Archive for June, 2013

How Not to Make Disciples

Posted: June 26, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Discipleship, Mission
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One of the fears that I have in blogging about mission, holiness, the Bible, and discipleship is that I create a platform to think, write, and comment on these different categories but never do anything. I hope and pray that you and I take serious the commands of God given to us in His Word. All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. No one can override his commands. No one can choose to dismiss his command. No one should disobey His command.

“The God who created the world and sustains it by the power of His Word, has said ‘Go make disciples’. So I wont sit here and make excuses” – Francis Chan

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Have you ever seen a video of someone working out and wish you could lift as much as they did? Have you ever watched a clip of someone playing an instrument and wishing that you had the ability to play that smoothly? I have. To be honest, I do that a lot. I watch videos of Navy Seals, boxers, Dave Matthews, vocalist on various shows and they all make me wish I was more like them. Sometimes I am encouraged to be disciplined in areas that I am strong in. Most of the time I end up seeing all the ways that I come up short, especially when it comes to being a Christian.

I have seen people who read their Bible with intensity. They spend hours and hours reading, meditating, memorizing, preaching, teaching, cross-referencing, praying, and so on. I know people who have done amazing things for God. Men who love their wives and children in ways I don’t. I have been on the receiving end of generosity, hospitality, and servanthood. These are all gifts. Gifts for which I am to be thankful and moved by.

The problem is that I do compare myself, as do others whom I have counseled, when other Christians seem to accomplish more for God than I. They sacrifice more nights, they give away more money, and they travel to nations that don’t know Jesus.

I have to remind myself, and others, that Jesus has not commissioned me to be a omni-compotent ambassador for His Name. He has sent me on a mission to make, mature, and mobilize disciples of all nations. He has gifted me, set me in a context, and provided for me a specific way of carrying out that commission. It will look different for every other person in my small group, my Bible study, and church. We are all sent to different work places, neighborhoods, and have burdens for different nations.

Some have the capability to give lavishly, while others give generously within their budget. Some go long-term, while others go for short-term; some can only give and pray. Some have the houses to host a lot of people. Others see the positive effects of building deep with a few.

If you, like me, struggle with the constant comparison…you might want to consider this- God has made you to be uniquely equipped to reach your co-workers, city, and build the church. You have different capacities. You have different burdens. You have ideas that work for you that wouldn’t work for anyone else. In the words of J.D Greear, “Do what you do well to the glory of God. Do what you do well strategically for the mission of God.”

Our salvation does not hinge on our works. Jesus has earned our standing before God based on His obedience to fulfill the perfect requirements of God.  The motivation to see others come to faith should not be motivated by a desire to perform works that make us acceptable to God. Instead, they should be motivated by the work of Jesus, who accepts us as we are, and empowered by the Spirit who sent us. Jesus saves us. Jesus sends us. Jesus sanctifies. Jesus solely gets the glory. Let’s rest in His finished work alone.

“I urge you brother, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of

the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”
Romans 15:30

David Sitton is one of the guys that God has used to open my eyes and heart to the global need for missionaries. Before being an author and leader, David Sitton served in Papua New Guinea reaching indigenous people that had no gospel witness as a missionary for 32 years. He is now the president of To Every Tribe Ministries and is now mentoring the next generation of frontier missionaries. He recently wrote an article with helpful hints on how to pray effectively for missionaries and wanted to capture the prayer points here. If you know, support, or are a missionary, I would encourage you to pray, or ask to be prayed for in this way.

Spiritual Life:
…That we will take sufficient time to read, reflect and pray
…That we would be protected from dark forces in spiritual realms
…For our spiritual growth and personal renewal
…That we would be encouraged and experience joy in ministry
…That we will be men and women of integrity, reliability, humility, wisdom
and consistency
…That we would maintain a healthy sense of humor

Personal Life:
…That our marital relationships will remain strong
…That the social, emotional and spiritual needs of our children are cared for
…That our basic financial requirements are regularly met
…That we would be protected from physical sickness
…That we will find time for proper sleep, rest and exercise
…That we would be self-disciplined
…That we will experience God’s protection from accidents, crime, terrorists
and dangerous animals

Relationships:
…That we would experience harmonious relationships with other Christians
…That our team would experience unity, love, good communication and patience with one another
…That we would develop intimate friendships with our national brothers
and sisters
…That we will resist temptations toward jealousy, envy, bitterness and pride

Language Proficiency:

…That we would make steady progress in language studies
…That God would give us grace to adapt well to new cultures and customs
…That God would give us clarity, creativity and relevance in preaching
and teaching

Evangelism And Discipleship:
…That we would be fearless and bold to preach Christ and Him crucified
…That we would be lead by the Holy Spirit as to where we go
…That God would give us supernatural discernment and wisdom
…That God would begin preparing hearts in advance for the message
…That God will open a door for His message and that it would spread rapidly
…That God would establish His Church in new regions
…That disciples and church leaders would be fully trained
…That God would raise up national missionaries
…That God would be honored and praised through our ministry

Countries:
…Pray for those in government positions
…For religious freedom
…That we would have favor with government officials
…That we would be granted swift approval in our visa applications

“The one concern of the devil is to keep the saints from prayer.  He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion.  He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.”
~Jonathan Edwards

John Piper on Joy and Holiness

Posted: June 19, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Quotes, Reading
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I have recently been reading John Piper’s book, What Jesus Demands of the World, during my times with God in the morning to supplement my Bible reading. John Piper loves the gospels and makes connections that come from meditating on God’s Word and deep study. Here is a snippet of his chapter on joy.

“Jesus demand that we rejoice is the key that unlocks his demand for holiness. What chokes the purifying power of spiritual life and destroys Jesus’ would-be disciples is the ‘cares and riches and pleasures of life’ (Luke 8:14). And what severs theses strangling vines most decisively is the power of a superior pleasure. Jesus said that it is ‘in his joy’ that the believer sells everything. In other words, it is his joy that cuts the stranglehold of sin.

Many Christians think stoicism is a good antidote to sensuality. It isn’t. It is hopelessly weak and ineffective. Willpower religion usually fails, and even when it succeeds, it gets glory for the will, not for God. It produces legalist, not lovers. Jonathan Edwards says the powerlessness of this approach and said:

We come with double forces against the wicked, to persuade them to a godly life….The common argument is the profitableness of religion, but alas, the wicked man is not in pursuit of [moral] profit; tis’ pleasure he seeks. Now, then, we will fight with them with their own weapons.

In other words, the pursuit of pleasure in God is not a compromise with the sensual world but is in fact the only power that can defeat the lust of the age while producing lovers of God.”

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Posted: June 12, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Movies, Reading
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If you were not able to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I recommend you watch it. If you have not read The Hobbit by J.R Tolkien, I don’t know what you’re reading in the summer that can possibly beat such a classic. If you haven’t read fiction, or don’t like it, this is a great book to go to.

I don’t read fiction that often, and when my wife recommended The Hobbit, I wasn’t too excited. I hadn’t seen the Lord of The Rings trilogy either and when she introduced me to Middle Earth and all it had to offer, I was sold.

I read the Hobbit as fast as I could anticipating the movie…The only problem is, it’s coming out in three parts. Now, I don’t know how many of you are fans of the movie and how many of you have read the book and look forward to the visualization of what you’ve read. Six months isn’t a long time, but when you are waiting for a movie like this, it seems like a loooooong time.

I was waiting for 1 o’clock yesterday (for the preview release) as if I were waiting for the school bell to ring. Now, I wait the extended version of The Hobbit, the behind the scene vlog Peter Jackson makes, and Dec 13th like it’s nobodies business. Here is a preview to the Desolation of Smaug:

 

 

“The call to reach the nations that have migrated to our neighborhoods is not a call to neglect to send missionaries to Majority World countries where large numbers of unreached peoples exist. We have been told to go and must continue to do so, for the greatest needs for the gospel and church multiplication exist in the non-Western world. However, something is missionally malignant whenever we are willing to make great sacrifices to travel the world to reach a people group but are not willing to walk across the street. The church is foolish to think that it pleases the Lord when we travel to another country to reach a people when representatives of that people group fly past us over the Pacific and land in our airports to settle in our communities, but we make no effort to reach them. In view of this pressure point, the churches and mission agencies that are likely to thrive in the realm of missions are those who integrate their domestic and international strategies and stop operating from the long-standing model that consisted of silos separating the “domestic” and “foreign.” (69-70)  J.D Payne, Pressure Points: 12 Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church

  • Between 1990 and 2010, the more developed countries gained 45 million international immigrants, an increase of 55 percent.
  • Between 1990 and 2010, the migrant population of the less developed countries increased by 13 million (18 percent).
  • Between 2000 and 2010, nine countries gained over one million international migrants: United States (8 million), Spain (4.6 million), Italy (2.3 million), Saudi Arabia (2.2 million), United Kingdom (1.7 million), Canada (1.6 million), Syria (1.3 million), Jordan (1 million), and United Arab Emirates (1 million).
  • By 2010, immigrants comprised 22 percent of the population of Australia, 21.3 percent of Canada, 13.5 percent of the United States, and 10.4 percent of the United Kingdom.
  • The main nationalities granted British citizenship in 2008 were Indian (11,285), Pakistani (9,440), Iraqi (8,895), Somali (7,165), and Zimbabwean (5,710).
  • By 2017, one Canadian in five could be a visible minority race.

J.D also adds…

While it is easy to get lost in the numbers from across the globe, we must remember that each one represents someone created in the image of God in need of salvation or to serve on mission with Him. In light of the work of the Divine Maestro, the church must ask how she should respond in the age of migration. This pressure point creates many challenges and opportunities. Not only has the Lord told us to go into the entire world, but He is also bringing the world to our neighborhoods.

If you would like to read more about how to engage people that have migrated or immigrated to the U.S, I highly recommend you buying his book, Strangers Next Door.

Dispatches From the Front

Posted: June 9, 2013 by thoughtsfrommyshelf in Mission
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        If you haveDISPATCHES6n’t heardabout the DVD series, Dispatches From the Front, and are engaged in missions, lead a mission committee, or are seeking to mobilize missionaries…this is an incredible resource to have. This series takes you to areas of the world that are closed to traditional missionaries.  Every country in this DVD series is considered unreached (no church, or less than 2% of the population are Christian). That means, people are likely to be born, live life, and die without ever hearing of Jesus.

       What is great about these DVD’s is not only that you get to see what these places are like, but you get to hear stories of how the gospel is advancing. Jesus has commissioned all believers to make disciples of all nations. He sent His Holy Spirit to empower us to be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth. I believe this resource will only make your passionate prayers, generous givers, and global goers (short-term, mid-term, and long-term). If you want to see the gospel taken to the frontier lines of mission, I highly recommend this resource to you.

Here are some endorsements for the series:

Dispatches from the Front is a series of DVDs which show first-hand the work of missionaries and pastors in some of the tougher parts of the world. I have just watched the episode on Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. The low-key presentation enhances the drama and the beauty of the stories told. But be aware: this is sobering stuff. I came away ashamed of my own lack of zeal for the Lord’s work and my ingratitude to him for all of the material comforts I enjoy. This is not a celebration of the pyrotechnic entertainment of the American church; it is an account of genuine works of God. It will convict you of your own sin, drive you to Christ, and encourage you to pray for Christians working on the front lines of the Kingdom and to reassess your own priorities wherever you are. ”
—Carl Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History and Paul Woolley Chair of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary

“Beware of watching these Dispatches if you don’t like being moved and inspired and shaken out of the ruts of your life. My wife and I were riveted in watching the frontline reports of God’s work recorded in the Dispatches from the Front. This is the sort of information that builds faith in the present providence of God over his mission, and stirs up action for the sake of lost and hurting people near and far. I would love to see thousands of people mobilized as senders and goers for the sake of the glory of Christ and the relief of suffering on the frontiers, especially eternal suffering.”
—John Piper, author of Desiring God; Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis

Dispatches from the Front is a thoughtful, moving, understated, and ultimately convicting series of videos depicting the work of the gospel in some of the most challenging corners of the world. Far from glorying in celebrity missions, the stories in these videos depict the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes in the teeth of virulent opposition. Here are brothers and sisters in Christ who in God’s grace display faithfulness and transcendent joy, unflagging zeal to share the gospel, and an unfettered allegiance to King Jesus. To watch the kingdom advance in the teeth of these challenges is to learn humility and rekindle contrition, faith, and intercessory prayer.”
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; President and Co-founder, The Gospel Coalition

“I want, and I want my kids to have, a heart for world missions. These videos stir that passion. . . . I would highly recommend this series.”
—Joshua Harris, Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, MD

Dispatches from the Front is a fascinating look at how the gospel is penetrating some of the world’s neediest places. These are regions where all the worst agonies of human life are multiplied and magnified relentlessly by war, extreme poverty, sex trafficking, drug dealing, false religion, and disease. . . . But your spirit will be encouraged by the triumphant power of Christ. ”
—Phil Johnson, Executive Director, Grace to You

“Who knows what might happen if churches and small groups and families were to watch these videos together, open to God’s leading for going and sending? It is a risk to watch them. But the motivation is Gospel grace, not guilt. I cannot recommend too highly these DVDs. ”
—Justin Taylor, Between Two Worlds

“Are you afraid to open your eyes and see death and destruction in the world? Dispatches from the Front will open your eyes to the great needs of the lost, enflame your heart to go to the nations, and give you the courage to carry on the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God. This is a bold call to action. ”
—Burk Parsons, pastor, author, and editor of Tabletalk magazine

Dispatches offers a potent reminder that in the darkest places, the gospel shines brightest. It should come with a warning label. Danger: Graphic scenes of mission reality that will disrupt your comfort and ignite your heart for God’s work on the frontlines. Pray, watch and act! ”
—Dave Harvey, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Church Planting & Missiology