Wednesday, April 08, 2015

WHY God loves you...

God loves us not because of who we are but because of who He is.

You might want to re-read that again. S l o w l y this time.

So the question is not, "Does God love you?" The question is, "Do you REALLY believe God loves you—based on who He is—not who you are?"

How would really believing this truth change your everyday life? 

This, in part, explains why we have so much trouble loving others. Think about it. If we really don't believe God loves us, how can we ever love others? Perhaps one major reason we don't share God's love with others is because we're really not convinced of God's love ourselves. So it's true: "We love [God and others] because he loved us first" (1 John 4:19).

Ponder what it might look like for you to live all of life in light of the understanding that God loves you not because of who you are but because of who He is.

Here's a thought.

I challenge YOU to pray the Apostle Paul's prayer in Ephesians chapter 3 right now...
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

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Monday, April 06, 2015

Monday Sunday: 1 down, 6 to go

It's official: We married off our oldest daughter, Emily, to Billy Hearn. Yep. I have another son named Billy now.

It all went down in AZ. That's why we thank God for our family vehicle—a 15 passenger van!

Appreciate your prayers for the newly wed couple as they begin their marriage adventure. And any prayers for us as parents are sincerely appreciated too.

One down, six to go. (We're in no hurry.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Texas Training Adventure

We are YOUR disciplemaking missionaries, and this is the pictorial story of our Texas training adventure! (Click any image below to enlarge for viewing.)
It turns out that not only is Texas HUGE, but it's also very delicious. Who knew, right?

Our first stop in Texas was in Dallas where we reconnected with longtime friends, Sam and Charlotte Fithian. These friends go all the way back to Streator, IL, with us. Since they retired about 30 years ago, they've served with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Dallas. They've been married 66 years. We love and respect these disciplemaking friends deeply.

Our next stop was to visit our dear friends, the Prescotts, who recently moved to TX from IL. 

When in Texas....

We spent the first few days encouraging and equipping youth leaders from all over Texas at Camp Tejas near Austin. Together we explored what it means to be a disciple who makes disciples who make more disciples.
We explored the disciplemaking genius of Jesus together and sought to apply what we learned to our lives and ministries. 

Then we moved on to Grace Bible Church in Laredo, TX. We stayed with Tim and Cristina Rowley's house. Tim is the youth pastor at Grace.

Tim and Cristina have a turtle named Tom. Someone painted his shell. He's a hippy turtle.

Over three days together, we walked through all five session of Cadre's Evangelism Is Relationships training experience with about 100 students and 25 volunteer youth leaders!

For processing and applying the training, youth leaders and students gathered together in small groups before, during, and after the training. We think of this as disciplemaking.

Each person received a 28 page training manual and 25 day follow-through living guide for continued application after the training experience.

Even our 13-year-old Sadey joined a group a group of junior high students for the training!

When you pray for us, God does amazing things. A number of students indicated that they trusted Christ as Savior while at this training! If you're the praying type, we'd love for your to join our email prayer team. If you're willing to pray for us, email me and we'll keep you up-to-date.

"Now that I am old and gray... Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me." —Psalm 71:18

"...older women must train the younger women..." —Titus 2:4

"In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind." —Titus 2:6-7

Cadre training experiences are about 50% training and 50% small group interaction, wrestling the Scripture together, and application. We believe life transformation happens best in disciplemaking learning communities likes these.

It's hard to explain, but these students in Laredo are very special to us! This is our second year with them. We love them even more now.

In the middle of all this fun, Ivy was able to work in a game of Twister.

Stop and consider how your prayer and financial partnership are being multiplied through disciplemaking for God's glory!

We're giving our lives to making disciplemakers—like Jesus did. We couldn't even think of doing this without friends like you.

You make our ministry with Cadre possible AND powerful by your prayer and financial support. THANK YOU!
Only Heaven will fully reveal exactly how God used you through Cadre to make an eternal difference.

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." —Hebrews 6:10

It was an Epic time together in TX!

Can you say, "Group picture"? So. Much. Fun.

One last stop for lunch with our dear friends, the Roses, who recently moved from IL to the Houston area. It was a great reunion filled with friendship, coffee, and chocolate which = LOVE.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Making an eternal difference: Step #1

"Evangelism doesn't start when we talk to people about God but when we talk to God about people." 
—Hudson Taylor

For training that starts with prayer, go here.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We're YOUR Disciplemaking Missionaries! We Thank God and Thank You!

We thank God and you for being the wind in our sails as disciplemaking missionaries with Cadre Ministries. As you read our update below, please take a moment to thank God with us. The best way to view this is to go here. Or you can click any image below to enlarge for reading. Thank YOU for stopping by Cup O' Joe with Bill. You make our day.
Will you please pray for us? We are disciplemaking missionaries with Cadre MinistriesWe need you. About 2-3 times a month, I'd like to send you a short email with details about how you can say a quick prayer for us. If you are willing to say a quick prayer for us 2-3 times a month, please email me and put "prayer team" in the subject line. I'd be glad to pray for you too. THANKS!
We need you. We couldn't take any of part of this Jesus-like disciplemaking adventure without people like you who love us, pray for us, and give $ to Cadre. We need you. You make our ministry powerful and possible. Every expression of partnership breathes life into our souls… and enables us to do the same for many others! For more information about how you can partner with God, the Allisons, and Cadre Ministries, go here. To make a secure online tax-deductible donation, go here.  Cadre Ministries is a recognized 501(c)3 ministry.

For up-to-date ways you can pray for us, go here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Putting the OTHER back into the one anOTHERs

In an amazing experiment, scientists set out to test an animal’s survival instincts. The scientists dropped a rat into a large jar of water that had been placed in complete darkness. They wanted to see how long the animal would continue to swim before it finally gave up and allowed itself to drown. What did they find? They found that the rat usually lasted little more than three minutes in complete darkness.

Then the scientists dropped another rat into the same kind of water-filled jar, but instead of putting it in total darkness, they allowed one tiny ray of light to shine onto the jar. Under those conditions, the rat kept swimming for thirty-six hours. That’s over seven hundred times longer! It seems that because the animal had a ray of hope, it continued to swim.

Don't miss the point...
God wants YOU to be that ray of hope and light to the people “swimming” in your sphere of influence in your everyday life—at work, home, school, church, and your neighborhood.

But where do you start?

You start with Cadre’s newly updated, revised, and expanded One Another Living Guide.

God's handbook on relationships is the Bible. The One Another Living Guide is your journey through twenty-five life-changing "one another" verses from the Bible. (For example: love one another, pray for one another, bear one another's burdens, etc.) It's a pocket-sized booklet of biblical challenges that help you and your friends inflow the love of God into your lives--and then helps you overflow God's love into your everyday relationships in practical ways. Each "one another" study challenges you to express God's love to others using one of five love languages--time, touch, tell, to-do, or treasure. This One Another Living Guide is perfect for families, small groups, discipleship groups, Sunday school classes, elder’s meetings, staff meetings, disciplemaking learning communities, mission trip teams, and improving your marriage. What might God be able to do in your daily relationships if you dared to put the other back into the One Anothers? I dare you to find out.

To view sample pages or to order, go here.

For a limited time, we are offering a Haver-with-Friends Sale! Use coupon code: oneanother and save 20% on the One Another Living Guide. Here's something really crazy: For a limited time, the same coupon code (oneanother) will also give 20% off the Disciplemaker's Journal and the John 3:16 Living Guide. It's my way of saying 'Thank you" for being a Cup O' Joe with Bill reader! Better act now. This will not last long.

If you host Cadre's Ministry Is Relationships training experience, each person receives the newly updated, revised, and expanded One Another Living Guide as a part of the training materials. Go here for more information about bringing a Ministry Is Relationships training experience to your ministry.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Before you drop the H-bomb ("heretic"): Fighting the right battles with the right spirit

I was walking in San Francisco along the Golden Gate Bridge when I saw a man about to jump off. I tried to dissuade him from committing suicide and told him simply that God loved him. A tear came to his eye. I then asked him, “Are you a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, or what?”

He said, “I’m a Christian.”

I said, “Me, too, small world. Protestant or Catholic?”

He said, “Protestant.”

I said, “Me, too, what denomination?”

He said, “Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too, Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Baptist.”

I said, “Well, ME TOO. Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”

I said, “Well, that’s amazing! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist or Northern Conservative Reformed Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist.”

I said, “Remarkable! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Eastern Region?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region.”

I said, “A miracle! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”

I said, “DIE HERETIC!" and pushed him over the rail.

Yeah. It's funny. But it also makes a very good point.

Is someone really a "heretic" simply because he/she has a different view than you on some of the finer points of theology?

In this regard, I hear and see the word "heretic" abused more and more these days.

So before you gratuitously drop an H-bomb ("heretic") on someone, consider this saying that goes back at least 400 years...

In essentials, unity.

In nonessentials, liberty.

In all things, charity.

Of course, now the question is:
What are the essentials?

That's a worthwhile discussion.

I hope you and your friends dare to engage that question.

And if you find that you need Bibles, that's a good thing.

Invite your pastor/elders/small group leader to that discussion.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What's Your Title?

So unsexy, ain't it?

Ah, but so like Jesus.

Here's more to ponder if you're so inclined...
The modern array of ecclesiastical titles accompanying the names of Christian leaders ["reverend" "pastor"] is completely missing from the New Testament and would have appalled the apostles and early believers. Although both the Greeks and Jews employed a wealth of titles for their political and religious leaders in order to express their power and authority, the early Christians avoided such titles. The early Christians used common and functional terms to describe themselves and their relationships. Some of these terms are "brother," "beloved," "fellow-worker," "laborer," "slave," "servant," "prisoner," "fellow-soldier," and "steward."

Of course there were prophets, teachers, apostles, evangelists, leaders, elders, and deacons within the first churches, but these terms were not used as formal titles for individuals. All Christians are saints, but there was no "Saint John." All are priests, but there was no "Priest Phillip." Some are elders, but there was no "Elder Paul." Some are overseers, but there was no "Overseer John." Some are pastors, but there was no "Pastor James." Some are deacons, but there was no "Deacon Peter." Some are apostles, but there was no "Aposle Andrew."

Rather than gaining honor through titles and position, New Testament believers received honor primarily for their service and work [their way of life—see Romans 16:1-16, 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Corinthians 16:15-18; Philippians 2:29-30; and others]. The early Christians referred to each other by personal names (Timothy, Paul, Titus), the terms "brother" or "sister," or by describing an individual's spiritual character or work:
* Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5);
* Barnabas, a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith (Acts 11:24);
* Phillip the evangelist Acts 21:8);
* Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus (Romans 16:3);
* Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you (Romans 16:6).

—Taken from Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch (page 302)

Real power and authority doesn't come from a position or title. It comes from Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20) and learning to live all of life like Jesus (1 John 2:6).

What would it look like for you to live and lead like Jesus—as a servant?