Casting Your Vote

Very shortly our nation will be electing a new President.  This election differs from some of the previous elections in that I have had more people express confusion as to whom they are going to cast their vote for.  For those of you that have spent time with me over the past couple of years, you probably know that I don’t care for politics or the discourse that accompanies it.  However, many of the people that I care for and respect do.  So heading into the election and the results that follow, I just wanted to offer a few reminders to encourage you and put things in perspective.

All Authorities Have Been Instituted By God (Romans 13:1)—Whoever wins the election, take comfort in the fact that he/she is in that position squarely because God determined for him/her to be so.  God has never lost an election.  Might God be giving America the leaders that they long for and deserve in order to teach them a lesson and draw them to repentance?  Absolutely!  This is a common theme in the Old Testament.  The comfort of this passage though lies in the fact that God is in sovereign control.  Whoever wins the election will exercise his/her governing authority, only because God has appointed them to do so.

Submit To and Pray For Governing Authorities (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Timothy 2:1-3)—We are to submit to and pray for whomever God establishes as authority over us.   We aren’t to complain or whine.  We aren’t to criticize and make snide comments.  We are to humbly submit to any authority placed over us.  That doesn’t mean that we cannot object to issues that go against God’s teaching in Scripture, but we still must exercise submission as we stand for biblical truth.  We are also to pray for those leaders that God has given to rule over us.  And from what little I have seen this election season, both of the candidates for President could use some prayer.

Remember That Jesus Christ is Our Hope—There are numerous passages of Scripture that remind us that Jesus is our hope.  If our hope for a better life is in elected officials, Supreme Court justices, or in any earthly form of government, then our hope has been misplaced.  Our hope shouldn’t be in politicians to make our world better.  The only thing that will bring any lasting sort of peace, enjoyment, and comfort in this world is Jesus.  My hope for a better world is in Christ Jesus, and in his Church going out and being the Church.  Regardless of who wins an election, who we are in Christ and what he has called us to do doesn’t change.

I encourage you to pray and make wise decisions as you exercise your right to vote.  However, I implore you to spend more of your time and energy advancing the Gospel message, rather than on political discourse.  Our family, friends, and neighbors don’t need an elected official to make their lives better.  They need to know our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

 

Mahalo For Your Support

Thank you so much Mililani Baptist Church.  There is so much to be thankful for.  I wanted to share that we have reached our goal of $125,000 for “Operation Church Beautification.”  Praise Jesus!  (Yes, I actually said that out loud when I first heard we had reached our goal.)  This renovation project enabled us to do the repairs and upgrades that were needed in our church.  This was really a united effort from so many who together helped to accomplish this goal.  Thank you to everyone for all of your generous support – for your donations, your prayers, and your volunteer help.  

One of the larger projects during this renovation was the badly needed reflooring of the entire sanctuary.  I remember all the people who came in and sacrificed their time to help with that project.  We had volunteers who didn’t even have any flooring experience come because they had a heart to help and were willing to learn and serve in whatever way that was needed.  We had other volunteers with immense construction knowledge and expertise that helped orchestrate and accomplish what needed to be done.  I saw our church family come together.  I was so encouraged by all of it.  During this renovation project, there have been so many instances where I just felt so moved by the kindness and generosity of our church family in working together to accomplish this goal.  

We reached our goal!   Yes, it deserves being said again:  Praise Jesus!  We must remember to God be the Glory.  “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps. 118:1, ESV)!  God is good; all the time.  

Some of you may be wondering what’s next with the renovation now that our goal has been reached.
The final phase is to renovate the children’s classrooms upstairs, the church office, and upgrade the wiring and spotlights in our sanctuary.  With the Christmas season approaching, we will conduct the remaining construction-related renovations in January.  If you would like to help out with that portion, please contact the church office, and we will provide specific times and dates closer to January.  

For those that have pledged to this project, you may be asking, what’s next, now that we’ve reached our goal.  First off, thank you for your generous support.  We met our goal because of your help.  Secondly, there is still more to do.  During the course of this renovation project, we have identified additional areas that could be upgraded and repaired within the sanctuary and on the exterior walls of our church.  If you feel led, please continue giving your pledged amount, and it will be utilized in these newly identified areas for renovation.       

I am so grateful.  Especially in this season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded that there is so much to be thankful for.  I encourage you to take some time in the midst of what is often a very busy time of year to reflect upon all the many blessings we’ve received.  There really is so much to be thankful for.  Praise Jesus!  Mahalo nui loa, and God bless.

 

A Heartfelt Thanks

This past July we as a church had the opportunity to gather school supplies and distribute them to families in need at Kipapa Elementary School right here in Mililani.  Recently we received a collection of thank you notes from the students and their parents for the supplies.  I wanted to include a few in this month’s messenger so that you can see how your generosity impacted these families in our very own community.

 Thanks from Kipapa Students

 Thank you for giving me free school supplies and I will do my best in learning. #Learn

 Thank you for the school supplies!  I use them well!

 Thank you for the school supplies, and I have a lot of things.  This is the best day of my life.  I love Kipapa elementary school.  Awesome!

 Thank you for all the school supplies for this year!  It will help me learn a lot.  I am very thankful for your kindness.

 Thanks from Kipapa Parents/Guardians

 Thank you for doing such a wonderful thing to help the kids/families.  As a one income family this is truly a blessing and a huge help.  You are very much appreciated.

 Thank you for your generosity, love and care for our children.  As a mother of 4, all is very much appreciated!  Such a blessing to us all and I (we) can’t thank you all enough!

 Thank you for the free school supplies.  Please keep on supporting Kipapa Elementary School.  You help a lot of students.  Again Mahalo!

 Thank you for blessing us with your donation of school supplies.  You are great!  You are caring.  Thank you for reaching out to us.  May God bless you and keep you.  May He shine on you and be gracious to you.  May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

I wanted to thank you as a church body for getting behind and supporting this effort to make an impact on the lives of the families at Kipapa Elementary School.  Thank you for the supplies you donated.  Thank you to those volunteers who participated in the school supply distribution.  Thank you to the individual who donated the plants to the Kipapa staff, and thank you to the 3 volunteers who have committed to tutoring at Kipapa as well.   I ask that you continue to pray for the staff and the children at this school, and for more opportunities for us as a church to show them the love of our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Loving One Another

I often use the phrase, “church family.”  With all of the Biblical references of the church as a body, and as believers being children of God (brothers and sisters in Christ), it seems to be a fitting description for the believers of a church.  And while believers readily accept this designation without question, I wonder if those from outside the church, if they were to observe the interactions amongst church members would describe what they see as a family?

 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, ESV). 

 As part of a recent message on the Good Shepherd from John 10, we saw that Christ knows us, and He laid His life down for us.  It’s a simple enough concept, but profound in its implications.  Christ knows how sinful we are.  He knows how broken we are.  He knows how many times we mess up and fall short.  And even knowing all of this, He still laid His life down for us.  That’s love.  It’s a love so immense that I cannot help but be in awe, overwhelmed with gratitude and a desire to praise Him.  It is with this model of love that we are commanded to love one another. 

 That idea of love combined with the idea of a church family makes sense.  The world is supposed to recognize that there is something different with Christ in us with our love for one another.  But is that what is actually put into practice in our churches today?  And if it isn’t, how do we change that?  It begins by looking at our own hearts and actions, and spending less time focusing on the faults of others.

 Growing up, I confess that I messed up a lot (and unfortunately, still do, but growing), and repeatedly did things that my parents told me not to do.  I’m certainly thankful that my parents didn’t say, well that’s it; it’s time to trade him in because he’s messed up too many times.  They loved me.  My shortcomings were not reasons for them to hold a grudge.  It was met with discipline, encouragement, and love to help me grow.  My differences in who I am and how I did and saw things were not reasons to alienate, but a recognition of the uniqueness of God’s creation that brought a diversity that made us stronger as a family.  The church family is similar.  Our differences, created by God as unique members and each blessed with different gifts, brought together by our passion and love of Christ, help us as a church family to grow and in our mission to reach out to others and be a light in this world.

 However, in churches, it seems the practice is often love someone until you find something wrong with them.  The problem with that is that if we’re actually doing church properly, you will undoubtedly find faults in one another.  We aren’t perfect.  But instead of being something to divide us, it should be something that helps draw us together because of our love for one another.  Family is a place where we are open and trusting enough that we can be honest and vulnerable with one another.  And even when we have shortcomings, we are quicker to love than to dismiss one another.  We cannot forget what Christ did for us.  Even with who we are, all our faults, and all the sin in our lives, He still loves us, and laid His life upon the cross.  Where would we be if Christ forgave in the manner than we actually do with one another?  Lack of forgiveness hurts ourselves.  It creates bitterness and hinders our own growth.

 There are too many things that matter that we don’t take seriously enough, and too many things that really don’t matter that become too much of a focus in our lives.  Loving one another as family means that we will approach and see things differently but we still stick together.  We’re ohana. 

 My hope is that we are quicker to forgive than to hold a grudge, and that church is a place where we really do love one another as family; a family that is open, trusting, and loving.  I want to close by sharing just how grateful I am for my church family.  Especially after my recent surgery, I want to say thank you for all of the prayers, encouragement, meals, and love shown to me.  It warmed my heart, and I am very thankful for my church family.  Mahalo nui loa.

 

The Greatest Adventure

What do you find adventurous? I am fully aware that some people are more adventurous than others. Some of you find things like skydiving or swimming with sharks ad-venturous. Others wouldn’t call that adventurous, they would call that crazy. For those non-thrill seekers like me, we seek adventure in other places. That may include going to Walmart after 8:00pm in our pajamas, or volunteering to serve once a year in the church nursery, or sitting in the first two rows of the worship service.

One of the things that we see in Scripture is that we as believers were made to live an adventure filled life. Living life as a Christ follower isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t boring. The greatest adventure that every believer is called to is to go and share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ with others. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). We are to be going and sharing as we are living out our lives in this world.

Many believers don’t speak of the Gospel to others out of fear. They make excuses as to why the don’t, can’t, or won’t share. And yet sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is the most exciting adventure that we could ever hope for. There are highs and lows; there are gains and setbacks; there are great joys and there are painful rejections. It’s an adventure that shapes and molds us into who we were created to be in Christ Jesus.

While evangelistic outreach programs in the church can be highly successful, they have also served to move Gospel sharing out of the individual realm into the corporate realm. Gospel sharing isn’t as much a programmed church event on the weekly calendar as much as it is a part of our everyday lives. We are all expected to share the Good News with the people that we inter-act with on a regular basis.

Philippines November 2016

We will be sending a short-term mission team from our church to the Philippines on Nov. 1-11, 2016. The team has already met multiple times for training sessions, and it’s exciting to see this team grow together in preparation. I’m also excited for what God will do on this trip both within the hearts of our team and also in the people of the Philippines.


The trip is packed with projects. For most of the trip, the team will be several hours north of Manila in rural farming villages. In those villages, they will split into two separate teams visiting local schools. At the schools, we have arranged for the teams to lead a general assembly for all the students at each school. It will be a time to share songs, proclaim the Gospel, share Jesus, meet one on one with students and teachers, and give school supplies to every student there. Even though the schools are smaller in those villages, we are planning on giving out school supplies and sharing the Gospel to over 2,000 children. As busy as that sounds, that’s just the morning activities. In the afternoons, the team will be going through the village sharing the Gospel directly with those in the community. They will also be involved with a community work project where they will work alongside local church members to help with needs in the local village – also giving them more opportunity to share the Gospel. There is going to be a day dedicated for a medical clinic. We have worked with a team of local doctors and nurses who will volunteer their services by providing free medical care in a village that normally doesn’t have readily accessible local medical care. Our team will be busy sharing the Gospel with every person there. The team will then transition to serving in impoverished areas of inner-city Manila in the last few days of their trip.


I tell you about these projects because I’m asking our church to come together and be in prayer for the team and for the people of the Philippines. Also, while it’s more efficient (and cost effective) to get most of our supplies there that will be distributed to the schools, there are some things that we will be gathering here beforehand to take with us. We are getting together at least 200 care packages for local farmers in the villages. These care packages will consist of basic necessities such as toothpaste, toothbrush, wash cloth, and soap. We will be collecting these items here and ask for your help. There will be a box in the church office if you’d like to help out by giving any of those supplies to be distributed to local farmers in the Philippines.


As the team has been preparing, they have been learning different methods to share the Gospel, writing out their testimony to be ready to share it with others, praying, gathering prayer partners, learning songs for the school assemblies, and learning about the local culture and cross-cultural evangelism. I couldn’t help but think about how useful this preparation would be to all of our church members including myself. As much as we know how important these things are, it sometimes takes a tangible distinct event like a mission trip to help us prepare and grow in these areas. Perhaps there is someone in your life that you could share the Gospel with – maybe it’s a neighbor, a friend, a family member, a colleague, or someone else you regularly interact with. I encourage you to begin praying for them and an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. I also encourage you to begin preparing how you would share the Gospel with them and how you would share what God has done in your life. Be ready for when the opportunity arrives.


If you’d like to learn more about sharing your faith with practical ways to tell someone about Jesus, Pastor Jarod will be leading a 6-week discipleship class on evangelism at 4:30 PM on Sundays, beginning September 18. I hope to see you there!

A Focused Effort

Earlier this year we made the decision as a church body to reduce our cooperative program giving, and to divert that money to more concentrated efforts to reach our own community for Jesus Christ.  Back in March some of that money went into our Easter outreach.  Recently we held our children’s water day where we saw almost 70 children come and splash around on a hot summer day.  

Then in June God allowed us the chance to partner with Kipapa Elementary School, here in Mililani, in an effort to minister to the students and their families.  We as a church collected a large number of school supplies to donate to families in need at Kipapa.  We were even invited to help distribute these items to these families at the school.  In addition, we were able to provide some needed classroom supplies to one of the teachers at the school.  We look forward to partnering with Kipapa Elementary School in other ways in the near future.

 The purpose behind focusing some of our mission efforts right here in Mililani is to let those within our very own community know that we care about them, and that we love them.  God has placed this wonderful fellowship of believers here to reach this community with the love of Christ.  We will continue to serve, go, and support other mission efforts across Oahu, throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and to the ends of the earth.  However, we believe that opportunities abound right here in Mililani to reach out and minister to others, and ultimately to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

How can you help in this effort?  First, be in prayer.  Pray for God to open up more opportunities for our church to serve right here in Mililani.  Second, identify.  Identify any needs that you see in our community.  Needs often lead to ministry opportunities.  Third, discern.  We can’t be involved in everything and meet every need.  It’s important that as a church body we discern where God is leading us to get involved and to prioritize those things that he is calling us to do.  Finally, get involved.  We aren’t just looking for avenues to serve; we are looking for laborers to go out into the harvest in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ. 

This is an exciting time here at Mililani Baptist Church.  We look forward to what God has in store for this body of believers in the days ahead!

Evangelism & Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go. In only 19 days, this game was downloaded 50 million times. Even though it was only released on July 6, the game has exceeded 75 million downloads. Whether or not you’ve downloaded the game, the odds are that you’ve probably heard about it by now. And while you may not know anything about it other than it causing a bunch of people to walk around with their heads glued to their phone screens, and as ridiculous as it may seem to you, my point is that you’ve probably heard about this game. We live in an age that information has the capacity to be spread with extreme speed.

For those who are not familiar with the game, it uses your phone GPS to track your movements over an actual map of where you’re at with the goal of catching Pokémon creatures that temporarily appear in various locations. There is one primary benefit to this game as it does get you out of the house with a goal of actually walking around to find Pokémon. That said, for parents, please remind your children to practice proper safety when playing.

For those parents who may not be familiar with the game, I’ve compiled a list of helpful safety reminders. First, don’t play this game while driving or be in a car with someone who is playing while driving. Already, there have been numerous accidents attributed to distracted driving while playing this game. On that note, also pay attention while walking and crossing streets. With various third party tracking apps, I have witnessed kids jump in a car speedily race through the neighborhood on their quest to a reported location of a rare Pokémon being spotted. Second, pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t go in risky places. Don’t trespass on private property. And don’t play the game in places, times, or events where it would be considered disrespectful. For example, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have had to repeatedly ask the public to be respectful and not play the game while at those sites. Third, it’s just a game. There are already reports of players who have spent days without sleep playing the game. There was an incident of a young man in Oregon being stabbed at 1 am while playing the game. There actually have been numerous reports of robberies, but the Oregon incident was even more peculiar, because he didn’t immediately seek police or medical attention. He wanted to continue playing. Even after police met with him, he initially refused medical treatment so that he could continue his mission as he described of being the best Pokémon player. His stab wound required eight stitches. While the game is set to an augmented reality, it’s important to make a distinction between that and actual reality. And I understand that in reality, this game may be extremely important to someone, but it merits the discussion of establishing proper priorities in life. Finally, this game naturally encourages interaction with other players. Whether it be on how to play, or to point others to a location where a Pokémon is found, people, even strangers, will talk to one another. Just be safe in who you talk to and interact with. There are people out there who have been using this game with malicious intent towards others.

With all of that said, it’s still a fun game when played responsibly. I have seen more people walking around the community and at parks. I have seen parents walking with their kids in search of Pokémon. It also seems there are many more people walking their dogs. Simply put, I’ve noticed a lot more people out and about walking through the neighborhood.

Going back to the idea of how quickly information is spread in this day and age, I couldn’t help but think about ways to share the Gospel message. It is life changing truth: Jesus is the only way to salvation. It seems so easy to talk to someone about Pokémon Go. Why is it so difficult for there to be conversations about things that truly matter? Why is the world so reluctant to hear this message? Difficult or not, we have a responsibility to proclaim the Gospel and show Christ’s love to the world. I’m not sure how long this Pokémon Go game fad will last, but I know that Christ is eternal, and we will always need Him. Make sure our priorities are put in the right places with Christ first.

Lord, Do It Again

More than two centuries ago, five Williams College students gathered in a maple grove to discuss a dangerous pamphlet written by the legendary William Carey. It was a controversial study of unreached peoples grounded in his conviction that the responsibility of world missions belonged to all believers. It was their spiritual responsibility no matter the cost.

Within moments, heavy rain, strong winds and lightning engulfed the grove and prevented the five students from seeking safe shelter beyond a haystack. Even inside the haystack, while the world was seemingly coming down around them, they argued. Samuel Mills passionately insisted that the gospel must be taken to the unreached in Asia.

The five students began praying for their hearts and the hearts of other Christians. Mills exhorted his friends with the words that later became their heartcry: "We can do this, if we will!" Modern scholars point to the Haystack Prayer Meeting as the formative event which launched the American missionary movement. And its results are still being felt — even at Mililani Baptist — today.

Mills himself enrolled at Yale to cast the missionary vision to students there while finishing his theological studies. He met Henry Obookiah, a native Hawaiian student, who encouraged him and others to share the gospel with the lost in the Pacific. A year after Obookiah's premature death, the first American missionaries were sent to the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Mills also helped persuade churches across New England to fund Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice and others. Judson became the first Protestant missionary sent from the Americas to Burma. Rice returned to the United States where he spent the rest of his life raising funds and advocating for cooperative giving in Baptist missions. His efforts laid the groundwork for the Southern Baptist Convention.

As for Samuel Mills, he would die less than twelve years after praying under a haystack. But not before he helped found the first North American foreign mission board, launch the missionaries who continue inspiring us, served in the ghettos of New York City, established two Bible societies, ministered to Native Americans on the frontier and fought against slavery.

Since that hot August day in 1806, countless have gone to the Nations because of the prayerful actions of these faithful few. Their prayers were not bogged down by what-ifs but by an earnest desire for God to use them. Decades later, a man named Luther Wishard visited the same spot at Williams College and prayed. Over fifty thousand student volunteers would be mobilized for world missions as a result.

His prayer was simple and yet dangerous: "Lord, do it again. Where water once flowed, let it flow again...I am willing to go anywhere at any time to do anything for Jesus." Let these words be yours only if you are prepared for when God answers. Be prepared not only to possibly give up everything we hold dear but for the Lord to do something utterly amazing.

Neither Samuel Mills and the Haystack Five nor Luther Wishard foresaw the end-result of their prayers. Neither could they have imagined the incredible impact of their prayers among generations of believers. And to think it all began with ordinary Christians humbly asking God to fulfill a responsibility entrusted to us by Jesus millennia ago. "We can do this, if we will!"

Equipped to Teach

The teaching ministry of a local church is a vital component to the overall health of a church. Teaching is a part of the mission that Christ himself gave to all believers in Matthew 28:18-20. We are to go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching as we are going. We are responsible for sharing the good news of the Gospel with all, and then we are to teach those who exercise faith in Christ biblical truth that enables them to mature in their faith, so that they in turn can go out and make more disciples. Gospel proclamation and biblical teaching go hand-in-hand, and these actions haven't been just tasked to a select few, but rather it is what all believers in Christ should be doing.

In regards to the teaching ministry of the church, it is critical that we are training and equipping people to carry out this mission given to us by Christ. Everyone is to fulfill the role of a teacher in some respect. It is not something reserved for pastors, bible scholars, or Sunday School leaders; we all have the responsibility to teach the truth of God's Word to others. I have repeatedly heard people say to me over the years that they don't feel qualified or led to teach, but the biblical reality is that we are all responsible to teach the truth of Scripture, and if we aren't qualified then it is up to us to make sure that we get the training needed to effectively teach others.

Therefore, this summer here at MBC we want to provide those within the congregation with the tools and resources necessary to help them teach others. We want to equip the members with what they need so that they can fulfill their part in the Great Commission. Some people are naturally gifted in the Holy Spirit to teach others, but all of us can learn the skills needed to properly handle and administer the word of the truth. We also desire to provide an opportunity for our current teachers to continue to hone their skills and improve in the roles that they fill.

From July 10-August 7 we will be offering a 5-week teacher training course here at MBC from 4:30-5:45pm on Sunday afternoons. Each week we will be covering a different component of teaching within the church. You are welcome to come to all sessions, or you can pick and choose the ones that are of more interest and applicable to you.

On July 10 we will begin by looking at Teaching in the Home. We want to assist parents and grandparents within our church with resources and information to help them provide biblical instruction within the home. It is God's intention for the family, not the church, to provide the primary biblical instruction for a child. The church was never intended to teach children spiritually on behalf of the family. The church was designed to help supplement that which was already being taught in the home. However, in our world today the church has had to take up this mantle of responsibility as more and more families leave their children's spiritual development up to the local church. Our desire is to assist those families interested in taking more ownership of their children's spiritual education. It may scare you to death of teaching your 4-year-old, or your 3rd grader, or your teen from God's Word, and that's why we want to assist you in this endeavor.

In subsequent weeks we will be looking at the role of Teacher as Disciplemaker. We will examine what discipleship is and how we as teachers can actively be a part of producing reproducing disciples. We will also look at various Teaching Methods and Learning Preferences and How to Teach Various Age Groups within the church, ranging from infants through senior adults. The last week will look at some ways that we might look at Organizing and Administering the Educational Ministries within the church for those who might like to be a part of the larger and long-range vision casting of the educational ministries here at MBC.

It is my desire that we as a church would be a place that is actively involved in training and equipping fully functional disciples of Jesus Christ who are actively serving and teaching others within their families, as well as within the church. And this course is designed to do just that. Whether you have a desire to teach, but just have never felt ready to do so, or if you have already been teaching and desire to improve upon your teaching skills, or if you just want to be a better teacher in your own home, we look forward to seeing you this summer!

A New Season

The month of May has had many milestones for our church and our church family — deacon ordinations, Senior/college recognition, Senior Adult Sunday, working on implementing the new service times, the end of AWANA, and let's not forget the busy month the preschool had. I want to first congratulate all our Senior and college graduates on their big accomplishment; and know we will continue to pray for you as you start your new journeys. A big congratulations to our new deacons — Barry Henderson, Ben Lairson, Ben Pinner, and John Allen — who are coming on board to serve here at MBC. We are excited to see how God uses these men of God in our church. The staff is also working hard to ensure that the implementation of the new service times goes smoothly. This new chapter in the life of our church is a delightful time and we look forward to what the Lord has in store. AWANA's last day was on May 29th and everyone had a great time celebrating the hard work the children put forth in learning their verses. Thank you to all the teachers for your service to these children.

The month of June is going to be no different. I will start a new sermon series through the summer on the Book of John. VBS is right around the corner where children that do not know Christ will be in our midst. Pray for the volunteers as seeds are planted in the hearts of these young children and pray for their families as well. Continue to pray for our upcoming mission trip to the Philippines in November. The planning process will begin this month with a meeting on June 5th for anyone interested in going. Mililani Baptist Church is very grateful to all those that serve wholeheartedly in our church for the Lord.

Probably the Most Important Healthy Habit

Listening to Mike McQuitty preach from Acts over the weekend was refreshing. One of the insights which hit home was shared during the fourth and final session. The speaker urged us to schedule in evangelism, to make it a healthy habit in our busy lives. If not, it will fall by the wayside.

Initially I thought McQuitty was contradicting himself since he had been sharing about the power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life. Spiritual discipline, according to the speaker, includes depending on the Spirit to open the hearts and minds of people seeking Christ. Why schedule in evangelism then?

Yes, we must depend on the Spirit to lead us towards seekers. Missionaries call these encounters "divine appointments." We cannot use the Spirit, however, as an excuse not to share. Instead we should be creating opportunities for the Spirit to move in our evangelistic obedience.

We are an extremely busy people. Parents are constantly shuttling their children from one thing to another. Pastors and deacons are always in and out of appointments, hospital visits, etc. while also preparing for Sunday. It seems like the only time of the day when we are not overwhelmed is when we sleep.

What is more alarming is all the beeps, dings, vibrations, whistles, chirps and endless notifications pervading our digitally connected lives. Universities are already reporting on the decline of social skills of incoming freshmen. Even some restaurants are offering discounts for turning your smartphones off.

I believe this is the reality which McQuitty was describing on Sunday evening.

If we do not purposefully carve out the time and space in our hectic and noise-filled lives to witness (coupled with the false notion that the Spirit will simply tell us when), we will never tell others about Jesus. And we will miss out on experiencing the Spirit at work in amazing ways.

In an April 25 post by Dr. Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Seminary, he opened up about missing some things about how church used to be done.

"One of the biggest changes has been the loss of evangelistic focus in many SBC churches. The most visible evidence of this is the decline of baptisms over the past decade to record low numbers. Another change has contributed to this number - the neglect of personal witness training and the abandonment of the conviction every Christian must be equipped to fulfill their responsibility to share their faith."

"These days, it’s hard to find churches with any type of continuing, consistent training program for personal evangelism. Admonishing members to 'live their faith' or 'invite a friend to church' are about the extent of the challenge..." Iorg continued.

My challenge for myself, and my challenge for you is that we will follow through with this particular lesson. Schedule in twenty minutes this week to tell someone about Jesus. Encourage others to do the same or to pray intentionally for you. And also ask them to hold you accountable.

Together, as a church, we can spark spiritual renewal but it begins with healthy habits.

Praying for Church Leaders

Coming out of our weekend of spiritual renewal, I am excited about what lies ahead for us here at Mililani Baptist Church. I look forward to moving ahead as one body, focused on that task to which we have been called in Christ Jesus. Often when I get excited in ministry, I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head that I don't know where to begin. However, with age comes experience, and with experience comes some wisdom, and one thing that I have learned is that wherever God is taking us as a church, we must proceed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with much prayer.

I am currently reading a book by Elbert Smith called, "Church Planting by the Book." In it, Smith identifies common threads that were essential components of the earliest churches founded in Scripture. Prayer played a vital role in the foundation of the first church in Jerusalem and led to the spread of the gospel and the establishment of other churches throughout the Roman Empire. Read through the first 10 chapters of Acts and you will see that prayer wasn't something that the earliest Christians talked about doing, rather it was an integral part of their daily lives and helped guide them during the growth and expansion of the 1st century Church.

Last month in this space I encouraged you to pray for unity amongst our members as we moved toward our weekend revival. This month, in addition to continuing to pray for unity, I humbly implore you to pray for the church leaders here at MBC. One of the strangest things about churches in this age of consumerism and egocentrism is that churches are often one of the most exceptionally brutal places to serve within. It's a challenge to please everyone's needs when our culture places a premium on having our individual needs met before anyone else's. I've learned from experience that pastors tend to be some of the most sensitive, thin-skinned people of all. Combine that with the fact that they have their own sin issues, and their own family, marital, and health problems they must contend with…well it becomes easy to understand why pastors leave for other churches so quickly, and while many end up leaving the ministry altogether. Thom Rainer, in his book "I Am A Church Member" talks about the life of a pastor. He writes, "His day is filled with mountaintops and valleys. He is adulated by some and castigated by others."

God called out pastors to shepherd his flock, but it is also the responsibility of the flock to minister to their shepherd. So pray for you pastors. Pray for their preaching as they teach from the Word of God every week. Pray for their families. I've realized that my wife takes comments and criticisms of me twice as hard as I do myself. I once had a lay leader in a church who wanted me gone tell me that while they didn't care for me very much, they really liked my wife. My wife didn't take that as a compliment by the way. I responded by telling this individual that I really liked my wife too and that if and when God ever called me away that I was taking her along with me. Pray for your leaders and their families; pray for their protection. Most of all, pray for their emotional well-being, and for them to find rest in and draw their strength from the Lord.

Now in order to avoid sounding self-serving, I don't want you to just pray these things for your pastoral leadership. Pray for all of the leadership in your church. There are so many faithful people serving in leadership here at MBC that need your prayers. It's not easy to step up and lead, when that opens you up to the criticism of others, and yet so many here have chosen to serve regardless of the cost. Pray for those who teach and lead Sunday School classes and Bible studies. Pray for our Nursery Director and those who lead out in our various children's ministries. Pray for our youth leadership as they give up so much time away from their own families to pour into the lives of others. Pray for our deacons, who serve in a variety of ways that aren’t often even seen. Pray for those who are serving as committee heads, as they deal with important issues in the life of the church. Pray for them and their families.

We are all in this together as one body in Christ Jesus. As we move forward in a rapidly changing world may we continue to show love, grace, and patience to one another. May we lift each other up in fervent and heartfelt prayer. I desire to see this very church be a catalyst in the expansion of the gospel throughout Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific, but before that happens we need to make sure that we are filled with the Spirit and making prayer a priority within this beautiful bride of Christ.

Six Ways to Respond to Revival

We had a wonderful time of worship together during our revival services. It was great to see our church family come together. It was a blessing to be a part of it, and I have heard positive comments from so many of our members. With all that has happened, I can't help but think, what's next. We've had this incredible opportunity of coming together as a church family. This theme of spiritual renewal was no longer just a phrase but had become experienced reality for so many people, but what's next. Where do we go from here?

First, if you were convicted of sin or something that needs to change in your life, then you need to act upon it. Now is not the time to make new excuses or to ignore it any longer. It is time to go before God, repent, and turn to Him. Plain and simple, we all need Jesus. Turn to Him. Sin hinders our relationship with Him and entangles us in our spiritual walk, so we need to get it out of our lives. Christ is our Savior, and He is the only way to salvation. "Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19-20a, ESV). If you made a decision of some type during the services, share it with someone. This helps to keep us accountable, and it is also a testimony for what God is doing in our lives. I also encourage you to write it down as a reminder.

Second, pause, take a timeout, or whatever else you want to call it, but have a quiet time with God. I'm not speaking of our regular quiet time here (yes, that's extremely important too), but rather a deliberate follow-up time for you and God. "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10a, ESV). Life is hectic and there are so many things vying for our time. So do what you have to do to make sure this happens, whether it means scheduling it in your calendar, or finding a place without any distractions. Let this be a time to reflect upon His goodness and who He is and what He has done. He has blessed us in so many ways. In the question of what's next, seek His guidance. If repentance is needed, then repent. Use this time as an opportunity to seek God's guidance on what's next.

Third, make an intentional effort to practice spiritual disciplines on a regular basis. We need to be reading and spending time in the Word of God. We need to be praying. This is one of those areas that we understand is important, but too often is neglected. Decide on a concrete, intentional plan. Perhaps it means starting off with ten minutes daily each morning or night, or maybe using part of your lunch break for a devotional time. You know your schedule. Find something that works for you and stick with it, even if it means starting off small and building it up over time.

Fourth, this needs to move beyond yourself. Not only is there a need to encourage and help other believers to grow, but there is a need to share the Gospel message with others. This can be intimidating at first, but don't let fear stop you from doing it. Share your story of what Christ has done in your life. Learn a basic way of presenting the Gospel (there are many examples – Romans Road, Four Spiritual Laws, Three Circles, FAITH, Bridge Model – find one that you're comfortable with that is based on the truth found in Scripture). Again, be intentional.

Fifth, find a ministry or area for you to serve. God has created you with unique gifts and talents. The easy route is to say that I'm unprepared or not equipped to serve, but it's just another excuse. We have to start somewhere. Use your gifts to serve and glorify God. It is rewarding, and helps us to grow.

Sixth, pray for continued revival. Spiritual renewal and revival needs to extend beyond our church family. Pray for the community around us. Pray for our nation. Pray for our world. Pray for opportunities for how God will use you and our church to make an impact to those around us and point others to Jesus.

Finally, continue to seek Christ and desire to grow in Him. Trust in Him. Wherever He may be leading you, obey and follow Him. This is a journey, an ongoing process that requires perseverance, endurance, and keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. The wonderful part is that we're not in it alone. Christ is with us as well as our fellow believers. Strengthen and encourage one another.

This revival was a wonderful time for our church. Exciting times lay ahead. Pray about it. Seek Him. I look forward to seeing what God will do through our church. To God be the Glory.