original 42” that planted the City of Angels Church in May 2007! Then, two days later was the historic 10th Anniversary Sunday Worship Service, where the Toronto Supplemental Mission Team was sent out by the Holy Spirit! And to God be all the glory!

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Good News Email – March 26, 2017

Good News Email – March 26, 2017

Greetings from Orlando, Lagos and Los Angeles! It has been a very exciting and historic month since our last Good News Email on March 26th! Not only have Elena & I been encouraged by visiting the incredible Orlando and Lagos Churches, but history was made as John Causey – arguably the most influential ICOC Evangelist – and his lovely wife Emma joined God’s new Movement on April 9, 2017 by placing membership in the West Region of the City of Angels ICC! Since Elena & I will be traveling tomorrow, this will be an abbreviated – but prayerfully faith-building – Good News Email! And to God be all the glory!

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God Is With You Always – Guest EditorialMarcel Turner – Orlando ICC

God Is With You Always – Guest EditorialMarcel Turner – Orlando ICC

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

 

If you’re reading this, I hope this article encourages you to love God more than ever before. I’m only aiming for you to be strengthened in your faith. As I was writing I realized that God was watching me…even a temptation to drift off came across my mind and I just said to myself “no, God sees what I’m doing,” and suddenly I worked a little harder! I pray this sticks with you for as long as you need it to. Let me start with something that happened to me about 20 years ago.

 

I grew up in Oregon along the I-5 in Roseburg, Eugene, and Portland. Every place gave me some amazing memories, especially Roseburg. One night I was with a couple friends and we were running through grass that grew above our heads. As we were running trying to lose each other I heard a sudden movement right in front of me. Startled as can be, I looked and there was a deer and its baby, close enough to touch and they ran by me. It was a moment I will never forget because I was so scared and amazed at the same time. There isn’t a moment I can remember quite like that…it makes me think of God. God scares me and amazes me at the same time. He knows me completely. He knows all of us completely. I mean that’s pretty much one of the most mind blowing FACTS you’ll ever you know.

On this day (December 6th) Marcel & Tia become one in marriage!

On this day (December 6th) Marcel & Tia become one in marriage!

Is there anyone in your life who COMPLETELY knows you? They would have to know every secret, every thought and every emotion. This would be impossible for a person. The only one who knows all about you is God. The Lord knows every hair on your head Luke 12:7, which shows us how caring and loving He is. If the Lord knows every hair on your head he knows every deed you do. This shows us His mercy and grace, because we all fall short in so many ways. Imagine if your parents were present every step of your day. Would they be pleased? Would they be upset? Disgruntled? Or would they be ashamed? We can so easily forget that God is always with us in every moment. When God watches your life, what is he seeing?

 

The Bible states that Jesus will be WITH YOU ALWAYS Matthew 28:20 and in so many other scriptures, to encourage us to stay faithful to God, especially when we are alone. A relationship with the Lord completely relies on us living like God is with us at ALL TIMES, not just when we’re near other people or at church. Have you been living like God is with you always? Take a look at Matthew 15:1-13. Jesus sees straight into the true heart and all he wants for us is to live with Him always. Hebrews 4:13 says, “…everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” We are talking about a realization that God is not closing his eyes to what we do: bad or good. There are three ways you can live that show you have this conviction: prayer, sharing your faith, and purity.

 

God Hears Every Prayer

 

1John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Confidence doesn’t come from what we do but from the FACT that God hears us. Sometimes I can go to a place in my heart that says, “Because I did this or that God will not hear me,” but it just isn’t true. God hears every prayer because He is God. Period. How comforting it is to know that our prayers reach the ears of the creator of all things. There is an element that we must understand about sin and prayer- if we are continuously rejecting God by sinning, we aren’t living according to His will. So we won’t be praying according to His will…unless we choose to change our heart and repent. I’m talking to the person who desires deeply to have a TRUE relationship with God. Whether you’ve been in sin or not I encourage you to take an hour today and just pray to God. HE WILL HEAR YOU. Remember Isaiah 59? Is his arm too short to reach or his ear too dull to hear? Of course not! Your voice is heard and it does matter to God how you feel or what you think. Pray because you love to spend time with the One who loves to listen at ALL TIMES. Check out: John 15:7Mark 11:24Psalm 21:2, and Psalm 34:17.

 

Spreading the Gospel

 

Psalm 96:3 “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all peoples.” Let me get vulnerable for a second. There have been many days where I get discouraged when someone just doesn’t want to become a disciple…but why do I get discouraged? Is it a good thing? I have asked myself this question because my motives were questionable. If someone doesn’t want to be a follower of Christ, it can sometimes take me out…but why? It is because in some way I wanted glory from them choosing to worship God. I can still go there sometimes. My overall goal in this article is to show how BIG OF A GAP LIFE WOULD HAVE IF GOD WERE NOT FILLING IT. God fills my voids. There are some huge holes in my heart and only He can fill them. I tried everything under the sun to fill those voids and nothing did the job. Only God is always with me.

 

Two best friends get  married on this monumental day in the Kingdom of God!

Two best friends get married on this monumental day in the Kingdom of God!

 

Which brings me to my point: imagine if someone never reached out to me. I’d be lost forever. Empty. But since someone took the courage to say something to me, I’m here today. And so are you. God sends us out to THE WHOLE WORLD to declare His praises 1Peter 2:9-10. Have you been doing what God sent you out to do or have you also gotten “discouraged”? Maybe your motives are questionable as well. We will always be taken care of by God even when we mess up…it’s something worth sharing not for personal gain but for God’s glory. Share the gospel with others because you know God can fill every void. Share the truth because you know God can save anyone. Do it because you love Jesus and without anyone having to remind you about it. Jesus chose you out of billions of people to go and do the same for others. Today I encourage you to refresh your heart and go make disciples with pure motives and intentions.

 

Purity is not Impossible!

 

Matthew 17:2 “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as the light.” I’ve been the guy that says I’ll never be pure. And heard many people say the same thing. But we have an example we can follow here. Jesus sets us an example of what happens when someone is close to God. Literally, I believe that Jesus was so close to God that even his clothes became white- so white, so pure that they were like the sun. That’s amazing! Purity isn’t an accomplishment we can obtain alone. Purity is given to the people who strive to get close to God. The closer you are to God the more pure you become. Have you been battling with being pure? I have a question that might help: do you do WHATEVER IT TAKES to be pure?

 

A great relationship with God is your answer. Simple I know, but look at Jesus. He spent his days and nights in prayer and fasting. Before he was taken to the cross we find Jesus PRAYING FOR THREE HOURS to get his heart right. Tonight I was tempted…yes tempted like all of us…and I had a choice to fall into it, try to fight it off on my own or walk away and pray for however long it took to get my heart and mind focused on God. Praise God I chose door number 3! I walked away and prayed to get myself back focused on God. Whenever you get tempted to be impure (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) I challenge you to get up and go pray for however long it takes to set your heart and mind on things above Colossians 3:1-2. Purity is a HUGE indicator that you are concerned that God is watching you. I encourage you to live a life that shows you know that GOD IS WITH YOU ALWAYS.

 

I want to close out with a bit of a testimony. At 17 I remember crying out to God. My Mom was in the hospital for a sickness she has been battling since before I was born. I went and saw her and it ripped my heart out to see her in the condition she was in. Nothing the doctors tried helped her. The only thing that could help was time. In my mind there wasn’t any time. Time wasn’t something I could just throw away, so I cried out to God. Sitting outside the building, I started to pray. It was the first time I actually poured myself out. I said something along the lines of, “God please help my Mom, please heal her and save her from this. I can’t do this alone and need you to work.” After a whole lot of tears and I don’t know how long, I got up and walked away. Very shortly after, she was released from the hospital and moved in with me.

 

Truly God answered because he was watching… and still is. I remember that moment because it was the first time I realized God answers prayers. God heard my quiet little squeak of a voice and decided to work because he truly is watching at all times. I pray we can all get back to a true understanding that God is with us. He hears us and wants us to know that he cares for us EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. Even if it doesn’t seem like it or maybe you are struggling, I pray this serves as an encouraging reminder of Matthew 28:20 when Jesus promised that he is “with you always.”

Unity in Marriage – Guest EditorialTed Green – Orlando ICC

Unity in Marriage – Guest EditorialTed Green – Orlando ICC

Kathy and I are fast approaching our 35th wedding anniversary. Recently I pulled out our wedding albums to reminisce on one of the happiest days of my life. The photographs showed two young people filled with excitement and anticipation surrounded by hundreds of well-wishers and supporters. Many years have come and gone since that eventful day. I would like to share with you some basic principles that have guided us throughout the years keeping our marriage a blessing.

 

From the time we went out on our first date to reaching the altar took about five years. I remember getting advice every three months or so from Sam Laing, one of the ministers at Crossroads Church of Christ. I’d go in hoping this would be the time I’d get the ok to ask Kathy to go steady but instead would leave with a list of things in my character to work on. To this day I am grateful for his advice that allowed me to “unpack” unhealthy behavior and to grow in my character as a man. I finally got the “green” light (pun intended) to ask her to be my wife and was thrilled when she said, “yes!” Genesis 29:20 “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”

 

Ted&Kathy

The OICC shepherding couple: Ted & Kathy Green!

 

In my role as shepherd, I teach both young and old men how a gentleman is to treat a lady, i.e. with dignity and respect and honor. I often ask the single guys, “are you becoming the person the person you are looking for is looking for?” Then they sit perplexed for a while and ask, “What does that mean?” I explain that so many guys are in search for “the right one” instead of preparing themselves spiritually so that when God brings “the right one,” into their life, they will be ready and they will be right for that person.

                                                                                                                  

To this day I emphasize with brothers and sisters the importance of falling in love with Jesus, spending time with him. When reading the Bible I try to put myself there listening and watching Jesus. It helps me to watch movies featuring Jesus and his disciples to try to understand better what they experienced with him that I may, “know him.” John 15:9-14 “As the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

 

Close to my heart have been the wedding vows made so many years ago: I, Ted, take you, Kathy, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, forsaking all others, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.” The vow I made to Kathy, in the presence of God and many witness, is not to be taken lightly as so many these days are inclined to. As I turned 65 last month and now possess my red, white, and blue Medicare care, the vow “in sickness and in health,” becomes significant as the aches and pains increase with each additional year.

 

Many can relate to the “for richer, for poorer,” as our fortunes shift from year to year. We have known plenty and we have known little, but always we have trusted God to provide. Then “forsaking all others,” in this day and age of pornography, perversion, and indulgent gratification of desires, has taken on a significant relevance in marriages. I remember in a marriage devotional saying to the group, “None of you here wakes up in the morning wondering, ‘how can I make my husband miserable today?’” To my disbelief one of the women said, “I do!” When wedding vows are broken there can be little joy in the relationship. In our life together “divorce” has always been a four letter word that is never uttered nor an option. There has never been, nor will there ever be a “back door” to exit the relationship through. Matthew 19:6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what god has joined together, let no one separate.”

 

Books have played a great part personally in our marriage: Five Love LanguagesFive Languages of ApologyBoundaries20 Surprisingly Simple Rules and Tools for a Great MarriageFinancial Peace, and many others along the way. In Gary Chapman’s book, Five Love Languages, he lists the languages as: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, and quality time together. It wasn’t until 10 years into our marriage that I read the book, but I wish I had read it prior to getting married as it has been helpful in strengthening and maturing our relationship. 

 

I remember the first time I held Kathy’s hand as well as the first time I kissed her. I was walking on cloud nine! My feelings were indescribable! But a relationship based on feelings alone is doomed. The book instructs how to build a foundation over the years based on meeting the other person’s love languages so that when the feeling subside and the infatuation has passed, there will be a mature foundation based on love and not feelings. I would add building the foundation with Jesus as the capstone. Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

 

Authors Chapman and Thomas list in the book of the same name the Five Languages of Apology: “I’m sorry,” “I was wrong,”   “what can I do to make it right?” “I will try never to do that again,” and “will you please forgive me?” As the book expresses, for some people a mere acknowledgement that they have been hurt by you and you are sorry for that is more than sufficient to achieve forgiveness. For other injured parties it takes not only that but also a confession by the offender that they were wrong. For some to be able to forgive requires all five! Of course there are some life situations where no apology is forthcoming and forgiveness still must be extended for as scripture says: Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.

 

In 20 Surprisingly Simple Rules and Tools for a Great Marriage by Steve Stephens, each of the 20 short chapters gives specific advice on how to have a great marriage. An example is “celebrate your differences.” How many times has a couple been attracted to each other because one is very gregarious preferring to be out and about socializing while the other is more reserved and shy, preferring to be at home. Each is attracted initially to the other because of the difference. The outgoing party thinks, “She settles me down and is an oasis and a place to be still.” The other thinks, “He draws me out of myself and it’s thrilling to be out with him.” Over the years (sometimes mere months) one starts hearing the complaints: “you never stay home with me,” or “you never want to go out anymore-what’s wrong with you?” What once was celebrated has now become an irritant. Kathy and I have learned to celebrate our differences and enjoy them. Our marriage is stronger because of this. Proverbs 5:18 “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”

 

Kathy with her grandson Eli!

Kathy with her grandson Eli!

 

One of my favorite sayings is: “95% of the time Kathy is right. The other 5% doesn’t matter!” Ha! Ha! Although the Lord made me the leader, my wife is one of the wisest persons I know and I’d be a fool not to listen to her. I’ve seen so many couples who in an effort to be “right” destroy their marriage. Perhaps a more familiar saying is, “happy wife, happy life.” Many, correctly so, emphasize the importance of communication between spouses as a key to a successful marriage. I agree and that’s why in a conversation I listen 85% of the time to people before speaking. As Stephen Covey in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People states, “seek to understand before being understood.” It is amazing how much information and insight can be gleaned by asking simple questions and then sitting back and listening to the person’s heart. If Jesus, who knew what was in a man’s heart took the time to ask probing questions and then discipled the heart, then we should follow in his steps and ask. Proverbs 20:5 “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.”

 

It is believed the number one reason for divorce is over finances! In Dave Ramsey’s iconic book, Financial Peace and his later book, Total Money Makeover, basic, easy to follow steps for getting out of financial debt are taught. Kathy and I have followed these for years and it has enabled us to be generous in giving and helping out others. Romans 13:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…”

 

From year to year and from situation to situation the Bible has guided us. As promised, life is full of trauma, drama, and moments of joy. We’ve made it a practice to celebrate the moments of joy because we know just around the corner is more drama! Throughout it all our anchor has been God and his word. Matthew 7:25-27 “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

 

Marriage is between one man and one woman and was instituted by God starting with Adam and Eve Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land…” I urge you with all my heart to heed the advice given and you will have Unity in Marriage!

Bear Much Fruit – Guest EditorialJoel Parlour – Seattle ICC

Bear Much Fruit – Guest EditorialJoel Parlour – Seattle ICC

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will BEAR MUCH FRUIT; apart from me you can do nothing… This is to my Father’s glory, that you BEAR MUCH FRUIT, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5, 8 

On behalf of my lovely wife Courtney, my dear son Brinton, and the Seattle Mission Team, I would like to thank the entire City of Angels International Christian Church (CAICC) for hosting us for the past month! We have had a wonderful time going to staff meetings and getting with numerous disciples and friends around the church. The CAICC is a beehive of activity right now as the Speckmans are preparing to go to New York City in June, the Blackwells are getting ready to go to Chicago that same month, the Bakers are arranging everything for Dubai to be sent off at the Global Leadership Conference in late July, the Carrs were launched by the Spirit to lead the Eugene Church last Tuesday, and my father in the faith, Andrew Smellie and his family are in the final days of gathering the mission team to plant the Lagos (Nigeria) International Christian Church in May! Truly, God has really used the City of Angels Church to prepare the Seattle Mission Team and we are ready to conquer this great metropolis of over four million lost souls! Also, Courtney and I are very excited to soon be partners with the Limons in Portland and the Carrs in Eugene to build a strong family of churches that will win the Pacific Northwest for Christ!

One of the most inspiring aspects of the CAICC is the goal for every one of the 138 Bible Talks to be fruitful before the Global Leadership Conference! This incredible goal was set by Tim Kernan, the visionary leader of the City of Angels Church! Yet, hasn’t this been Jesus’ dream all along? Hasn’t Jesus been asking every disciple to be involved in “fruitful labor” for the last 2,000 years? I believe the light will shine the furthest that shines the brightest! As the light of the world, we must fan the flames of the Spirit in us! Today, the Seattle Mission Team is being sent out so that this light will shine all the way to Seattle! Lord willing, in the next four months the light will reach Lagos and Dubai – our Tenth and Eleventh (of 12) Crown of Thorns Cities! Prayerfully soon the light of the gospel will shine on the “ends of the earth!” (Acts 1:8) Wherever we go, Matthew 9:37 will always read the same, “The harvest is plentiful…” Though I am not nearly as fruitful as Paul, one of the most fruitful disciples ever, I have a deep conviction that I must personally lead the way in fruitfulness for my entire ministry to be fruitful. I believe every Bible Talk can and should be fruitful! Do you believe that you can be fruitful?

The other day I was driving south on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, and I found myself at a complete stop. At some segments, the 405 stretches into seven lanes wide (in each direction), and that day every lane (on my side) was full of idle cars, all waiting to inch forward! Traffic jams in Los Angeles are very common, as there are 15 million cars and 20 million people who live in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Every traffic jam starts with just one, or a few drivers, taking their foot off the gas pedal. Then, those behind them start slowing down, and before you know it everyone’s feet are on the brakes, and the traffic jam begins. Some people start to slow down because they are scared of getting into a wreck; others slow down because they are cautious; while still others slow down to see how bad an accident was! Regardless, many traffic jams start when someone decides to slow down, and the people behind them do the same. I believe fruitful labor (or the lack thereof) and driving on the freeway are very similar! All it takes is one disciple “slowing down” their evangelism – especially if it is the Bible Talk Leader – before the entire Bible Talk soon becomes idle.

Jesus understood that world evangelism would not be possible if everyone worked half-heartedly, so He preached that the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Jesus believed that every disciple can be fruitful. He accentuated this conviction in John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Jesus even warned the disciples of the consequences of unfruitfulness, “Therefore I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21:43)

Paul fully embraced this vision of personal fruitfulness, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” (Philippians 1:20) This is remarkable! For many years Paul was a violent persecutor of the church, where he passionately tried to stop the movement. So if Paul can change, anyone can change! Many years ago a popular Christian author wrote, “A barren Christian is a contradiction.” I wholeheartedly agree with him. Let’s focus on four radical convictions that come from Paul’s heart in order to imitate his fruitfulness!

The first thing that motivated Paul in his fruitful labor was Christ’s love for him. Paul writes to those in Corinth, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) Paul says that he was compelled by Christ’s love. He saw no other option! Very convictingly, the NIB translates this passage as, “Christ’s love leaves me no choice!”

Paul was a zealous Jew, a Pharisee who loved God very much. In his zeal for God, he strove to rid the earth of Christianity because he deeply believed it to be a false religion. Think about this: Perhaps Paul – zealous for the Law – was in that crowd that was gazing hatefully at Jesus screaming “He saved others; let Him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One!” (Luke 23:35) Possibly, Jesus on the cross looked back into Paul’s eyes and said, “Father forgive [him] for [he does] not know what [he is] doing.” Whether Paul was at Calvary or not, Paul never lost sight of Christ’s love expressed through this immense sacrifice! In Paul’s mind, he had no choice but to spread the gospel. As well, Paul understood that fateful day in Damascus as he stepped into the waters of baptism and made the decision to die to himself: DEAD MEN DON’T HAVE CHOICES!

The second thing that motivated Paul was his love for the lost. When Paul realized Christ’s love for him and his love for Christ, he fell in love with everything Christ loved. I can relate because when I fell in love with my wife, Courtney, I fell in love with everything she loves – even coffee! (This is quite fortuitous because Starbucks started in Seattle!) So Paul saw the love Christ had for a lost world expressed on the cross, and that became his love and passion. When Jesus came into the world, there became only one way to Heaven – the cross. When we entered into God’s Kingdom, there is still only one way to Heaven; and that too is by the cross. Paul pens, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people…” (Romans 9:2-3) Paul had joy and contentment, but simultaneously, he carried a saddening burden for the lost people of the world. For lost souls, Paul was willing to take up his cross to reach the lost.

It truly hurt Paul to see the lostness of the world, “Now I tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18) This heart is so similar to the prophet Jeremiah’s heart, who fought hard to save a nation that had been lost in their rebellion for many decades. Jeremiah, also known as the “Weeping Prophet”, writes in Lamentations 1:12 amongst the ruins of a destroyed Jerusalem, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” These were the sentiments of Paul as he was moved to tears because of the condition of the spiritual nation of Israel, which was also destroyed by sin and rebellion!

The third motivation Paul had to win souls was his drive to finish the work. Paul states in Acts 20:24, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) There is an odd feeling that comes when we see things incomplete, but an overwhelmingly good feeling when we see something finished. It is like the difference between a pile of dirty dishes and an empty sink! It is a godly feeling to be finished! What did Jesus utter immediately before His death on the cross? He cried, “It is finished.” I think Jesus proclaimed this statement with a sense of accomplishment! Once Jesus had finished His race, He asked God to take His spirit, and I believe Paul wanted the same sense of accomplishment before his life ended. Paul understood that Christ gives to each his task, and he wanted to accomplish his task for Jesus. (Mark 13:34) The sooner Paul finished his mission, the sooner he could be with his God!

The last thing that I believe kept Paul motivated in fruitful labor was his sense of indebtedness. In Romans 1:14-15, Paul says, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel…” Because of Paul’s sense of obligation to the lost, he felt duty-bound to convict the world of sin! We are not to preach “‘Peace, peace…when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14) Paul was not going to preach half-truths, or make people feel good without “speaking the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) Paul says, “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” (Acts 20:27) Many Christians believe their only debt is to God, but that is not what Paul’s conviction was. He believed that he owed it to the lost to preach to them the gospel. He also said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) Paul’s sensitivity to his debt of love, drove him to share his faith with all those in his vicinity and beyond, because he owed to them the same chance at salvation that he had been given.

I have been so proud to be a part of the City of Angels Church and the SoldOut Movement of God, where we are motivated by Christ’s love for us, our love for the lost, a righteous sense of indebtedness to the lost, and an unyielding fervor to see the evangelization of every nation in this generation! I plead with you to make these convictions your own! How are we going to do it? 1) I would like to challenge you to have one out of every three of your discipleship times to be a Bible study with a non-Christian. 2) We need to encourage everyone to have the “habit” of daily evangelism to be the light Jesus calls us to be! (Acts 5:42) 3) Finally we need to get our Bible Talks fully behind the upcoming May 15th Special 20X Missions Contribution! It is going to take everything we have to see the world evangelized! Then prayerfully as our dear brother LuJack Martinez sings, “Around the throne we’re gonna sing and say, the world was evangelized in our day!”

Bear Much Fruit – Guest Editorial: Joel Parlour – Seattle ICC

Bear Much Fruit – Guest Editorial: Joel Parlour – Seattle ICC

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will BEAR MUCH FRUIT; apart from me you can do nothing… This is to my Father’s glory, that you BEAR MUCH FRUIT, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5, 8 

On behalf of my lovely wife Courtney, my dear son Brinton, and the Seattle Mission Team, I would like to thank the entire City of Angels International Christian Church (CAICC) for hosting us for the past month! We have had a wonderful time going to staff meetings and getting with numerous disciples and friends around the church. The CAICC is a beehive of activity right now as the Speckmans are preparing to go to New York City in June, the Blackwells are getting ready to go to Chicago that same month, the Bakers are arranging everything for Dubai to be sent off at the Global Leadership Conference in late July, the Carrs were launched by the Spirit to lead the Eugene Church last Tuesday, and my father in the faith, Andrew Smellie and his family are in the final days of gathering the mission team to plant the Lagos (Nigeria) International Christian Church in May! Truly, God has really used the City of Angels Church to prepare the Seattle Mission Team and we are ready to conquer this great metropolis of over four million lost souls! Also, Courtney and I are very excited to soon be partners with the Limons in Portland and the Carrs in Eugene to build a strong family of churches that will win the Pacific Northwest for Christ!

One of the most inspiring aspects of the CAICC is the goal for every one of the 138 Bible Talks to be fruitful before the Global Leadership Conference! This incredible goal was set by Tim Kernan, the visionary leader of the City of Angels Church! Yet, hasn’t this been Jesus’ dream all along? Hasn’t Jesus been asking every disciple to be involved in “fruitful labor” for the last 2,000 years? I believe the light will shine the furthest that shines the brightest! As the light of the world, we must fan the flames of the Spirit in us! Today, the Seattle Mission Team is being sent out so that this light will shine all the way to Seattle! Lord willing, in the next four months the light will reach Lagos and Dubai – our Tenth and Eleventh (of 12) Crown of Thorns Cities! Prayerfully soon the light of the gospel will shine on the “ends of the earth!” (Acts 1:8) Wherever we go, Matthew 9:37 will always read the same, “The harvest is plentiful…” Though I am not nearly as fruitful as Paul, one of the most fruitful disciples ever, I have a deep conviction that I must personally lead the way in fruitfulness for my entire ministry to be fruitful. I believe every Bible Talk can and should be fruitful! Do you believe that you can be fruitful?

The other day I was driving south on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, and I found myself at a complete stop. At some segments, the 405 stretches into seven lanes wide (in each direction), and that day every lane (on my side) was full of idle cars, all waiting to inch forward! Traffic jams in Los Angeles are very common, as there are 15 million cars and 20 million people who live in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Every traffic jam starts with just one, or a few drivers, taking their foot off the gas pedal. Then, those behind them start slowing down, and before you know it everyone’s feet are on the brakes, and the traffic jam begins. Some people start to slow down because they are scared of getting into a wreck; others slow down because they are cautious; while still others slow down to see how bad an accident was! Regardless, many traffic jams start when someone decides to slow down, and the people behind them do the same. I believe fruitful labor (or the lack thereof) and driving on the freeway are very similar! All it takes is one disciple “slowing down” their evangelism – especially if it is the Bible Talk Leader – before the entire Bible Talk soon becomes idle.

Jesus understood that world evangelism would not be possible if everyone worked half-heartedly, so He preached that the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Jesus believed that every disciple can be fruitful. He accentuated this conviction in John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Jesus even warned the disciples of the consequences of unfruitfulness, “Therefore I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21:43)

Paul fully embraced this vision of personal fruitfulness, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” (Philippians 1:20) This is remarkable! For many years Paul was a violent persecutor of the church, where he passionately tried to stop the movement. So if Paul can change, anyone can change! Many years ago a popular Christian author wrote, “A barren Christian is a contradiction.” I wholeheartedly agree with him. Let’s focus on four radical convictions that come from Paul’s heart in order to imitate his fruitfulness!

The first thing that motivated Paul in his fruitful labor was Christ’s love for him. Paul writes to those in Corinth, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) Paul says that he was compelled by Christ’s love. He saw no other option! Very convictingly, the NIB translates this passage as, “Christ’s love leaves me no choice!”

Paul was a zealous Jew, a Pharisee who loved God very much. In his zeal for God, he strove to rid the earth of Christianity because he deeply believed it to be a false religion. Think about this: Perhaps Paul – zealous for the Law – was in that crowd that was gazing hatefully at Jesus screaming “He saved others; let Him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One!” (Luke 23:35) Possibly, Jesus on the cross looked back into Paul’s eyes and said, “Father forgive [him] for [he does] not know what [he is] doing.” Whether Paul was at Calvary or not, Paul never lost sight of Christ’s love expressed through this immense sacrifice! In Paul’s mind, he had no choice but to spread the gospel. As well, Paul understood that fateful day in Damascus as he stepped into the waters of baptism and made the decision to die to himself: DEAD MEN DON’T HAVE CHOICES!

The second thing that motivated Paul was his love for the lost. When Paul realized Christ’s love for him and his love for Christ, he fell in love with everything Christ loved. I can relate because when I fell in love with my wife, Courtney, I fell in love with everything she loves – even coffee! (This is quite fortuitous because Starbucks started in Seattle!) So Paul saw the love Christ had for a lost world expressed on the cross, and that became his love and passion. When Jesus came into the world, there became only one way to Heaven – the cross. When we entered into God’s Kingdom, there is still only one way to Heaven; and that too is by the cross. Paul pens, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people…” (Romans 9:2-3) Paul had joy and contentment, but simultaneously, he carried a saddening burden for the lost people of the world. For lost souls, Paul was willing to take up his cross to reach the lost.

It truly hurt Paul to see the lostness of the world, “Now I tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18) This heart is so similar to the prophet Jeremiah’s heart, who fought hard to save a nation that had been lost in their rebellion for many decades. Jeremiah, also known as the “Weeping Prophet”, writes in Lamentations 1:12 amongst the ruins of a destroyed Jerusalem, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” These were the sentiments of Paul as he was moved to tears because of the condition of the spiritual nation of Israel, which was also destroyed by sin and rebellion!

The third motivation Paul had to win souls was his drive to finish the work. Paul states in Acts 20:24, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) There is an odd feeling that comes when we see things incomplete, but an overwhelmingly good feeling when we see something finished. It is like the difference between a pile of dirty dishes and an empty sink! It is a godly feeling to be finished! What did Jesus utter immediately before His death on the cross? He cried, “It is finished.” I think Jesus proclaimed this statement with a sense of accomplishment! Once Jesus had finished His race, He asked God to take His spirit, and I believe Paul wanted the same sense of accomplishment before his life ended. Paul understood that Christ gives to each his task, and he wanted to accomplish his task for Jesus. (Mark 13:34) The sooner Paul finished his mission, the sooner he could be with his God!

The last thing that I believe kept Paul motivated in fruitful labor was his sense of indebtedness. In Romans 1:14-15, Paul says, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel…” Because of Paul’s sense of obligation to the lost, he felt duty-bound to convict the world of sin! We are not to preach “‘Peace, peace…when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14) Paul was not going to preach half-truths, or make people feel good without “speaking the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) Paul says, “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” (Acts 20:27) Many Christians believe their only debt is to God, but that is not what Paul’s conviction was. He believed that he owed it to the lost to preach to them the gospel. He also said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) Paul’s sensitivity to his debt of love, drove him to share his faith with all those in his vicinity and beyond, because he owed to them the same chance at salvation that he had been given.

I have been so proud to be a part of the City of Angels Church and the SoldOut Movement of God, where we are motivated by Christ’s love for us, our love for the lost, a righteous sense of indebtedness to the lost, and an unyielding fervor to see the evangelization of every nation in this generation! I plead with you to make these convictions your own! How are we going to do it? 1) I would like to challenge you to have one out of every three of your discipleship times to be a Bible study with a non-Christian. 2) We need to encourage everyone to have the “habit” of daily evangelism to be the light Jesus calls us to be! (Acts 5:42) 3) Finally we need to get our Bible Talks fully behind the upcoming May 15th Special 20X Missions Contribution! It is going to take everything we have to see the world evangelized! Then prayerfully as our dear brother LuJack Martinez sings, “Around the throne we’re gonna sing and say, the world was evangelized in our day!”

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