GO FOR SOULS

Teach - Equip - Empower

Welcome

Welcome to the all new GO FOR SOULS website. More content will be added soon. In the mean time check out some of the recent articles below or follow this link to the Happy, Saved and Free Blog.

The Call For Decision

Have you ever read about the drunks kneeling down at the mercy seat and getting up sober never to touch the drink again? Have you heard about the drug addicts who are freed in a moment by Jesus Christ? What about those who were once trapped in depression but got completely freed because they have come to understand and believe that Jesus loves them and accepts them? I know I have.

Jesus not only wants us to go to heaven but He wants us to be freed here on Earth. In fact He taught us to pray that His Kingdom would come, and that His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven! How good is that? Do you think people will be addicted in Heaven? Mentally ill in heaven? Sick in Heaven? Sad, bitter and twisted in Heaven? No way! In fact Revelation 21 says, “”Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” So, when Jesus says His will be done on Earth as it is in heaven what do you think that means?

It means Heaven on Earth.

This has massive implications for evangelism. Many evangelists have been torn to shreds in the past few decades because they “push for a decision.” In turn many have thought this was because of some peoples emphasis on “the prayer.” You know the one that you get saved by, the one that if you pray you go to Heaven? But this is an unfair objection to bring up against evangelists in general.

The evangelists I know have other motivations other than notches on a belt. And you may be surprised that some of these are to do with the here and now.

Firstly we would be unkind and evil if we allowed people to go to hell without a fight. The Bible is super clear that 1) Hell is real and 2) People need to repent and believe if they don’t want to go there. Calling for a decision so they don’t go to hell is compassionate and more than reasonable. Full Stop.

However, as an evangelist I push for a decision for another reason as well. My motivation comes because I know the difference God can make in ones life right now. In fact, the more I lead people to Christ the more my faith builds that when a person repents and believes Jesus will actually make them a new person! (Hmm, didn’t I read that in the Bible somewhere?) He will change their heart on the spot! I’ve seen it way too many times for it to be untrue.

I’ve seen people who have never heard of Jesus let alone read the Bible start quoting Scripture to me once we have prayed together. I have seen people healed, I have seen people set free, all because they have made a decision to follow Jesus and accept His forgiveness.

However, if an evangelist claims they have lead someone to Christ many people will quickly dismiss this conversion and quickly call for discipleship. Some seem to have no place for celebration in between Salvation and Christian maturity. This is completely different to Jesus’ teaching that at repentance Heaven explodes into a party! (Check out Luke 15) Of course there is discipleship to come, but conversion is a real and special event. In fact, by moving salvation from conversion to maturity and a good death we are actually moving Salvation from something we experience now to a future event that we can only be sure of once we die.

For some the assurance of Salvation comes only once we are a good disciple, after reading the Bible and believing what other people tell us, then being involved in some sort of ministry. But true assurance of Salvation comes from the Holy Spirit and can be experienced at conversion! We cannot diminish the assurance of salvation just because we may not know what their discipleship will or will not look like.

Of course discipleship is important and necessary too. Paul says, “It is for freedom that you have been set free!” Jackie Pullinger speaks about addicts being set free by the baptism in the Holy Spirit. But she quickly learnt that even though the drug lost its grip the newly freed people had to learn to live in their freedom. Discipleship is teaching people how to live in the freedom that they now have. It is for freedom that we have been set free.

This means that before people can live in freedom they need to be freed. So how do we do that? At the end of the gospel of Mark Jesus promises us that He will confirm His message with signs and wonders. If we preach Jesus heals, God will confirm this message by healing. If we preach that Jesus Frees, then God will confirm His message by freeing those in bondage. If we preach that Jesus saves than God will confirm His message by saving people!

Therefore if we have a compassionate bone in our body and believe that Jesus will confirm His message like this then we will not be able to help but preach for decision. We will be so aware of the goodness of God that we will want everyone to experience it right now.

Therefore, as the people of God, we all need to remember that a passionate call for decision is necessary. It is necessary because we don’t want people to go to hell, and we don’t want people to be trapped in bondage and living in sickness while here on Earth. The reason we preach for decision is because we believe Jesus will set people free now so that they can live a life of freedom.

A Burning Passion

Apathy and Evangelism

I was recently at leadership training course for planting reproducing churches and we were lead by a leader in the Chinese house church movement. He was asked, “Do you think that the church in the West has lost its passion for souls?” He replied, “How many people have you lead to Christ recently?” Statistics suggest that only 5% of Christians are actively involved in evangelism and this means that people are not hearing the gospel. We have lost our burning passion for the lost.

We read in Romans 10, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

If we are really interested in “Seeing Kingdom Come!” then we must preach the gospel! Sadly our Christianity often seems more like the opposite and is apologetic for what we believe to be the truth. We have become apathetic in soul saving endeavours and we need to rekindle this burning passion to see the lost saved!

The Apostle Paul

When I think of a burning passion to see the lost saved I immediately think of the Apostle Paul. This Paul who was once passionate for preventing the gospel from being spread met Jesus and His life was transformed. As Paul gave his life to Christ he quickly became zealous for the gospel. In fact he would call himself a fool for the gospel! He said he would become all things to all people to save some!

“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel,” and “For Christ’s love compels us!” As we survey the life of Paul we see that he was tortured and abused, despised and rejected, and still he kept preaching the gospel. His cry of “Woe to me!” shows us that his heart was bursting with Gods love; he wanted everyone to know that they could be reconciled to God and so his actions matched this. He never gave up preaching even when in jail, he was motivated by the love of God.

The Father’s heart

We can see this love in God the Father. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life!” Could you imagine a person giving up their only son? Sometimes it is easy for us to gloss over this important fact that shows us the burning passion to see people saved.

This passion is so intense that God does not want any to perish but all to come to repentance, He wants all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth, He is the good Shepherd who counts His sheep and notices when just one is missing! God wants all to be saved and He sacrificed His son to show it! This is the heart of God: Love for all!

We see in these examples how love compels people to go above and beyond what we would normally see as normal. We see that this heart for the lost compels us to preach, to do and become anything to see people saved! There is a burning passion to see every single person saved!

How to cultivate a burden for the lost

So how do we get this heart for the lost? How do we too have this burning heart for the lost, this passion to see the whole entire world saved?

Holiness of Heart

An Old Salvation Army Holiness teacher named Samuel Brengle taught, “Holiness increases this desire, and makes it burn with a quenchless flame. The zeal of other people blazes up, burns low, and often dies out, but the zeal of a man with a clean heart, full of the Holy Ghost, increases year by year. Others run away from the prayer-meeting, but he holds on. Others do not grieve if souls are not saved, but he feels that he must see souls saved, or die.”

The Salvation Army was such an aggressive soul saving movement because it was compelled by the love of God. Stories abound of Salvationists like Railton, Cadman, Booth-Tucker, Joe the Turk and many others who worked hard, preached often and creatively engaged thousands of people that they might save some. It is not by chance that many revivals around the world, and especially The Salvation Army, have had a holiness doctrine, because holiness compels people to evangelise!

They had a burning passion to preach the gospel because they wanted everyone to be saved! They genuinely loved people and wanted them to know God. This love comes from God, and when we allow God to take away all our sin, and then fill us with His love we too can have this burning passion to see other saved!

Heed the call to evangelise

Another way we can cultivate our passion for the lost is to start with obedience. If we search the Scriptures we will see that God has called us to, commanded us to, and compelled us to preach the gospel. At the beginning of Jesus ministry He called the fishermen to come fishing for people with Him, then just before Jesus ascended into Heaven He commanded us all to preach the gospel to all the world! Jesus commands us to evangelise, and we must obey!

William Booth said, “We are a salvation people – this is our speciality – getting saved and keeping saved, and then getting somebody else saved, and then getting saved ourselves more and more until full salvation on earth makes the heaven within.” If we embrace our calling to be a holiness – evangelism movement then we will see revival! We need to embrace our calling and the commands that God has given us to preach the gospel to every nation!

Hate Hell

Another interesting defining aspect of a burning passion for souls comes from our hate of hell. Many evangelists will talk about how hell frightens them and motivates them to preach the gospel! Florence Booth speaks of this, “When Officers show a lack of power for aggressive work, I am convinced that their hearts are not deeply moved over the condition of sinners.”

Booth continues to teach that we must not only believe in our heads our doctrine of hell we must believe it in our heart. She says that conviction is when a truth is firmly planted in our heart, and if the doctrine of hell is planted in our heart we will be much more aggressive in our evangelism, and not only that but our evangelism will be more compelling to the sinner to be saved!

Conclusion

God loves every person in the world and wants them to be saved! Imagine if every believer had this burning passion for the lost! Imagine if our hearts were moved by the plight of the unsaved drifting off into hell. Imagine the passion which we would preach with, imagine the love we would care with, imagine the zeal we would pray with, imagine the methods we would use, imagine how powerful our message would be!

Do you have a burning passion for the lost?

The Motivating Disaster

The Motivating Disaster 

A young boy is playing with a ball. The ball rolls onto a busy road, the boy follows it, grabs it and sits down on the road and starts playing with it. You walk by and see that a disaster is about to take place. A car is speeding towards him. Do you run on to the road, grab the boy, and take him to safety? Or do you worry about the politically correct thing to do? You don’t know the boy, so you have a quick look. You notice that there are no parents around. Not wanting to go to prison or be sued for a misunderstanding, you ignore the problem. You go home and whinge about it to your friends and family about how parents suck these days…

What if you, a good swimmer, is swimming in the pool and you see an old lady drowning. Do you grab her and pull her to safety or do you say to yourself, “She’s not my age, I won’t be able to connect with her.” You then wait for someone else her age to save her so that she doesn’t freak out when she’s being saved.

A family is asleep in a burning house unaware of the disaster that awaits them. You walk by, do you scream to tell them to wake up? Do you rush in, do what you can, call the firemen? Or do you respect the peaceful and quiet neighborhood, not wake people up from their beauty sleep and say to yourself, “I’ll just come back in the morning when they’re awake.”

How about this. There is a virus that is affecting your nation. No one knows how to cure it, but you find a cure. Do you try to distribute it to everyone you know as quickly as you can. Or do you keep it for yourself and for your family not wanting to give it to others because they may not like the taste of it, and they’re all strangers to you?

As we read the above scenarios we can easily see what the right thing to do is. If disaster is coming you need to warn people. We cross certain barriers that would normally prevent us from interacting with certain people. But at the end of the day the disaster is more dangerous than the alternatives. As we use these analogies for gospel sharing we will see that we need to Die to ourselves, Disregard Differences, Disturb the Peace and Distribute to all.

Disaster

In the above we read of disasters that cause us to do more than what we would normally do. We sum up in our minds, whether their fate is more important than the consequences of our involvement. We would have no problem protecting a child, rescuing a lady, yelling at a house, calling the fire brigade, or shamelessly promoting a product if it meant lives were saved. In the same way we need to realise that our evangelistic efforts are of extreme importance for both the immediate and for the eternal.

Whether it is addiction, depression, hopelessness, rejection, or fear all people need Jesus right now. The disaster that awaits those who do not know Christ are horrific.  Hell is not a place we should want anyone to stay in or spend eternity in. We would do well to realise that the disaster of hell is a lot worse than any excuse not to share the Good News of Jesus…

Die to self

The dilemma in the first analogy is the potential hazard of doing, being seen or being charged with doing something politically incorrect. In gospel sharing we can do this too. Instead of proclaiming the grace and truth of Jesus we can water it down not wanting to say anything to anyone that would make them blush. Instead we choose to cover our backsides. The disaster we are more afraid of is the disaster that could harm ourselves. To put it simply, we choose our own safety over others. Hardly a Christlike character.

What is needed is for men and women, boys and girls to die to themselves. To give their lives up for other peoples safety. Are you willing to make other peoples eternal safety more important than your temporal safety? Jesus did, and He calls us to follow in His footsteps.

Disregard Differences 

The swimmer who would not save the elderly person was worried about the age difference. This too is common in evangelism. We decide not to preach the gospel of love and salvation to certain people because they are different to us. We don’t mix with those sorts of people, or even the more “holy” cop out, “They’re not like us, they wouldn’t want to talk about Jesus!”

The problem here is that we fail to realise that all people are bound for hell unless they call upon the Savior. We are all the same. We need to disregard our differences, focus on our similarities, and major on priority. That is, that Jesus Christ loves them, is desperate for their relationship, and wants to save them.

Disturb the Peace

No one wants to disturb a peaceful and quiet neighborhood. People have their own lives, they are going about their everyday business. “We shouldn’t disturb them.” We don’t want to get up in their face and change the subject. We don’t want to be rude. We will wait for them… Thats a very common modern evangelism approach. We wait for them. We are more worried about keeping the peace, the status quo so to speak than other peoples salvation.

However, this does not take into account the impending danger. The disaster that awaits is more than a good enough reason to disturb people, for if we don’t they will be a lot more disturbed in an eternal hell than what they are in the present. For the unsaved this is as close to heaven as they will ever experience and the furthest from hell they will ever be. We must disturb the peace, peoples eternity is at stake – not to mention the living hell they go through each day without the love and peace of God!

Distribute to All

Have you ever thought bout Christ’s words to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all Creation? In Romans 10 we are asked some pretty simple questions; “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” The simple fact of the matter is that unless we share the gospel they are not going to hear it.

Often we decide who we will and won’t share the gospel with depending on what we think they will say or do. We prefer to keep the status quo in our relationship, and hope that one day they will make it painfully obvious that they want to hear the gospel from us. However life is fragile, and circumstances change, there is no certainty that that day will ever come. Instead we need to change our thinking from “Who wants to hear the gospel?” to “How can I share the gospel?”

All people need to hear the gospel. We need to share the gospel with as many people as we possibly can! It sounds like a big job doesn’t it? But what is we simply started with those in front of us? What if we started taking some opportunities that we are faced with every day? What if we started praying for those in our life that don’t know Jesus yet? What if we shared our story with them, or shared stories from the Word that we think would encourage them? What if we stopped for the one and asked God, “What does love look like today?”

Wrapping Up

It would be too easy to say that we simply share the gospel exactly the same in every context though. In each of the above analogies the method of saving was different.  The same can be said for evangelism, different people will respond to different things in different ways. However, we must never fall into the self serving traps of political correctness, allowing differences to hinder, wanting peace and quiet instead of heaven, or preferring relationship over the mandate for all the world. The impending disaster must take precedent over our petty excuses! We must be ready to die to ourselves, disregard differences, disturb the peace and distribute the gospel to all people!

The Key to Unlocking Cities – People of Peace

The other day we went to the Dandenong shops to share the good news of Jesus with the community. We walked around the shopping center and stopped to talk to a number of people. I was completely amazed at who we bumped in to…

The first people I spoke to were from India.

Then we spoke to some true blue Aussies!

Then I had a great conversation with a man from East Timor.

Then Sarah had a conversation with a lady from Mauritius.

As I walked around and saw the thousands of people from around 150 different nationalities I began to cry out to the Lord. “How will we ever reach all these people?” Straight away I sensed the Lord bringing me back to the game plan that Jesus modeled and then gave to His disciples in Luke 10 and Matthew 10.

Jesus would search for a person or house of peace. These are people prepared by God, responsive to the Gospel, and open up relational networks to the gospel. For example the woman at the well shared with her village that she had found the Messiah, and the Gadarene demoniac who was sent back to his people to share his story…

Our job is not to lead all 146,000 people in Greater Dandenong to Jesus by ourselves. Rather it is to lead people to Jesus who will. We must pray for these People of Peace, they are the key to unlocking cities to the gospel!

This post was first published as The Thompsons Newsletter. Click here to read it.
To sign up to The Thompsons newsletter Click here.

 

A Big Vision

I love the story recorded in Acts 19 when Paul goes to Ephesus. He lays hands on some believers, they get baptised in the Holy Ghost, he disciples them by teaching about the Kingdom of God, he demonstrates the Kingdom of God with unbelievable signs and wonders, and within two years all of Asia hears the gospel! He made disciples that made dsciples.

That is the vision!

The Thompson family has moved to Dandenong, a city with over 150 different nationalities. [pullquote position=”right”]We’re beliving that the people we lead to the Lord and disciple, will take the message of Jesus all around the world.[/pullquote] We’re going to make disciples that make disciples. We are perfectly positioned in this area to impact the world.

This has happened before, even in our ministry…

When at Plenty Valley we saw Youth taking the gospel to their schools and forming Bible Study Groups. One guy led around 12 people to Jesus in his first 6 months of following Jesus. Another girl started praying for healing at school and saw a bunch of people saved.

When at Training College I spent some time sharing the gospel on the streets and becasue we (Monty, Mera, and the Team) had so many giving their lives to the Lord we ended up planting the All Nations Fellowship.

When in Ararat a youth in her first year of High School led around 20 to the Lord, 12 of them were committed disciples. They would pray, worship, read the word, help others, see miracles etc at their school. Without realising it they planted a church at School. Another youth had a healing ministry at Primary School where he would wait out the front of sick bay and pray for the sick before they saw the doctor!

While training in Werribee last year a Chinese woman led her family (who live in China) to the Lord over the phone, and are in the process of working out what church means to them. Another guy is about to plant a Farsi church with the 15 Persians he has led to Jesus!

As you can see, this is not about how much Sarah and I can do. It is about the goodness of God infecting people so that they share Jesus with their friends and family. But instead of just stopping there, we’re going to train these believers to train their disciples and so on and so on.

This is all about making disciples that make disciples. Lets the good times roll!

The Thompsons Update

Wow! A lot has happened since I last blogged!

Firstly, Stacey Jane Thompson was born! We are super blessed to have her in our family. She is beautiful, sleeping well and very content. She is going to change the world, just watch 😉 Click here to see some photos of her!

We also moved house to Endeavour Hills, a suburb right near Dandenong. This house is a miracle as we didn’t have a rental history or a solid income. To add to this all the other homes we were looking at were all more expensive, and had heaps of people looking at them. This one we were the only ones that showed up to look, and the house is nicer, bigger, and cheaper! We applied and within 4 hours we were approved! Already we’ve had lots of people over for a meal, some staying for a few days. It is a great house for ministry. We’re pretty excited about living here.

Then last week we were in The Blue Mountains in NSW for a MOVE conference. We met with a whole bunch of CPM (Church Planting Movement) practitioners and leaders. We’ve come back full of purpose, vision and faith that we’re going to see God do some amazing stuff here in Australia!

I’m going to keep up the blogging now, so keep an eye out for for all the awesome posts I’m going to pump out! Bless yous all!

The Thompsons Update

Thompsons Update from James Thompson on Vimeo.

Holding the Promise & Facing the Wrong Way

What would it have been like if Abraham had become a Nation on the following day? Or if the Hebrews didn’t spend 40 days in the wilderness? Or if Once Joseph had his dream he immediately became ruler? Or if the disciples didn’t wait for the promised Holy Spirit?

I have a tendency that as soon as I hear something that I believe is from God I act upon it. Sarah and I heard extremely clearly “Thailand” from God. Immediately we began making plans to get there. But every time we tried to follow our plan, something popped up. This became really discouraging and disappointing when we moved to Thailand in faith, with no money expecting God to come through and He didn’t. It became more disappointing when we were raising support to move to Thailand and all of a sudden our leaders, friends and mentors, and later Holy Spirit led us to stay in Melbourne for the time being.

The fact is, all throughout Scripture, God gives the dream. He gives the promise, the prophecy, the word. But then it can be years before the fulfilment.

This is what I’ve been learning…

[pullquote position=”right”]When we receive a word we need to test it. But then it will test us.[/pullquote]

Just like the examples above, Abraham, The Hebrews, Joseph, and even the Disciples, all had a word from God. There were times when they tested the word. “Is that really you God?” Does it line up with Scripture? Does it sound like the Loving Father? Is it truth? But then once we think we believe, the word will test us. “Will you still believe if you’re turned around and facing in the wrong direction?”

I take great comfort from Joseph who had a dream that he’d be a ruler, only to find himself as a slave and in prison. Every time he must have thought he was moving closer to Gods plan something seemingly worse than before happened. But God did have a plan, and God used those times to his benefit, and they were excellent preparation for the dream coming to pass. Those times formed him into the man that could walk in the promise.

For me, I still struggle from time to time about how and when I’m going to get to my dream. I want to jump ahead, I want to walk into that dream right now. But I know that if I remain faithful, if I stay close to Jesus, if I keep my eyes on The Lord, then God will use this time for my benefit, even if I don’t see it right now. At the moment I do see the benefit of staying in Melbourne and ministering in the Dandenong area. I see how it is preparing me for a lifetime of fatherhood, evangelism, outreach, training, disciple making, church planting and movement pioneering! Sometimes I feel like I’m facing the wrong way, but I ask God for grace to get me through, and He does. His very presence is what sustains me.

Perhaps you are in a similar place. Maybe you have tested the word/dream/promise and now it’s testing you. Stay close to Jesus. Seek His face. Ask for grace. Remain faithful. You might just be in the right place after all!

365 Days of Gospel Shots

Jesus is AMAZING! When we read through the Bible we see that Jesus was accepting, a healer, cast demons out of people, raised the dead, wlked on water, calmed storms, taught with authority, stood up against injustice, did not conform to the patterns of the world that were evil, loved all people regardless of who they were or what they did, and challenged all people to love and care for others. We also see that He died, then three days later came back to life! Jesus is AMAZING!

Jesus is alive and it is possible to know Him today. It is amazing to hear His voice, to sense His presence, to know His peace! Jesus still heals, sets the captives free, raises the dead, accepts people, loves people and calls for us to care for one another. Jesus is AMAZING!

So, becasue Jesus is AMAZING, it is only natural for us to want the whole world to know Him like we do. One easy way to do that is to take up the “365 Days of Gospel Shots Challenge.” This is a simple way we can share the good news of Jesus online.

You simply share a short gospel message every day of 2014. Then hashtag:  #365daysofgospelshots.  Here are a couple of examples that may help to get you going…

“Jesus is AMAZING! He loves you and wants you to know Him. Let me know if you would like to know more. #365daysofgospelshots

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!” Have you called on the name of Jesus? He wants to save you! Let me know if you want to know how. #365daysofgospelshots

“Are you worn out? Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” Turn to Jesus today and He will give you rest! Personal Message me if you want some help in turning to Him today! #365daysofgospelshots

It’s not too late to start! Lets share the good news that Jesus is AMAZING!

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