Anticipating and Attempting

”Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

– William Carey

In Acts 19.8-10 it is reported that Paul entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

We all have different gifts, personalities, experiences that shape us. We also have the Holy Spirit, are called to be disciples and are entrusted with the gospel as the Lord’s ambassadors to our cities. I am challenged with the reality that we live out the truths we are most convinced of. Does my lifestyle reflect how convinced I am of the gospel? Do I truly believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life? Do I believe that Jesus is the hope and the only path of restoration to the brokenness that surrounds us?

The Kingdom of God has come. This is a past event. I am struck that this was the content of Paul’s message. I see this also in the beginning of Acts before Jesus ascended. It says that for forty days Jesus talked to them about the Kingdom of heaven. How often is the content of what I am trying to encourage people in has to deal with the Kingdom? Yes there is opposition. This we are guaranteed. We have this model to have a season of persuasion. That it is okay to keep at it even when others oppose. After some time, there is the change of location with disciples. How did Paul train them? How did Paul instruct them? What we know that is in two years time, with those that heard, obeyed, were taught, were able to see a movement. They were able to say there is no place left in Asia where the word of God has not gone.

Can we say this for our regions? May this year be a time that we anticipated GREAT THINGS FROM GOD. May this be a time where we step outside our comfort zones and dare to ATTEMPT GREAT THINGS FOR GOD. The gospel is worth it. Jesus is worth it. The lives of those around us are worth it.

Sarah Bedi serving in Luleå, bedi45@gmail.com

Annonser

Plus 1

Often when the Holy Spirit begins to challenge me in area that I need to grow in, to obey or to have deeper understanding of truth, it can seem abstract and very general. I can have good intentions to engage the Holy Spirit in transformation, but I found that it really helps me when I can verbalize a plus 1. What is one small step I can take in order to respond to what the Holy Spirit is doing?

My heart is very aware of how many people I know and love that are far from Jesus. Knowing the great gift of mercy I have received and what new life is like, I desire for everyone to have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It feels overwhelming at times. How do I know when to share? When do I initiate? When do I wait for him/her to bring it up? Would they know how to bring it up? I don’t want to ruin friendships but I also want to speak truth. Is it ever comfortable to speak truth?

The plus 1 that the Lord has shown me in this area is to create a oikos map. The word oikos in the Bible is used to describe the immediate relationships that exist in a persons life. As I think through the areas of influence that are naturally already part of life, I can easily see who I rub shoulders with that might now be walking in a right relationship with Jesus. My family, neighbors, the work place, where I go to the gym, and the coffee shop I use often all provide a list of people that I would love to experience the love and grace of Jesus.

Oikos

I don’t know every one on this map very well. Sure my family I know well and I have been praying for them. Others are places I visit often enough that there are familiar faces. This gives me a tangible way to pray for them daily and ask the Lord to open opportunities for each one to have an open heart for the gospel. I can also the Lord to show me who He has been working in that I might share with this week. I can pray for boldness to share the gospel. Every week when I meet with my church or friend who we spiritually encourage one another, I can take my map out and update it celebrating opportunities the Lord had given and add new names to people I have met. What I can do is to commit to praying every day for these people. Here is my plus 1.

What would be a plus 1 for you to be more intentional about sowing seeds of truth and grace in your areas of influence? Maybe the Oikos Map will help you!

Sarah Bedi serving in Luleå, bedi45@gmail.com

What would be a plus 1 for you to be more intentional about sowing seeds of truth and grace in your areas of influence? Maybe the Oikos Map will help you!

Sarah Bedi serving in Luleå, bedi45@gmail.com

Obstacles to Opportunities

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I Have overcome the world.”  – Jesus

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with  you all” – Paul

What are the obstacles you are facing? For me the obstacles I am facing are coming from different directions. There are the ones that are posed by those around me, the culture, the enemy, the resistance I see as I push forward with the vision that the Lord has put in my heart. There are the obstacles of my flesh where I fail to do what I know I ought to do and obey the Scriptures. The obstacles of what I must deal with by heart and injustice that affects me like the loss of a loved one to early.

How are we handling the obstacles?

Isaiah 26.3&4 states, ”You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

I am learning the connection between peace and prayer. Peace is not something I can make happen and manufacture in my own strength. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit that grows as I sit in His presence and engage the Spirit to transform me. Peace comes when I surrender my mind, my emotions, my situations & circumstances before Him and focus on what I know to be true.

Jesus has overcome the world. I am learning that obstacles are the avenue for the Lord to shape my character, to display His glory and to strengthen community. Let us take time to praise God and thank Him for the obstacles that He has allowed to enter as to take away the sting of the enemy. Let us praise God for He has overcome every obstacles and there is nothing that He cannot handle.

Would you take a moment right now to list out some of your current obstacle? Ask the Lord to take each obstacle and turn it into a great opportunity to advance the gospel and therefore the Kingdom of God in your city. Ask the Lord to renew the joy of your heart, to forgive you for any unbelief and doubt, and to increase your faith. May we anticipate the testimonies of what will be as we wrestle in prayer trusting Him.

Sarah Bedi serving in Luleå  –  bedi45@gmail.com

Team verse Network

Living in a new place, meeting all sorts of people and dreaming of what God wants to do excites me, energizes me and motivates me to explore. I have been meeting many great people who are desiring to do good and acknowledge God. The longer I live here, the more aware I become of the needs great and small. You see the strongholds that exist within the culture and patterns of lifestyle. I have often been asking myself how do I take steps towards what God is showing me? How do I discern from all that I see to what specifically is God asking me to join Him with? How do I be supportive and work with others within the city yet be aware of my own limitations with relationships, energy and time? I have had moments where there was victory and breakthrough in conversations and other moments of extreme disappointment and departing from someone unsure if I would work with them again.  Through this, I am learning the difference between team and network, the need of both and the need to understand expectations from those around me as well as myself and what I can offer.

I believe biblically that team is important. Jesus sent the disciples out in 2s. The apostles worked as team seeking the Spirit’s leading in guiding the early church. I also grew up playing sports with a team. I love team. I want to be a team player. Why am I getting frustrated with team? I am learning the importance of distinguishing the relationships I have with different people and groups so that we can define to what level do we work together.

For the church plant end goal I am labouring towards I want and need a team. We, as a team, are looking to define the end goal and what it looks like at every level, the mission and purposes of why it exists, the values it is built upon and the goals and objectives accomplished at every stage.  We have agreed doctrine of beliefs and how we believe to live them out.  The team needs to define our language and culture and be living it out so that we can one team on one playing field with the same sport – the same model and methods. With this group we can collaborate at every level and have expectations of each other to work through every hurdle. We are committed to God, the work and each other.

As I am learning more about the different people who are labouring for the gospel, I am learning more about network. There are like-minded people who I respect, admire and learn from. Yet the reality is that they have a commitment to their work, their group of people and their way of doing things. We do have a common ground of theology and biblical principle where we can work together, brainstorm, process and learn from one another. We can facilitate a network of different denomination, different models and different methods so that we can see God’s glory displayed throughout the city with each of us doing our part.

There are some people I do not want to work with. I don’t want to be mean or judgmental. I love people and believe God can use anyone who is willing. Yet I can not partner to any extent with leaders who do not see Jesus as Lord and Savior or see the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. I will not compromise on the gospel and the commission that Jesus gave us. I will pray that God removes false teachers from the city. I can love and respect people, but I will not network with them and certainly not consider working on their team.

So here is some more food for thought with some of the different areas the Lord has been speaking to me and teaching me how to think and consider different aspects of church planting. May God help each of us grow a healthy team to work in the trenches with closely, a network within the city to allow for a greater unity of the body of believers to be displayed and discernment for relationships that do not need our time and energy.

Written by Sarah Bedi, living in Luleå

Yes Lord, remove the idols

Some of the lessons I continue to learn as I desire to the Kingdom expand!

”It’s not your old life you want back; it’s your old idols you want back, and I love you too much to give them back to you.”

A friend recently gave me a book entitled Jesus + Nothing = Everything. A man testifying to the gospel transforming him through a journey of obedience. When we follow God’s leading, there is the desire that everything will unfold smoothly yet that is not always the case. People who once fully supported a decision and direction will begin to question and sometimes even slander us. Change is not easy. Obedience is not easy as it often is counter cultural. When everything felt hard and there was no end in sight, the author cried out to God in weariness, fear and anger. The response was the quote above.

I am encouraged to be reminded that God loves me too much to allow myself to get caught up in all the ”what’s not” happenings around me and constantly inviting me to focus on the ”what is”.  As I look to see a new church planted and thriving, I can find many reasons to be discouraged. It’s not moving fast enough. People don’t understand. How do I describe where we actually are today without exaggerating? Maybe some people no longer want a church plant. I don’t see this and I don’t see that. I want to describe the work so that I could look like I know what I am doing or so people can think some kind of way about me. If my mind stays focused on what is not, I find the need to defend, prove or justify something.

Instead the truth is that I can find so much encouragement by what is. As I look in the scriptures and observe how it worked over time, God was never in a rush. It always came back to what we have in Christ. The journey of making God known does not supersede my own walk with Jesus and daily being transformed by the gospel. How am I am modelling transformation so that those I am influencing see it and desire it? What idols am I longing to cling to rather than discovering deeper freedom in the gospel?

How does this relate to church planting? The current work in so many ways is encouraging. Yet when I look at what is not, my gaze and focus can be turned toward unhelpful concerns.  Learning how keep my gaze focused on Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to remove idols that would hinder my own life from being transformed is a great place to be! If I desire a healthy growing church to exist, it begins with a community being transformed by the gospel and every member cultivating other discipleship relationships seeing the same thing. If the gospel is not transforming us as individuals or a community, then the desire for a church plant can become its own idol.

I don’t want my old life back and I know I don’t want idols in my life. May the Lord continue to have His way with me so that He may be glorified in whatever way it looks.

Written by Sarah Bedi serving in Luleå. bedi45@gmail.com

 

Still learning :)

I remember the feelings of urgency in wanting to make up for what I had sometimes felt as “lost time” all the while trying to find my footing in a new land with a new language and a new pace. As I met people who loved Jesus and enjoyed fellowship, I grew in excitement on what the Lord would do these coming years and the privilege He has given me to run with those I was meeting. I had a vision, a picture of how God was leading and now it was time to hop in the trenches and learn how to take steps toward that end.

What was the need? I started to meet with a group of people who loved Jesus, yet I quickly learned about the discomfort and insecurity most had when it came to sharing why they believe in Jesus. I thought to myself, okay great, here is where we need to start. We must grow in confidence and competence in sharing our story and God’s story with one another so that we can increase boldness to share it with others far from God. I was excited and felt that everything was clear.

Yet nothing was working. I tried breaking down simple tools. I tried demonstrating. I asked questions. I was laboring. Was this the reality I was suppose to accept? Was I suppose to chalk this up to cultural differences? I sought Jesus on what to do. How do you equip people? Aha. Is that the right question I need to be asking? I felt like God saying to me, who does the equipping?

In the beginning of Mark, Jesus’ first words state, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” I realized I had a group of people that didn’t know how to follow Jesus. We can’t manufacture ourselves to be fisher’s of men. The Holy Spirit must have room to that work in us. As God led us to take the focus off of being equipped as fishers of men and moved it towards the Father’s heart, a beautiful reality unfolded. We were all falling in love with Jesus. Students were enjoying their relationship with God reading the word, wanting more time in prayer and even fasting. And as the Holy Spirit taught us to follow Him, we had more opportunities to share our faith as life was happening. 

We still need tools. Yet I am learning the necessity to cultivate a culture whose motivation is for following the King.

Sarah Bedi serving in Luleå

Lesson One

I remember many questions that rose on my first trip to Sweden. How different were we? Externally there were many components to life that are similar to life in the states. People enjoy fashion, seeing the latest movie and talking about the current sports. Our team was incredibly welcomed by the churches and cared for with hospitality from different families. We had fun. We played games, hung out with youth, drank coffee, went to church, and handled our business. How different were we?

There was one question that stood out more than the others. Was my christianity motivated out my American culture or the Bible? I was driven to search out whether or not this popular american phrase, “Be all you can be,” was purely American. What are the correct expectations to have on a believer that would be a cross-cultural principle? I have my personality to consider…I am a high I on the DISC test, an out loud processor, and I love people. Interacting with northern swedes whose most common response was an inhaled whistle sound to me threw me for many loops.

What culture our we creating in the groups we facilitate? Whether a leader’s meeting, small group, large group gatherings, as leaders we have a responsibility to cultivate a biblical culture advancing the Kingdom of God. There is an aspect of “be all you can be” that is completely american. We make posters, bumper stickers, t-shirts, key chains and market our vision in any and every way possible. Yet as I search the scriptures, there is a biblical “be all you can be” follower of Jesus. Jesus did not give permission for cultural trends that quenched the movement of the Spirit of God instead he challenged them towards God’s perspective. 

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16.24-25)

I love the Swedish culture. There are many aspects to the swedish worldview that as I learn them, I grow as a person for the better. I have only lived here now for one year and I have so much more to learn and understand. I don’t want Swedes to act like Americans. I want us to learn how to sharpen each other to live more biblical.

 

Who am I? My name is Sarah Bedi and I live in Luleå with the desire to participate with church planting efforts in the north! Attempting to share lessons I am learning along the way!