A Growing Disciple Shares God

Posted January 12, 2009 by timsamples
Categories: Uncategorized

American idol begins tomorrow night.  Don’t you love watching all those horrible wanna-be singers who have been deceived into believing they actually have singing talent?

Click the link below to see a few of them from the past.

Bad American Idol Singers

Yesterday at church, we studied Revelation 3:14-22, as a part of our Traits of a Growing Disciple series.  Verses 15-16 in this passage say that lukewarm believers disgust God.  We need to be growing disciples, not self-absorbed, halfhearted believers who have been deceived into thinking we have it all together, when in reality, we are not anywhere near where God wants us to be.

One way to keep from being lukewarm and be a growing disciple is to share God with others.  The goal, of course, is to lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but the path to this does not have to include an in-your-face confrontation.

There are several good ways to reach out to people to open up a door to share the good news of Jesus.  Here are a few:

1) Evangelism – taking the initiative to share the good news of Jesus and the love of God through regular conversations.  These conversations can be:

a) a quick word – like reminding the check out clerk at the grocery store that God loves them as you’re checking out

b) a short conversation – sharing the plan of salvation or your personal testimony about coming to know Christ as Savior with someone that you may, but probably won’t see again, like someone who comes to work on your house, someone in the waiting room of the doctor or mechanic, or the person next to you on a snow ski lift or on a plane.

Gospel tracks are a good way to share the Gospel when you don’t have time for a long conversation.  You can let people know God loves them and has an incredible plan for their life then give them a gospel track that points them to God.   You can read through it with them or leave it with them and ask them to read it when they get a chance.

c) a part of an ongoing relationship – perhaps with a neighbor, a family member, a co-worker, or a person you see regularly at a store, like a waiter, a bank teller or a hairdresser.

I heard about a man who went to share the Gospel with his ailing brother a few weeks ago.  He took a 4 Spiritual Laws gospel track with him and went through it with his brother.  The brother prayed to receive Christ as a result.  The brother died this past week.  Good thing he took the initiative to share when he did.

2) Serving in His name – this is serving others with no expectation of thanks or reward in mind.  You’re simply serving to impact another person by serving in the name of God and showing the love of God.

Examples of this include: taking food to teachers at a school, cutting a single mom’s lawn, visiting a nursing home and reading, talking and/or playing music to the elderly, feeding the homeless/needy at a feeding ministry, etc.

3) Praying for people – this is taking time to pray in person with someone, not just telling them you’ll pray for them later on.  Prayers can be short and simple, but they must be honest, heart-felt and faith-filled.  You’ll be surprised how this simple gesture lifts people up.

Next time you’re at a sit-down restaurant, before you thank God for the food, try asking your waiter or waitress if there is anything you can pray for him/her about and see where it leads.

4) Notes of encouragement – writing a note via text message, email or note card is a significant way to brighten someone’s day, especially if they are going through a difficult time.  Maybe you can share a key Scripture verse with them in your note or write out a short prayer for them.  Everyone needs encouragement and you may be the one that gives them that extra little push that they need to keep moving forward.

5) Intentional acts of kindness – investing time and energy into specific people with the goal of building a relationship that more easily allows you to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  Examples of this could be taking some food to a new neighbor, doing something nice for a co-worker, or helping someone you see a lot with a need that has gone unmet.

Keep your eyes open to opportunities all around you and share God every chance you get.


Whirlwind trip to SC

Posted January 10, 2009 by timsamples
Categories: Uncategorized

This past Thursday, Andrea, her mom, her sisters, our kids and I went to Anderson, SC, to visit Andrea’s grandmother (Nanny) in the hospital.   She’s trying to recover from emergency appendix surgery a few weeks ago.  She’s 95 and is having a hard time recovering.  She contracted a staph infection this week and they also had to insert a feeding tube a couple of days ago.

We got to see Andrea’s grandfather for just a little while before he had to go to his own doctor appt.

All in all it was a fruitful trip — long, but fruitful.

Please pray for Andrea’s grandmother to heal quickly.  Also remember her grandfather, they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year, so it’s extra tough for her grandfather during this time.


Posted December 23, 2008 by timsamples
Categories: Uncategorized

On Sunday, Andrea and I celebrated 17 years of marriage!  It’s hard to believe so much time has passed by so quickly.

We’ve had some terrific times in those 17 years.

  • I finished grad school and she finished her undergraduate studies, early in our marriage thankfully
  • We have three healthy kids
  • We have lived in five different cities in two different states
  • We’ve served on staff at six churches
  • We owned a pull behind camper for a short while and had some really fun camping trips
  • We’ve spent our lives trying to serve others and have made a ton of friends in the process
  • We finally gave in and got a black lab for the kids (it’s like having another kid)
  • We’ve seen many of the students we poured our lives into at various churches continue to follow and serve God faithfully
  • God had always provided for our needs and allowed Andrea to stay home with the kids

None of the above things are wildly amazing, but we are thankful for 17 great years of marriage, for our kids, and for the many great friends we’ve made in our years together.  We will continue to follow God’s lead in our lives and trust Him to continue to bless us in the coming years.

We still have another 53+ years to go to break Andrea’s grandparent’s marriage record though, and they’re still adding time to it.

Merry Christmas!

Posted December 22, 2008 by timsamples
Categories: Uncategorized

I have been amazed at how many store employees around town have been wishing me a “Merry Christmas!”  I have told each of them I’m proud of them for being daring enough to say those words in spite of all the political correctness garbage that is being spread.

In response to my words of encouragement to these employees, I’ve heard comments like:

“I asked if I could say it and management said I could, but I would have said it anyway.”

“I don’t know why people make a stink about it anyway.  After all, it is a federal holiday.”

and “I don’t say it to people who are obviously Muslim or Jewish.”

Most everybody I’ve talked to thinks the whole political correctness thing over Christmas is stupid.  I’ve had more fun saying those two words this year than every before, haven’t you?

I hope the persecution over saying “Merry Christmas” (although slight in comparison to persectuion around the world) will cause Christians and others to think about the wonderful religious freedoms we enjoy in the U.S.A.  I hope it will also cause them to reflect on the cost of being a Christian.  It’s not fun and fellowships all the time.  Persecution will come at times if we’re truly living a life of bold faith.

Now that we have a new president…

Posted November 5, 2008 by timsamples
Categories: Uncategorized

Before the election, there were Christians in both parties praying for their candidate to win.  I wonder if God was actually for either candidate.  It’s like the UGA vs. Florida game this past Saturday – strong Christian coach for UGA and strong Christian QB for FL.  Was God for either of them?

God was probably not for either McCain or Obama.  He is, I believe, for what will further His kingdom and encourage believers to be on their knees before Him, seeking to know Him more, pleading for revival and searching for His will on how to impact this world for Him (Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 2:10; Acts 1:8, among others).  God’s focus is bigger than one person, even if that person is the President of the United States.

Obama ran an excellent campaign; no one can dispute that.  He has massive appeal to many in this nation.  Even those who disagree with im politcally say he is a likeable fellow.   But here’s the thing, despite his appeal, enthusiasm, hope and plans for our nation, he will not be the redemptive agent for this nation or the world because that is not the role of the president and it is not the role of government.  The government should protect freedom and provide an environment of equal opportunity and legal justice, but it will not solve all the problems in the world, no matter how big the government is.

As long as people look to the government to solve the problems, our nation will continue to suffer and decline.  The problems in our nation are inherent within humanity (that is, sin!) and the only solution is salvation through Christ and a renewed mind and heart through the Spirit of God.  The solution can never be legislated.

I believe that the redemptive agent in the world is Christ through the Church and the believers within it not the government or government workers.  Though Expedition Church is still small, we’re already investing in our community and in leaders who are working to make a positive impact on children and families.  We are also encouraging our members to individually invest in the lives of others in our community, not simply rely on the institution of the church to impact people.   As we grow and God provides us opportunities, we will expand our influence for His kingdom on stateside and international levels.

The primary mission of Expedition Church is to help people know and experience God so that together we can impact the world for Jesus Christ.  We’re only one church, but we’re going to do what we can to make the world a better place with the Gospel being proclaimed all the while.  We can’t meet every need, but we’ll do our part.  If every church prayed more and focused more effort outside of its walls, seeking to fulfill its redemptive mission, the world would be a much different place.

Our nation is made up of individuals.  Those individuals combine to form families.  Those families together make communities.  Those communities together make states, which together form a nation.  If our nation is to be truly changed, it will start with a focus on individuals not a nation.  Ask Obama if this is true or not from a political standpoint.  He wil say a resounding, “Yes!!!”  That’s how he won the election.  Individuals coming together to influence families, communities, states and now the nation.  Commercials didn’t win the election for him, individuals did.

That being said, now that we have a new president, whether he was your candidate or not, we have a mandate to pray hard for him and our nation.  I prayed for Obama this morning.  Most of all though, we need to pray for revival in our nation, and take the message of Christ to individuals everywhere we go.  That will change our nation!

Keep the faith.  Point others to the only true Hope, that is Christ.  May believers everywhere be instrumental in taking that Hope to the world around us.

Peace to you all!

Point to Ponder

Posted November 3, 2008 by timsamples
Categories: Uncategorized

I asked everyone yesterday at church to be thinking about something this week.  I asked them to be thinking on how our church can maximize what we do on Sundays to impact people during the other six days of the week.

Many Christians live as “one day Christians.”  Some are “one day Christians” because one day a week is all these folks give God, and they don’t even give him much of that day.  Some are “one day Christians” because they say “one day” I’ll have more time to give God or “one day” I’ll commit myself wholeheartedly to God or “one day” I’ll get around to doing what I know God has called me to do, but for now, I don’t think I can do it.

The mindset of the “one day” Christian is what has made Christianity so unappealing to the world.  If God is so unimportant to those who call themselves Christians, why would a non-believer want to spend ANY of their already precious and scarce free time pursuing Him?

Our church will have five key program areas that we focus on:
1) Corporate Worship
2) Group Bible Study: children, youth and adult groups
3) Church Ministry Service: various ministries on Sunday mornings and during the week to help the church carry out its mission
4) Community Ministry: taking the Gospel to our community
5) Missions: taking the Gospel beyond our community

All of these are not isolated ministries, however.  We must build them all around the core belief that God wants us to personally know and experience Him every day. That means everything we do must help encourage and enable people to spend personal time with God not only on Sundays, but throughout the week.

We need to encourage individuals and families to pursue God because when we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13, 2 Chron. 15:2, Matthew 7:7).  As we find Him, we find Life (John 10:10 and 14:6) and Wisdom (Prov. 2:3-5).  God longs for us to spend time with Him and it is through that time with Him that He moves mightily in our lives.

So the question again is,  how can we best maximize what we do on Sundays, to help encourage, motivate and enable people to spend time with God each day of the week, not just on Sundays.

That’s part of what we’ll discuss on Sunday.

Core Value: Mission

Posted October 29, 2008 by timsamples
Categories: Church General, Community Impact

One of our core values is Mission.  The summary statement behind this core value is: The mission field begins on the other side of your front door.

Our missions emphasis comes from our vision statement which says, “Expedition Church exists to help people know and experience God so that together we can impact our world for Jesus Christ.”

Our missions emphasis has two aspects to it, the local aspect and the stateside/international aspect, but both will be built around 1) helping people know and experience God and 2) impacting our world for Jesus Christ.

Boiled down this means we want to help people grow in their personal relationship with God through worship, helping people develop spiritual habits, and by being involved in serving and spreading the message of Christ.  Funny thing about serving and sharing the Gospel…these actions not only impact others but they also help the one serving and sharing know and experience God in ways they could not otherwise.  Pretty cool, how that works!
Here are some further details about our local missions emphasis.

Help People Know and Experience God

1) Encourage Development of Personal Spiritual Habits  (especially Bible Study and prayer)

If people are not growing in their personal relationship with God outside the church then they are missing out on the most important part of being a Christian.  That’s why we must focus on this so much.

a. We will work especially hard to help people learn how to effectively read and study the Bible
b. We need to personally distribute Bibles and challenge people to read them
c. Group Bible Studies will be a big part of encouraging consistency of spiritual habits and providing a forum to talk about what God doing in one’s life
2) Provide a list of devotional resources

Several great online devotional resources are…

a)  podcasts through iTunes.  You can subscribe to through iTunes (available for Mac and PC).  Simply go to www.iTunes.com and download iTunes.  Once installed, from the main iTunes menu you can go to the iTunes Store and search for pastor/teachers whose  podcasts you want to hear.

Some great teachers that I really enjoy are:
Francis Chan – pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA
James MacDonald – pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel and teacher on Walk in the Word
Andy Stanley, pastor of Northpoint Community Church
Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch.tv
The Catalyst Podcast

b) www.oneplace.com allows you to search for various ministry website and hear various pastor/teachers

c) www.biblegateway.com has the Bible online in many translations with great search capabilities.

d) www.crosswalk.com also has many online articles and search capabilities

If we depend on God’s power and keep our focus on these areas, we will see lives changed.  As lives are changed, we will see our community and world changed.

3) Offer special spiritual emphases – like camps and retreats

4) Provide opportunities to serve and minister (people grow in unique and powerful ways through serving)

5) Provide opportunities for corporate worship

Locally Impact the World for Jesus Christ

1) Discipleship through groups and one-on-one or one-on-two efforts

2) Evangelism – personally and in groups

3) Serving in the church and in the community

a. Some opportunities to serve in the Church:
Tech Team
Set-up/Tear Down
Connections – getting people more involved the church and ministry
Missions coordination

b. Opportunities to serve In the community –   We’ve already served food to the teachers at Cass MS and Cass HS for their parent/teacher conference nights and taken a Moon Walk to Hamilton Crossing Elementary School for their fall festival.

4) Connections ministry  – getting people more involved the church and ministry

5) Supporting and assisting local ministry & evangelism efforts – Like Heaven Skates, a local ministry to skaters, to which we gave $300 last Sunday.