Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday/Monday in Vietnam

I spent Sunday worshiping with my family and doing some final shopping.  Today we went to tour one of several Buddhist temples in Siagon.  I have some fascinating pictures and stories.  I'll share a quick one. 

One of the things they sell in the temple is little birds.  I took a picture of one of the cages as a reminder.  The purpose of the birds is to be bought and set free by the worshiper.  In buying the bird and setting it free you earn favor with the gods and spirit world, basically it is to "ensure" good luck.  I was reminded over and over on this trip that people are people no matter where they live.  Every person has a "God shaped" hole inside, and we instinctively know its there.  We all try to fill it so we will be complete.  We try to fill it with good deeds, like the bird, we try to fill it with relationships, money, you name it has been used, but it all fails to satisfy.  There is only one thing/person who can do the job, and his name is Jesus the Christ.

This is my last post from Vietnam.  We leave the hotel at 3:30 AM Vietnam time and we are headed home.  I'm suppose to be in Jacksonville by 5 PM Tuesday afternoon EST.  I can't wait to see my girls, the big one too.  I love you Melissa, Morgan and Mya.

Serving Him,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday/Saturday in Vietnam

Friday was a good day for us.  We finished our assignment and the test was taken.  I was encouraged because I gave all the students a questionnaire to take home.  Every one of them handed it in, and as they are translated into English I will have some excellent material to work with for my project.  Now all I have to do, is finish everything else so I will be ready to use it when the time comes.  You can pray with me about that.  I would appreciate it.

We had a great meeting Friday afternoon with three experts in the field.  I was able to ask them some questions, but to honest I am dealing with an overload of information and I don't think I took advantage of them the way I should have.  I do have their contact information and will be able to continue the conversation over the next year.  I know that after being here these days, I have a lot more to pray about.  I know have names and faces to remember of our brothers and sisters in Christ who face great difficulties and uncertainties as they stand for King Jesus.  I encourage you to pray for your spiritual family; lift them up to the Father.  He is all they have and He is all they need.

Today Dr. Ewart is doing a training session with the local leadership.  I'm sitting here typing this while he is teaching.  This afternoon I will be able to complete my second book review for the week.  I will then settle down for some reading until about 4 PM, and then we will go do some shopping and eat supper. 

We will be home Tuesday and I can't wait to hold my girls. I love you Melissa, Morgan and Mya.  I can't wait to see you.

Serving Him,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday in Vietnam

Yesterday I had a very unexpected experience.  Dr. Ewart got sick, and at the last minute I had to teach the class all day.  I feel like the Lord really did an amazing work, even if it was only in me, but I am sure that I was not the only recipient of the His grace. 

I took some things from Dr. Ewarts powerpoint and jumped in.  The subject was "the Biblical Perspective of Leadership."  We looked at and gleaned leadership principles and characteristics by looking at OT and NT leaders.  We studied Abraham, Joseph, Moses and David.  In the NT we studied the lives of Jesus, Peter in Acts 10 and the relationship between Paul and Timothy.  I had a blast.  I am looking forward to having an opportunity to teach again in the future. 

We had a great meal last night with some great leaders here, and then we walked down to see the Siagon River.  This is an amazing city, over 10 million people.  I want to give you two amazing statistics: 1) 75% of the population of the country is under 35 years old, 2) over 60% of the population is under 25.  These number represent a multitude of lost young people.  I pray that God will use us to help lead/train in the reaching of them.  Will you pray with me for the lostness of these people? 

The weekend is here and we fly home Tuesday.  I can't wait to see my girls.

One of the best experiences of the week was this morning.  Through Skype technology I was able to have our family prayer time with my girls before they went to bed.  That was awesome!

Serving Him,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday/Wednesday in Vietnam

Today (Tuesday) the assignment began for us.  It is a great learning experience all the way around.  I am learning as much, hopefully, as the students.  I watch them and see a determination to learn and grow spiritually.  Leadership in the focus.  It was a long first day, but a great foundation is being laid.

We looked at Isaiah 62:10 as we began Wednesday morning.  This verse is a great foundation for leaders.  It says, "Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples."

In this verse, Isaiah is looking into the future prophecying of what will happen at the end of the Babylonian captivity.  He forsees the work of Ezra and Nehemiah.  He sees that the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple have been torn down and destoyed.  The work will be to rebuild, clear the way, and let the people know where the clear paths into the city are.  These things had to be done duirng that time and they still need to be done today.

Three quick ideas for the leader in you: 1) a leader builds or rebuilds what has been torn down, 2) a leader clears the path or highway for the people to be able to travel easily, and 3) a leader raises a banner or flag over the cleared pathway to let the people know the path has been cleared.  Are there new things in your life and ministry that need to be built or made stronger?  Are there things that have been torn down which need to be rebuilt?  Are there things in your life and ministry that need to be cleared away so that traveling into the city of God is made easy?  How are you signaling to the people around you that there is a clear pathway into the city of God?

You may here a sermon on this before too long.

Serving Him,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday in Vietnam

Today has been an interesting day. It started for me at 2:45 AM, not out of necessity but because I just woke up. I tried to go back to sleep, but by 3:30 I was just tired of laying in the bed.  I had fallen asleep at 6 PM. Woke up at 9 PM when my Melissa and the girls called me on Skype.  Went back to bed until 2:45.  I plan on staying up a little later tonight so that wake up call won't be so early in the morning.  But I did have a great time with the Father in his Word.  (Started reading Lamentations, about to finish Psalms, and am reading Proverbs through for the 3rd time this year.)  When I finished that time, I began writing a book review.  Maybe I will finish it tonight after supper.  I need to finish it and write another review while I'm here.

I have been apart of two very important conversations today.  One was with some organizational leaders, and another was with a company man.  My eyes are being opened and my mind is racing with thoughts and ideas.  The problem is that all of them are too broad for the scope of my project.  I guess I will have to make many more trips to this amazing place to complete all that is welling up in my heart. (I will have to wait until I'm home to be able to more easily express these things.)  I appreciate the people I am with who continue to bring me back into focus. 

On a different note, we went out this afternoon and did a little site seeing.  One of the most interesting things we saw was the building that housed the government of South Vietnam before it was "liberated."  It housed the President's office and living quarters, the government offices, and the military operations center during the war.  There is some fascinating history in Vietnam. There are two sides to the story, and they are very different perspectives.  I was able to take some pictures that I will post when I return to the States.  We also took an unfinished tour of a Buddist temple.  Hopefully we will finish touring it at weeks end. 

Pray for us as we begin the deal in the morning.  Pray especially for Dr. Ewart. 

Serving Him,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday in Vietnam

I was truly blessed to worship with my Vietnamese brothers and sisters. There was no translating the service into English, but it was good none-the-less.  They were celebrating 48 years of ministry.  The church was founded in 1962 and never closed its doors.  I won't go into the history during that time, but most know what happened.

It is obvious that our Heavenly Father has blessed these believers.  They have planted other churches.  They are a mother church.  They must have planted healthy churches because those churches have planted other churches. It is a grandmother.  But it doesn't stop there; it's like the energizer bunny, they just keep going and going and going.  I pray that HGBC will take on the challenge to be a healthy producer of reproducing churches.  Reproduction is an indication that a body is healthy; sickness leads to infertility.  Heavenly Father make us fruitful; help us to reproduce.

They have many of the same struggles the American church has, but they have a hunger to learn and obey that is uncommon back in the States.  As I am hear I pray that I can learn some things that will help our church to grow more spiritually mature through obedience, as I am here for my other assignments.  I greatly appreciate your prayers over the next 8 days. 

Serving Him,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I lost it somewhere

I did, really.  I lost it somewhere.  I lost Saturday somewhere on a United Airline flight from Chicago to Hong Kong.  I bet I find it on the way home, but it will be Tuesday then.  Since I left Jacksonville Friday morning at 6 I have been in a plane seat for over 20 hours between three flights.  We just landed in Vietnam, got checked into the hotel and now I am trying to wait patiently on my wife to get on Skype so I can talk to my girls before trying to get some sleep. I haven't had much of that.  I may have slept 4 hours between all my flights. 

Siagon is a city alive.  I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for Dr. Ewart and I over the next week. We are going to a church in the morning that is celebrating 48+ years of ministry.  We were told that in last weeks service it was standing room only.  They have SS at 7AM and worship at 8.  I am excited about being able to worship the one true God with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I'll try to keep the posts coming.  Pray for us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It All Started...

Well, It all started back in October of 2004.  You may ask, "what started in 2004?"  The answer is the journey of the Madaris family moving to HGBC in GCS.  It was during the Fall of 04 that I was asked to submit my resume to the pastor search committee.  It took a while for the Lord to get everything just the way he wanted it, but Melissa and I moved here with our baby daughter Morgan on October 31, 2005.  We began our ministry here the first Sunday in November of 2005.  This past Sunday I began my sixth year as lead pastor of the church. We have seen our Heavenly Father do some amazing things and be so faithful to his children and his church.  I am so grateful to God for allowing me to pastor his church in this place.  I am so thankful for the things he has taught me since I came.  I am also looking forward to what our Heavenly Father has in store for us in the future.  The sky's the limit.

I just returned from the Florida Baptist Convention in Brandon, Florida.  While I was there, the messengers of the convention voted overwhelmingly to adopt the six recommendations of the Imagine If Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.  I'm pumped to know that as Southern Baptists, we are refocusing on our Lord's command to make disciples to the ends of earth til the end of time.  These recommendations came on the heels of the SBC doing the same thing in Orlando back in June during the annual meeting.  I pray that Florida Baptists everywhere will allow the Holy Spirit to teach them and guide them into a proper understanding of what the Great Commission is all about.  I pray that Florida Baptists will faithfully lead their churches to increase CP giving so that we might send more missionaries into the field considering there are over 1.6 BILLION people who have never heard the name of Jesus redemptively.  It is a sad but motivating fact that there are over 6,400 people groups with no gospel witness.  We Florida Baptists and children of the most high God must take his message and his son to the nations.

With that in mind, I ask you to pray for me as I leave for Vietnam Friday.  I will be gone until the 23rd.  Pray for my family as we are apart.  Pray that our Heavenly Father will give me an effective time of study and ministry while I am there.  And pray that the Lord Jesus will give me an opportunity to begin the disciple making process with my brothers and sisters in Christ in Vietnam.  Thank you for your support and prayers.

Serving Him,