Monday, March 17, 2014

Evangelicals Now interview with Mez

Evangelicals Now recently posted an interview with Mez McConnell, ministry director for 20schemes and pastor of Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland. We wanted to share this interview with you because it's a concise overview of the mission and ministry of 20schemes. You can help us by reading it and then sharing it with your friends via email and social media.

And if you need more information about how you and/or your church can be involved in this ministry, please contact us. We love to talk about it and help people learn how they might partner with 20schemes!

Monday, March 3, 2014

What happened to February?
February. It's the shortest month of the year. But this year, our February seemed both shorter and longer than it really is.

The month slipped by without us posting a single thing to the blog. We're sorry about that. We managed to send our monthly e-newsletter out today, and we thought we'd share part of it here in the way of explanation and prayer request. We're still here. February was just a little... different. 

As we came into February, we were tempted to be a bit discouraged as we faced an empty calendar. Coming off the holidays, it has proven difficult to secure speaking opportunities with churches. Jeff was considering attending one conference, but had nothing booked as far as sharing with churches.

As always, the Lord had worked this for our good. 

In our last couple of newsletters, we’ve asked for prayer for Suzanne with regards to her kidney disorder. (She has medullary sponge kidney, which basically makes her kidneys stone-making machines) We’ll let her tell the story from here.

Around Thanksgiving, I had an unusual and very painful week-long episode which culminated in passing between 30-40 stones over a four-day period. Since that time, the stones have continued to pass with varying degrees of pain. But at the end of January, things began to change. I struggled with an infection for most of the month that required two rounds of antibiotics to clear it. Stones continued to pass, but some seemed to get stuck in very uncomfortable places. A couple of different doctors prescribed a couple of different medicines to try to help with the constant discomfort, but they didn’t really offer any consistent relief. Last fall, we met a sweet Christian friend who is a licensed massage therapist. She had helped me after the Thanksgiving episode, so we decided it was time to see her again. After about an hour of intensive massage, I passed a wad of stones but, on the way home, I started having some intense flank pain. I took my pain meds and went to bed; the next day, February 27, I passed a wicked-looking stone* that actually appeared to be several stones fused together. After a month of much pain, frustration, and lots of prayer, relief had come. 

And we understood a little better about why our calendar had been clear. Jeff was home and free to minister to me, encourage me, to drive me to doctor’s appointments, help keep the kids focused and the household running. And in between doing all of that, he was still able to study, disciple a couple of men, and network with two new pastors in hopes of building partnerships with 20schemes.

And the work of 20schemes goes on. Right now, a mission team from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is in Scotland as part of a partnership with 20schemes. The following week, five potential church-planting couples will be in Scotland on a Vision Trip as part of the exploratory and interview process for candidates. And here in the states, 20schemes will be present at the Ligonier’s Conference, Shepherd’s Conference, and Together for the Gospel (Mez will speak in a breakout session). 

God's work continues... in us, through us, and in spite of our weaknesses... all to His glory.

By the way, let us know if you'd like more information on being part of an upcoming Vision Trip, or if your church might like to partner and participate in a mission trip.

*And if you're one of the curious types who just has to see the wicked-evil kidney stone, click on the beach graphic at the top of this post. It's ugly. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Believe a lie, live a lie

Jeff was privileged to preach at Central Fellowship Baptist Church here in Macon this past Sunday. Over the past few months, we've enjoyed getting to know this church family a bit. Pastor Rodney Queen allowed Jeff to come and share about 20schemes back in June and, since then, we've visited the church from time to time. I thought I'd share a bit from Jeff's evening message (you can listen to the entire message here).

When you read Genesis 3:1-13, do you wonder how Adam and Eve moved so quickly from living in sinless relationship with God in the perfection of the Garden to being deceived into sin and separation by the serpent? How did that happen?

As it turns out, Adam and Eve were deceived in precisely the same way we are deceived today: Satan replaced God's truth with something that they wanted to hear... and he persuaded them that God wasn't being forthright with them. For that brief moment, Satan created doubt in their minds, and that doubt led to sinful action. It turns out that the military tactic to divide and conquer has been around since the beginning of time. After all, isn't that exactly what Lucifer/Satan attempted with the angels just before he and his followers -- one third of the angels -- were thrown out of heaven? He tried it with Jesus, too, but that attempt failed miserably. (See Matthew 4:1-11. Instead of taking the bait, Jesus rebuked Satan with the truth of Scripture -- the antidote to the falsehood of deception.)

Eve seems to have believed that Satan wanted the best for her (which makes you wonder what she thought -- at that moment -- that God wanted for her). That is so often the way that the crafty master of deception presents his offer -- he just wants the best for us, for us to be happy and to get what we really deserve. Of course, he's obscuring his real goal, because we probably wouldn't go for that: Satan desires to thwart your worship of God. My momentary happiness -- or ultimate failure in sin -- is not his primary goal. He desires to steal from God by drawing me away from devotion to Christ.

And that's the great battle. Deception vs devotion. Division vs. denial of self. Discouragement vs discernment. It's the battle that we fight each day, each hour, each moment, by saying no to some things and yes to other things as we choose right over wrong and best over good in a desire to worship and glorify God in all we do. 

Whether we live in the schemes of Scotland or the Highlands, or the good old US of A, this is the message we need to hear. Those without hope need the gospel, and believers need instruction and encouragement. Will you join us in this work?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17 ESV)