Living in Tomorrow, Today! Update from Narcis Popovici (2)

Narcis, his wife and kids, and another family left EVERYTHING behind to answer the call of the Lord to extend His Kingdom into a hostile country. They live there now and they need our support and prayers.  With previous permission, here is the latest update from them.  Names and places have been erased to protect them.

Life and Family
D… and I were just having a coffee for her birthday a few days ago and talking through God’s faithfulness to us through the years and how important it is to find in Christ the source of all our LIFE and LOVE.  We were able to celebrate her 32nd birthday with the team, it was fun!  D… is homeschooling the kids and being the wonderful woman of God and inspiration that she is.  Learning to find Him in the everyday moments of life is often what separates the men from the boys (or girls from women :-)).  She’s also been doing great at picking up Arabic, along with the kids.  The kids are being their usual selves, anyone who’s ever raised 3 boys should know what I mean.  It has been one of my joys being able to make this move and progress together as a family.  In the past, most of the […] we’ve undertaken has been me traveling without the family, but there’s nothing I love more than being with them in the journey.  On another note, we hope to take a family trip to Romania this summer, in order to get the paperwork started for the family’s Romanian citizenship and introduce the kids to a part of their heritage they’ve never had the opportunity to experience yet.

God’s Revelation is God’s Invitation
We believe that in God’s self-disclosing nature, He’s wanting to awaken in our hearts “faith”, an invitation to come.  Our hearts are burning to see His Glory transform this region of the world.  The only reason that’s even the case is because He has allowed us into His hearts desire for this people.  As a team we know that a part of what we are called to is sow into the generation to come.  But we also firmly believe that there is a dimension in God that we can touch, that we can enter, now.  Pulling into our present experience that which His heart is longing for.

Points for Prayer and Progress
Some of the things we covet your prayers on is favor and financing for our base here.  We have potentially found a place that would cover our licensing and suit our “House of Prayer” and “School of Equipping”.  We have prayed and feel peace from the Lord to move forward with it.  If all goes well, it will run us around $1800 a month for rent, not including utilities.  Please pray that we will build with the right people.  Also, F… and I will be doing some traveling in the near future within the region, connecting with people of like heart believing for open doors for the gospel of the glory of Christ.  We covet your prayers and support for these endeavors, whether stationary or mobile.  We have also been able to start some relationships with some local Muslim’s here and will be going out more consistently here as the weather gets warmer.  Please pray that God will pour out His mighty Spirit as the gospel prevails upon hearts, minds and bodies with the effective work of Calvary.  We are believing for mighty conversions and baptisms in the Holy Spirit.  Our God is great!  Thank you all again so much for all of your loving prayers and support towards our family, the team and the work here in […] and the […].  Peace to you all…

With Love… here is a video message:

Preach the Gospel AND Use Words!

St Francis of Assisi is said to have said something to the effect of “preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.”

In their zeal for the gospel many have taken to social media to post and tweet this quote to convey the message that your life must preach a gospel without necessarily communicating it verbally.

Such a quote is problematic because this is not what the Bible teaches. It is further problematic because no one can actually prove that Francis said this.

None of the biographies written in the 200 years after his death contain a reference to such a quote. It somehow made it into the folklore, and social media is taking it as fact.

Contrary to his modern image of a gentle soul, Francis was known not only for his finesse but also for his severity in sermons.

Early biographers wrote: “He denounced evil whenever he found it and made no effort to palliate it; from him a life of sin met with outspoken rebuke, not support. His words were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrating the marrow of the heart, so that listeners were turned to great amazement.”

Known as a preacher who sometimes preached as many as five sermons per day, it is unlikely that Francis of Assisi would have said this quote.

Evangelism is absolutely dependent on verbal communication, with nonverbal action playing a supporting role, and definitely not the other way around.

Jesus said in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” This entails telling, speaking, and preaching the good news.

And one of my favorite verses, Romans 10:14 “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

The world must hear our preaching. Your unsaved friend must hear the good news. Your neighbor must hear you telling them the Gospel.

Let’s alter this quote into “preach the gospel at all times, and it is necessary to use words!”

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The Gospel in an Abortion Culture

by Russell D. Moore @ http://www.russellmoore.com

On the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, Russell D. Moore touches on a painful subject below… abortion in the church:

As the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision [is this week], most Christians recognize, and rightly so, the loss of millions of unborn human lives. What we often forget is the second casualty of an abortion culture: the consciences of countless men and women.

Too often, pastors and church leaders assume that, when talking about abortion, their invisible debating partner is the “pro-choice” television commentator or politician. Not so. Many of the people endangered by the abortion culture aren’t even pro-choice.

In your congregation this Sunday, and in the neighborhoods around you right now, there are women vulnerable to abortionist propaganda, not because they reject the church but because they’re afraid they ‘ll lose the church. Pregnant young women are scared they will scandalize church people when they start to show, so they keep it secret. Parents are fearful their pregnant daughter, or their son’s pregnant girlfriend, will prompt the rest of the congregation to see them as bad families.

As they keep all of this secret from the Body of Christ, many of them fall prey to the false gospel of the abortion clinic. “We can take care of this for you,” these people say. “And it will all go away.”

Moreover, there are thousands of men and women in our churches who have aborted their children, or urged the abortion of their grandchildren. Bearing the shame of this, they keep it secret. And in the concealment, the satanic powers accuse them: “We know who you are; you’re a murderer, like us.”

Every time pastors and church leaders speak, they are speaking, at least potentially, to these men and women, the aborting and the abortionists. Many of these people don’t argue that the “fetus” is a “person.” Their consciences testify to that, and they’re either tortured by this or violently trying to sear over that persistent internal message.

The answer, for the church, is to preach the gospel to the conscience.

For many evangelicals, to “preach the gospel” seems to be obvious and ineffective because they think this means to, by rote, prompt people to accept Jesus and go to heaven. But the gospel speaks right where the abortion culture is in slavery, to the conscience.

For one thing, those guilty of this silent atrocity often don’t think we’re talking to them. For some, the demonic structures have helped them to conceal this secret, and to convince them the safest thing to do is to try to forget it altogether. Others are so burdened down by guilt, they really don’t believe they are included in the “whosoever will” of our gospel invitations.

Speak directly to these people. To the woman who has had the abortion. To the man who has paid for an abortion. To the health care worker who has profited off of tearing apart the bodies of the young and the consciences of their parents.

Speak clearly of the horror of judgement to come. Confirm what every accusing conscience already knows: clinic privacy laws cannot keep all this from being exposed at the tribunal of Christ. When the Light shines, there’s not enough darkness in which to hide and cringe.

But don’t stop there.

Proclaim just as openly that judgment has fallen on the quivering body of a crucified Jesus—accused by Satan, indicted by the Law, enveloped by the curse.

An abortion culture knows that hell exists, and they know judgment waits (Rom 2:14-16). Agree with them, but point them to the truth that God is not simply willing to forgive them. Show them how in Christ God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:26).

The woman who has had the abortion needs to know that, if she is hidden in Christ, God does not see her as “that woman who had the abortion.” He hasn’t been subverted from sending her to hell because she found a gospel “loophole.” In Christ, she’s already been to hell.

And, in the resurrected Christ, God has already told her what he thinks of her: “You are my beloved child and in you I am well-pleased.”

The consciences around us don’t believe what they’re telling themselves. They’re scared and accused. Shine the light in the eyes of their consciences. Prophetically. All for justice, legally and culturally, for the unborn. But don’t stop there.

After all, the spirit of murder doesn’t start or end in the abortion clinic (Matt. 5:21, 15:19; Jn. 8:44; Acts 9:1; Rom. 1:29; Jn. 3:15). And the blood of Christ has cleansed the consciences of rebels like all of us.

Warn of hell, but offer mercy. Offer that mercy not only at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but in the small groups and hallways of your church.

Evangelism at the End of Life

What are the odds that someone who has rejected Christ their entire life will be quickened by the Holy Spirit to accept Him in the last few weeks or days of their life when the finality of death becomes evident?

The honest answer is I do not know, but I do know that God works in mysterious ways for the conversion of the sinner.  Here is an example from my own experience.

During my Critical Care clerkship in med school I had the opportunity to observe an extremely puzzling sight.  In an ICU full of critically ill, sedated, intubated, ventilated, continuous-dialysis patients, I came across a patient in his 60’s who was fully awake and coherent.  He was sitting up with an oxygen mask on his face, a stark contrast when compared to the other patients.

Great was my shock when I heard the team talking about placing this man on comfort care to ease his respiratory difficulties stemming from his weak heart.

It turns out he was suffering from end-stage heart failure and was a “frequent-flier” in that particular ICU. He was not a heart transplant candidate, so his life was spent in the hospital with frequent decompensations and ICU admissions.  His heart failure was so severe that getting out of bed and walking was out of the question.

That day, after a conference with him, we agreed to place him in a comfort care suite aimed at relieving his “air-hunger” and allowing the disease to take its course.

My immediate concern was whether this man came to know Christ or not.  I knew that in a matter of days or sooner he will die.

I found the opportunity to speak to him privately that day.

“What do you think will happen to you when you get comfortable and pass away?” I asked.

“I don’t know” he said.

When I pressed him on the concept of life after death he labored to say that he believes he will go to heaven because he was a “good person” and because he was born Catholic. It became clear that he was not a born-again Christian.

I now was faced with a critical decision.

Should I evangelize him in this coherent but vulnerable emotional and physical state?  Should I tell him about salvation by grace through faith in Jesus?

I probably could have gotten in trouble if caught “taking advantage” of a dying man and sharing my faith, but I decided to give him a synopsis of the Gospel.  I did not know too much theology back then… but I presented the depravity of man as best I could, and told him how Jesus was the only solution as a substitutionary atonement for his sins.

He confessed he believed in Jesus.

Unaware of the problems of “decision theology” back then, I did what I saw Greg Laurie do at the Harvest Crusades when I used to attend as a kid.  I had him recite the sinner’s prayer after me and told him to thank God for saving him.

I had to cut our meeting short because my pager which had been silent the whole day rang three times in three minutes.  I told him to pray to God and thank him for Jesus, and I will visit him in the upcoming days to talk to him.

The next time I went to see him, he had passed away.

Was my approach the correct one?  Did I take advantage of a vulnerable person to get a “decision” out of him?

I think ultimately we are responsible to spread the good news no matter what the circumstance.  However, we are not responsible to worry about the work of conversion of the Holy Spirit.  God can and will save souls if He so desires, even at the end of life after a lifetime of sin and depravity.  Our duty is to preach the message of salvation because it is “the Son of Man [who] came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

Digging for Oil in the Mesopotamian: Update from Narcis Popovici (1)

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Many of the readers of this blog know how Narcis Popovici, a Romanian-American from Chicago answered the call of the Lord and moved to a country hostile to Christians in order to extend the Kingdom of God there.  Along with his wife and children, and another family they have left EVERYTHING behind without plans to return to the United States.  I have personally received permission to publish this message and use his name, while maintaining the other names and their location private due to security reasons.  It is an honor to be able to support Narcis and his team in this endeavor.

Dedicate this year to God

     Like many of you, we felt it right to consecrate the first part of this year for seeking the Lord’s face with fasting and prayer.  I can’t emphasize how beneficial seasons of fasting have been to our family.  We don’t feel like this is some kind of feat of Christian strength, more like a natural expression of recognized weakness without His moment by moment Spirit quickening in our lives.  A fresh re-prioritizing of the primary place of His nourishing word and breath in our lives.  The more we begin to taste of His world, the less of a pull our world will have upon us. 

Whether that  be the spirit of this age, pride, fear, discouragement, or a thousand other God-hostile forces of flesh and darkness.  Our prayer to God is for “the word of His mouth” for this year, and the grace and faithfulness necessary to walk it out, both for us and for you.  For His abundant “presence” in our lives to be the chief center of all we are, and the “anointing” of His Spirit to break every demon yoke seeking the distortion of His glory and destruction of His creation. 

The most precious natural resources in our world are usually hidden, in the soil of the earth, underwater or buried deep in mountains.  But those who will bore them out find great reward.  God often reveals aspects of Himself and His Kingdom in nature and we believe this is one of them, those who dig will find!  Please click the video link on the left, just under our family picture for a short video on what we believe concerning the lay of the land and a word of encouragement from the Lord.     
 
Phase One: In Motion
     This first month has been a wild one.  I wish the angels would do some of this practical stuff for us, but in the meantime you gotta do what you gotta do :-). If you were wondering, YES, things here run a lot slower and disorganized than they do in the west.  So here’s the good news, a month and a half in and we are; about fully furnished and settled here in our home.  Just purchased a large SUV to cart around the team and some of you who will be visiting (prophesying). 

Officially got our residency, 7 months approved because it was our first time and that should be extended by 1 year increments once it expires.  We will be starting language classes this week and have had the opportunity of seeing God heal and deliver on a couple of different occasions during this last month.  We are still seeking the Lord for a location for our base and working towards establishing relationships with some here locally that might partner with us in the work at hand.  […] and I might start doing some traveling perhaps in the spring, we are seeking the Lord for His continued leadership on all we do.   

Family Life
     We hope that your Christmas was blessed and that you were able to celebrate our Lords birth with family and friends.  Our Christmas was blessed, despite not being with so many of our family and friends back home.  We also celebrated […] 8th birthday just a couple of days ago!  Family is so important!  One of the things God has consistently emphasized in our lives and ministry is the value of family.  God is a family man, and spirituality must look like the divine presence, word and order of God worked into our everyday family life. 

If we haven’t connected with you in a while, please forgive us.  With so much going on, we’re trying our best to give attention to the needs at hand.  However, as time permits, you can connect with us via Skype, facetime, phone, Facebook or email.  We’d love to hear from you.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support, we are indebted to your love and faithfulness to God and to us!

With Love

The Love and the Sacrifice

This sermon from Planet Shakers 2007 was later dramatized using images from the highly acclaimed international movie MOST (The Bridge).  A father and a son desperately try to avert impending doom, but ultimately the father must make a choice between saving the lives of many or the life of his beloved son.

Even though this is not necessarily a theological perfect effort, it highlights a tiny glimpse of the Father when He chose to crush His Son.

Inspiring and emotionally charged to the max…