“But the Word of God continued to increase [numerically] and spread [geographically].” – Acts 12:24
Just a few months ago my son Austin and I took a trip to New York City to “scout out the land” for our fast approaching move back to The City That Never Sleeps! One of the highlights of our trip was being able to take our dear friend Andrew Smellie, current leader of the New York City Church and future Johannesburg Mission Team Leader, to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium where we watched our beloved Yankees take on their arch rival the Boston Red Sox! When the game was over, and yes – the Yankees won – they played the song that they play at the end of every Yankee game…Frank Sinatra’s version of New York, New York!
The first line of the song is:
Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leaving today
I want to be a part of it: New York, New York!
The song concludes with the line:
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,
It’s up to you, New York, New York!
As I looked around at a stadium filled with fired-up New Yorkers singing along with “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” my eyes filled with tears over this magnificent city where I was baptized 24 years ago! I do so love New York! And I love New Yorkers! And I love God’s Church in New York! And I will serve it with my blood so that everyone gets the same chance that I graciously received; to make Jesus Lord! I thank God for the opportunity to go back to New York City this July  and once again Start Spreadin’ The News!
And I’m not the only one moving this year! Already in 2014, we have seen SoldOut Movement Church Plantings in Chennai, India, Toronto, Canada, Gainseville, Florida; Santa Barbara, California; Sydney, Australia; Dallas and Houston, Texas! And the Lord is not done for 2014, as God willing in December, the Spirit will plant Moscow, Russia!
In addition to all the church plantings, even more disciples will be moving this summer to strengthen existing churches! In total, God will be “moving” around 175 disciples “to increase and spread” His modern day movement! Therefore, I want to commend all the churches that are sacrificing not only funds for Missions Contributions but also the incredible disciples that are needed to strengthen, encourage and administer help so that new plantings and older congregations as well can continue to grow and flourish! It is incredible to be a part of a unified movement of churches!
Truly, God’s movement is “moving” – “increasing and spreading” – in spite of our weaknesses within God’s movement and the persecution that we are facing from without! In fact, that is the context in which Acts 12:24 is written. “The Word of God continued to increase and spread,” despite all the obstacles and persecution that they faced. At the beginning of Acts 12, James, the brother of John, is arrested and killed. He becomes the first apostle to be martyred. Later Herod arrested Peter with the intention of killing him. The church begins to fervently pray for Peter to be released, even though some had lost hope because God had not spared James. Therefore, their prayers for Peter’s return seemed impossible as he was heavily guarded by soldiers and bound by chains, but our God is in the business of making the impossible possible and He answered their prayers by sending an angel to break Peter out of jail!
Interestingly, when Peter finally realized that it was not just a dream, and understood that God had rescued him from jail and certain death, he went to the home of John Mark’s mother to see the disciples that had been so intently praying for his release! But they didn’t let him in at first because they couldn’t believe it was really him… even though it was the very thing they were praying for! Sometimes it is only after God works that we see it and only after we “see” that we “believe!”
Brothers and Sisters: We need to believe and then pray with all our hearts, even for things that seem impossible, for “with God all things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26) It’s time to pray earnestly for the people we love to become disciples: our friends, our family, our children and our parents! And yes, it’s time to pray passionately, even for our enemies and for those that persecute us that all of them will join us in God’s amazing Kingdom! (Matthew 5:44)
I am always so inspired by seemingly impossible prayers that God answers! My wife Theresa prayed earnestly for her mom to be baptized and after 24 years of faithfully and lovingly reaching out to her, Lucy was baptized! This Mother’s Day, we called to tell her how much we love her and her first words to me were that her Bible Talk (in the Orlando Church) was fruitful that day and she was filled with joy… as were Theresa & I!
Recently, God answered so many prayers as the City of Angels Church gave our 2014 World Missions Contribution! Our goal for every member was to give at least 20X their weekly pledge. So with a church-wide goal of $555,992, our Father in Heaven working through the LA disciples shattered that goal and gave us $588,655! That’s the kind of wholehearted devotion that it is going to take to see the world evangelized in our day!
Though the SoldOut Movement is just seven years old, we now have sister congregations in 26 nations! So I beg you to think back over your life and consider all of the prayers that God has so powerfully answered and be inspired to pray even more passionately for the 169 countries that still need a church of sold-out disciples in which to be planted! If you’re brave enough, pray that God will place you on one of those mission teams!
Without prayer and sacrifice there are no miracles! The church we read about in the Book of Acts grew from a few disciples in Acts 1 to thousands of disciples by the end of Paul’s missionary journeys when we read Acts 21! (Acts 21:20) The Holy Spirit led every step of the way – and the disciples constantly met together to pray. (Acts 2:42) Since…
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever,” His heart and urgency to save a lost world is still the same today! (Hebrews 13:8) God still wants “all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and “He sets the exact times and places where we should [all] live” not only for the sake of our salvation but also for the salvation of others! (Acts 17:26-27)
I so appreciate Kip’s continued call to “go anywhere, do anything and give up everything” to see this world evangelized in this generation! This is how the Word of God in the 21st century will continue “to increase and spread” as it did in the first century! Indeed, the news is spreading to Polokwane, South Africa, as we have a new remnant group there led by Bradley Hoorzuk! The news is spreading to Bogotá, Columbia, where Hector & Adriana Gomez, who led Bogotá in our former fellowship to grow from 800 to over 1,800 disciples, recently started a remnant group! God is also gathering leaders like Andrew & Patrique Smellie from New York City and Blaise & Patricia Feumba from London to join Luke & Brandyn Speckman here in Los Angeles so they can build the leadership team that will take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire continent of Africa! I hope you are encouraged by how much God is moving around the globe in our churches!
I know many of the younger generation may not know Frank Sinatra’s song New York, New York, much less that his nickname was “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” so I thought I would reference another song about New York that has inspired so many in recent years. It is Empire State Of Mind by Alicia Keys! I saw an interview with her where she talked about hearing her song on the radio for the first time while she was driving on the BQE (Brooklyn – Queens Expressway) and she couldn’t believe it! She was so excited! Perhaps Alicia Keys’ words will touch you too:
In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There’s nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
The lights will inspire you,
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York!
As fellow workers in God’s fields we have the honor of planting and watering – but “it is only God who makes things grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:7) We are only servants charged with the glorious task of proclamation! Let us rejoice and give thanks for being part of a movement that God is using to reach all peoples of all languages in all cities and all nations in our generation! Truly, in the Kingdom “There’s nothing you can’t do… His light will inspire you… Let’s hear it for God!”