What is Partnership?

Sometimes I think it is important to clarify terms because words find their meaning in context. We can say words have concrete definitions but that is only because we have agreed that specific sounds in specific contexts mean certain things. If you have studied communication, then you know this goes even deeper. Generally, we agree on the definitions, but we do allow for a certain amount variation as long as it is not too different. For example, when I say black, I might include a range of dark blue and purple colors because they are all dark. You might have a better understanding of color and give each a different name. We can discuss the differences but, in most cases, it will not make a huge difference. Sometimes however the slight differences we give to words make an important difference. Today I thought I would define some words as I use them because I use them a lot in the context of missions and other ministry work. The word I want to look at today is partnership because a lot is going on in those three syllables.

What is great about this word is that whether you use the biblical word (koinōne) or you look at the standard English meaning you can still roughly get the same idea. The biblical meaning of this word just carries additional meaning and fills in some gaps. In general, the word means two or more people engaged in the same activity. That is pretty good. If you think of a team you need all the players working together to reach the desired goal of winning. That is not bad. So, if we decided to define the word this way then when I ask you to partner with us you can think “OK we want the same thing.” The problem is you can be partners to work towards the same goal without intimacy. I can play on the same team as someone and not like them. You can work with me but you might have a sub agenda and I might not be working towards that agenda. We can work together and not be together.

Koinōne comes to the rescue and fills in the gaps. This word means partnership but adds intimacy. It means we are not only working together towards the same goal but for the same reasons and we care for each other. This word gives additional responsibilities to each person on the team saying they need to look out for one another. They need to have the interest of the other as their own and that is what I mean when I say partnership. I am asking you to join with us for the same goal, with the same motives, and have my back. In turn, I am promising to have yours. I am saying that I want to work with you towards your goal and I care for you. It is not a light thing to join in partnership or koinōne with someone. This, by the way, is why the Bible talks about not partnering with sinful things. But that’s another story.

So, what makes up a team with this understanding? If we have defined partnership as working together towards the same goal, with the same motives, and having each other’s interest at heart, then who does what on a team? Well in missions and ministry there generally two roles: goers and senders. Each one has a different job, but both are vital and important.

Before we look at goers and senders let us first clarify one more thing. Prayer is the one thing that we all do on the team. I pray for you and you pray for me. I love prayer and believe it to be vital to life. It is life and breath, food and drink, comfort and request. Prayer is the beginning, middle, and end of everything we do. I will sprinkle that idea through the rest of this because it is that important.

Ok, on to the goers. That is us. We are going somewhere to do something. This is exciting and great and terrifying and a host of other things. It means giving up everything we know and moving to something we do not. It is exciting but it is also a loss of so many things. A loss of comfort and meeting with friends. A loss of knowing how to do even the most basic of things that we instinctively know how to do like who to acknowledge in public and who to avoid eye contact with. Going means leaving and leaving means loss but also means learning and sharing.

As we go into a new thing, we get the opportunity to tell people about Jesus. We get to bring light into darkness and hope into hopelessness. We get to bring truth. It is an honor and a privilege and a command. It is worth the loss because of what we are doing. In this one thing that we do is pray and we pray a lot. But we do not just pray for the things we are doing or the people we are interreacting with we pray for you, our friends and family. Your churches, your children, your small groups, your jobs, all of it. We do this for two reasons. First, because you are worth it. We want you to be blessed and walk into all that God has for you. Second, because it keeps us connected to you and ensures we have your best interest at heart. We as goers do not just go, we pray for those who send.

Senders are such an important part of the team. If we did not have senders, we would not have much of the New Testament. The letter to the Philippians is Paul writing to a group of people who sent him out to plant more churches. The letter is Paul giving them an update and talking to his friends. It is like a newsletter. In Philippians 4:15 Paul writes to his friends who sent him.

Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only

Paul is acknowledging the partnership and at the beginning of the letter, he tells them that he prays for them often and tells them what he is praying. This, by the way, is why I text people that I am praying for them. I think it is so amazing when we pray for each other and then let the other person know. It does something to you and breathes life into your day. It tells you in an instant that you are important to someone and they have your back.

So just like the goers, senders pray. When we say we want you to be praying or us it is not a plow or a subtle plea to then ask for money. No, we want and need prayer. I am not subtle about asking for finances.

We need finances to go. There are no two ways about it. Money is required in ministry because while God owns the cattle on a thousand hills a lot of that cattle is under someone else’s care. Money is not a dirty word or a wicked thing. It is a tool that is to be used. Enjoy it, spend it, buy stuff, but also use it for greater things. There is something amazing that happens to your prayers when you are financially tied to the mission. You are now connected to it in a new and deep way. It moves from being something someone else is doing to something you are doing as well.

Some will say, I can only pray. First, let me say there is nothing only about prayer. I think by now you know I think prayer is powerful and important. Second, that is OK because we need people praying. If you want, I can add you to Julie’s prayer emails. She sends out emails more often than the newsletter and gives more specifics about things we are praying for. We want to be praying for you too so let us know. Prayer partners are partners and important ones.

Others can partner financially in addition to praying, and this is needed. We have people we partner with financially and it has made a huge difference in the way we pray for them and the way we pray in general. It takes that prayer to another level because you are literally invested into it. You are tied to it differently. You rejoice differently and you mourn differently. When we give to something with our finances, we want to see it happen, so we talk about it more, we give to it more, we pray more, and when it happens, we are so excited.

So that is what I mean when I say partnership. It is not just working towards the same goal, I am asking you to join with us for the same goal, with the same motives, to have my back, and to know that I have yours.

So am asking you for money? Yes. No two ways around it. But more than that I am asking you to partner with us as we move towards a common goal, to have each others backs, and be in this thing together.

Just a thought,

Mike

 

10:10 Prayer

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During worship at church, I felt like we need to be praying big and praying specific prayers. The idea is to be praying for 10 new missions’ partners for the next 10 days at 10:10 who can give special gifts of $1000 each. That will put us at half way of our total. Will you pray with us? Or maybe you are one of the 10. We are looking for individuals, groups, churches, or even businesses that want to come alongside what God is doing and help us bring the Gospel to France this Fall. Is it a bit scary to pray bold prayers like this? Yes. Absolutely. But we often find God when stepping out in faith. So set your calendar for 10:10 each day (AM or PM or Both) and let’s see what God does.
 
If you feel led to be one of the 10 click here. We would be honored to have you as a partner https://teamexpansion.org/thefarleys/

Going the Distance

I have been thinking about Johann Dober and David Nitschmann who were so determined to minister to the slaves in St Thomas and St Croix that they were willing to sell themselves as slaves. I don’t think they ended having to do this, but they were willing to go the distance. I have also been thinking about Gladys Aylward who was so determined to get to China to be part of the ministry there that she worked for years as a maid to pay her own way. She was willing to go the distance. When I think missions, I think a lot of things, and one of those things is that we must be willing to go the distance. We must be willing to do whatever it takes (biblically) to reach the people we so desire to serve. What cost is too high?

Paul says 1 Corinthians 9:22 I have become all things to all people so that some might be saved. Yes, this means we take interest in the things that interest other people and yes it means we give up things so not to as offend but it also means we are willing to go the distance and be uncomfortable. In Acts 18:3 it says Paul was a tentmaker in Italy because the people he was with were tentmakers (he was also a tentmaker). In 2 Corinthians 11:7-15 Paul says he did not take money from the Corinthians because he did not want to offend or burden. Paul was willing to go the distance.

I don’t exactly know what it means for me to go the distance and I more certainly don’t know what it means for you to go the distance in missions. But I do know we must be willing to do it. We must be willing to sacrifice and live a life that gives preference to the call of God. It can be hard, and it can be tough, but it will always be worth it.

When we serve God when we are willing to take up our cross when we are willing to go the distance people and things change. Yes, the people around us see Christ and find hope and healing but we also change. We become filled with less of us and more of Him. We pour out our lives as a drink offering and in return, God fills us with more of Him.

So as Dober and Nitschmann said as they left for the West Indies “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering”

Just a thought,

Mike.

France Missions

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever would believe in Him would not die but have everlasting life.

There is a constant theme that runs throughout the Bible that God has been and is calling people to Himself. He desires a relationship with creation. That is His desire and His will. That is the reason behind the sending of Christ to live, die, and rise again.

I want to show you the reason that France needs churches. So, we are going to compare Houston and Paris because they have the same population.

In Houston, there is 1 church for every 1,000 people. These are people who have the opportunity to gather together to rejoice, find love and hope, they can come and hear the words of life, they can come and sing songs of praise to their creator. They can serve the community. They have the opportunity to find the truth and be Gods called people. This is beautiful and wonderful. This is powerful and we should celebrate that this is a possibility.

In France, there is 1 evangelical church per 30,000 people in France. This 1 lone church for 30,000 people is overwhelmed. These are people who do not have the opportunity to gather together to rejoice, find love and hope, they cannot come and hear the words of life, they cannot come and sing songs of praise to their creator. How can we expect this 1 church to reach 30,000 people? It does not have the resources, the people, the funds, the time, the energy to do this. On top of that to do it on hard soil.

France is often called the missionary graveyard because of how hard it is. In France, most people have no idea about the Christian faith. They have never heard basic Bible stories and in times of trouble, hardship, fear, and doubt they have nowhere to turn. In France, it is a battle for the hearts and souls of people. This, of course, does not even touch the problem they face with Arab refugees. Men and women who have had to leave their homes because of wars and political uncertainty. People who have lost everything and fled to France for safety. Thousands who left everything and now live homeless in a new land where they cannot speak the language and have little to no access to help. In some areas, there are children as young as 10 wandering around in groups who have no parents no structure no hope. That 1 church cannot help. There is just too much to do. Their world is just too hard. Just as we should celebrate the situation in Houston, we should mourn the situation in France.

Missions can and should be a lot of things. It can be digging wells, creating education programs, job training, teaching English or French or whatever. It can be medical and psychological help. We know that because we can look at Jesus and see that He did many of these types of things. Jesus was amazing at medical missions. It can be all these things, but it must also first be Jesus. It must first be for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. If missions is anything it is first a message of reconciliation to God.

Julie and I more or less grew up in New England under the shadow of post-Christian and secular ideals. We were like those who did not care for the things of God but because of what God brought us through we are called to go and serve those who not only know nothing of the great and mighty Savior but also those who are alone and left to fend for themselves. We are called to go and minister to the lost, the hurting, and the left the behind. My question is seeing this need can you call yourself called along with us. If you are, then click here and partner with us as bring Christ to France.

Just a thought,

Mike

Answer the Why

We have spoken about fight time. That magical moment when it is go time. We have also looked at what we can do when the going gets hard. Those times when we feel like quitting or we if not quitting when we just don’t understand why it has to be so hard. This week I want to look at why. Why do it at all?

In the Bible (Luke 7:36-50) there is this story about a woman who washes Jesus feet with perfume and tears. When I read this story, I cannot help but stand in awe. I stand in awe of Jesus who loved her, I stand in awe of the woman who wept her tears on His feet, and I stand in awe at the religious who would have cast her aside. This woman serves as an inspiration and an example to me.

She is an inspiration because she did not care who else was around. She was going to give the Master the respect that was due to Him. She did not care what was going on or who might see her. She knew who she was, and she knew what she was doing. She was a sinner. She knew this. Simon the Pharisee knew it. More importantly, Jesus knew this. It does not say what her sin was that got her labeled a sinner, but it does say that her sins were many. I think that the simple label of sinner is for our benefit. She was a sinner that is all we know. Is it not the same with us?

We are all sinners. Don’t take that as an attack or an accusation from me. It is just a simple statement of fact. It would be the same as me saying we are all human. We sin. Sin is anything that goes against the nature of a holy and perfect God. It is not an attack but a statement. It doesn’t really matter what your sin is. Some are big and some are small. Some carry more consequence than others, but we are all relatively in the same boat. We all sin against God. The point I want to make is this woman knew that but more importantly, she knew what to do about it.

What good does it do to know you have a problem if you are not willing to do anything about it? If I find out I have some illness that does not really help me. I need to know what the illness is and how to fix it. I broke my wrist once. It was swollen and I was in a good amount of pain. Because I had never broken anything before, I thought it was just a bad sprain. After some encouragement from my wife, I went to the hospital and low and behold I had a broken wrist. That was good information. Bad situation but good info. My first question was “ok now what?” I needed to know what to do with the information I had.

This woman had the information. She was a sinner. That did not help her. Knowing you are a sinner, knowing that you are separated from God, knowing that the entire community looks down on you, knowing that you cry yourself to sleep does not help. Knowing what to do about that problem does. So, she went to Jesus because she had heard all about Him. She had heard about how He went around healing people. She heard stories about how He healed the lepers, restored sight to the blind, and healed withered hands but she also heard that He forgave sins. This woman came to Jesus and washed His feet with her tears and perfume before He ever said I forgive you. She was confident that He would because of what she heard about Him.

When I think about the question, why missions the only answer I can come up with is because both Christ and you are worth it. I cannot stand that some people don’t have that confidence in Jesus. There are all sorts of theological reasons and I could give you some, but the simple truth is that there are so many people who have never heard His name or know that He loves them. That even while we were sinners Christ died for the ungodly. Why missions? Because they have to know, and I have to tell them. There are millions and billions of people who don’t know the story of Jesus. There are millions and billions of people who don’t know that God loves them. How can I be expected to sit in my home and do nothing about this? I was once a person who did not know this. I know what it is like to feel alone and outcast. But not anymore. So why missions? Because Jesus and you are worth it. Because I must!

What about you? Can you answer your why question? Why are you involved in the ministry you are involved in? Or why are you not involved? You have to be able to answer the question of why? God does not create sideline Christians. We are all called to serve in some area. Some are called to multiple areas, but we are all called.

Just a thought,

Mike

My daughter is a mission field

I just finished reading Mark Oestreicher’s book Youth Ministry 3.0, and yes I know it is old news but guess what I don’t care. I buy my books from the used book store and I figure if the information is any good it should still be relevant. Everyone is always like “hey did you read that new book by blah blah” and I’m all like “hey have you heard of this guy Watchman Nee? I’d like him to sign my book.”

Anyway that has nothing to do with anything. I just want to take a minute of your time and tell you why you should read or not read this book (Youth Ministry 3.0). I think the information is good, I think the messages on the sides of the pages are helpful, and I think that by and large you can put into practice a lot of the things in the book even if you are not in youth ministry.

Read If:

You are willing to change

You are willing to grow

You desire to see maturity in your life and the life of your students

You are somewhat tired of coming up with a new and exciting game for youth every week

 

Don’t Read If:

You love being the Messiah

You really enjoy being the Rock Star of the church

You think that numbers equal fruit

You are dyslexic

Everyone has a different major take away from reading a book and my major number one takeaway from reading this book was missions. If a kid is allowing you in their life then understand you are a visitor not a resident. Think back to your own childhood / adolescence. You might have let some adults in but not all the way in. If they got too close you changed the rules so they could not longer be close. It is the same nowadays only worse (I think). So if we are going to minister to youth we need to understand we do not have all the info most of the time. Most of the time they only give us what they want us to have and if we take to much they lose interest.

Music is a great example because it is always changing. My daughter was really into Adele for a while. She would sing it in the shower and on her karaoke machine. She would ask me to play it while we drove somewhere it was all she listened to. However once I started to listening to it on my own she no longer had interest. I had taken something she liked and made it my own so she could no longer have it. I had accidentally stolen part of her identity. It was an honest mistake but a mistake nonetheless. Now she has moved on and is trying to find something new but won’t let me know what it is. Now of course I do know because she does not use headphones so I hear almost everything. But she is guarding that part of herself.

What I learned (or was reminded of) is even though she is my daughter she is a mission field to me and if she lets me in on something I need to be careful not to take her things on as my own. I think to some extend and this is just a hunch that some of the problems we see youth facing today are in a way our fault as leaders for taking what they like as our own. They are into this so we put it in church, or watch it, or pin it, or post it, or whatever. So the only response they have is to go somewhere we are not willing to go. This way they have their own person-ness (just made that word up).

I am in no way suggesting we should not know what they are into, but we do not necessarily have to embrace everything they like after all we are the adults maybe we should learn what we like by now. Maybe instead of conforming to their culture we just need to know about so we can lead them out of the dangerous stuff.

I know the videos she watches because I go through her devices. I have learned what / who Miranda Sings is and we have spoken about some of her videos. We know what she listens to and my wife has spoken with her about some song choices. But I have also decided that I need to let her have some things so that she will not try and go to an extreme just to be unique.

My daughter is a mission field, and if I am to help her grow and learn what it is to follow Christ then I need to learn about her, study her, and find out what makes her tick. But like being a missionary that does not mean I become a native but instead I choose to be an ambassador to her. Are the other youths I lead any different?

Just a thought,

Mike

A thank you from my wife

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Hello everyone! I am home from Haiti and wow what a week! I wanted to thank each one of you for your financial support and prayers. This was truly a dream come true and I am sure this is my first mission trip of many. God showed up big time, He poured out His love on us as a team everyday so we were then able to go and share His love with the people of Haiti. We went thinking we were going to change the lives of the Haitian people and instead they changed my life forever. We did do a lot, we hiked a mountain and brought food to a group of people who are unreached and went into the city of Les Cayes to visit the first Assemblies of God church plant there. The building is still being built.  We ran a few kids programs while we were there and in the three services we did we reached over 700 children with the love of Christ. We had a blast loving on these kids. We went to the village of Scipion and ministered to the community.  There is a school in this village with about 30 students we brought them rice and fun things like bubbles and balloons we even brought some jump ropes and had fun playing with them. When we arrived at the school the entire community came out to see what was going on, so when it was time to pass out snack to the school kids we didn’t have enough for the other children in the village, this broke my heart. The young boy in the picture with me here was one of the kids not apart of the school. He was watching as each of the school kids received snacks and the look on his face brought me to tears. I sat under a tree with him and played with him and prayed over him. This little boy changed me. I pray for him and the many like him daily, that he will find Christ and grow to be a man of God. My heart rejoiced as one of the school boys came over and shared his snack with the children by the tree. He didn’t give out of his of his plenty but out of the little he had. May we all be like that little boy who made a difference in the lives of those kids that day. I have been forever changed by the people of Haiti, and I thank you for being a huge part in that. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you and I am extremely grateful.

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Thank you again for your prayers and Support.

Love in Christ,

Julie Farley

Smelly Faces

Yesterday was the my wifes first full day back from her missions trip to Haiti.  I had been prepping for her return by doing some reading on how to help them cope with being back in the States, getting ready to just listen, ramping my self up to assure her to take her time not to rush and share what she is not ready for.  I was ready for this.  I knew my strengths and weaknesses but I was ready, or so I thought.

Something that was missing in the articles and advice was something that hit me hard, and kept on hitting.  My wife had a smelly face.  No she did not need a shower because this smell could not be washed off.  It wasn’t just her face though.  All over her she just smelled.  She smelled like Jesus.  I was not ready for it either.  She started with telling some stories, and then showing some pictures.  That was all fine and well, but something started to hit me.  The more she spoke the more it filled the air.  Then she did something that just filled the house with the smell she started putting some stuff away and I do not think her feet hit the ground.  She simply float around the house.  Singing and praising God.

I have seen my wife in a wedding dress, and in pregnancy (the two most common stages of glowing) and neither of these glows could match this one.  It was hard to look at.

See in 2 Corinthians 2:15 is says

“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”  

It means that people should be able to smell God on you.  You should stink with so much Jesus that people either hold their nose around you or smell you like a fresh cake to be blunt you should stink.

While 2 Corinthians 3:18 says

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Which just means when people look at us they should see something different.  It is a little harder to explain but think of it like the glow of love.  People look at you and just know there is something there, something different.

Well my wife came back from Haiti fully polished and pungent, and I did not expect it.  I did not expect that her mere presence would make me feel like Peter when he told Jesus to go away because he was a sinful man, or when the leper broke custom and approached Jesus for healing.  I am not saying my wife is the Messiah but I am saying she has Jesus all over her.  It broke me some to be honest.  I knew in an instant that I need to do exactly what God says and exactly how He says it even though I am still not sure what He is saying.

The hard part now is trying to stop the world from trying to cover up the smell on my wife.

Just a thought,

Mike