the gospel without borders

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Gospel and missions, which go together like macaroni and cheese. The gospel is simultaneously at work in us and through us. Inwardly, our desires and motives are being changed as we repent and believe the gospel. As we are moved by Christ’s love in this way, we are compelled to outwardly engage those around us with the same kind of redemptive love. The gospel is active, it’s on a mission, in us and through us.

In Romans 1:8-17, we see Paul’s motivation for gospel ministry. Missionary ministry. Paul is fired up about the global scope of the gospel because God’s fired up about it. This is what I talk about when I speak of missions: “Missions is the activity of God’s people partnering with God’s mission.” Let’s see how this is made practical in Romans 1.

1. THE GOSPEL MISSION BEGINS WITH YOU, THE CHURCH (8-13)

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” (v.8)

Who’s the “you” Paul refers to when he says, “I thank my God for all of you”? He’s referring to the Christians in Rome. Although this letter was first to the Christians in Rome, it is also a letter for you. This letter is a gift from God to the church of every generation.

Why is Paul thankful for them? They are spreading their faith to all the world. They are not just expanding their facilities (or home churches); they were expanding the fame of Jesus’ name to the nations.

1.1 THE GOSPEL MISSION THROUGH THE CHURCH IS BIRTHED THROUGH PRAYER (9-11)

“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.”

Like most letters, including Romans, Paul begins by sharing how he is praying for that church. I love reading Paul’s prayers. He loves the church. He constantly prays for them. He pleads with God to be with them. What Paul understands is that mighty movements of God are birthed through prayer. It’s not about Paul or His mission. It’s about His God and His mission.

Prayer serves to showcase whatever is on your heart; it reflects your passions. If you do not pray consistently and fervently for the nations, pray for workers for the harvest, pray for the reach of the gospel, pray for Christ’s glory to be made known in all the earth, you do not have any reason to believe that those things will happen through you or the church.

When God burdens people to pray for missions, He lights a fire that is not easily extinguished. Churches and their people begin to pray, then to give, and then to go. The first missions endeavor on record emerged from a period of worship, prayer and fasting among the members of the church in Antioch (cf. Acts 13). Christ Himself established prayer as a precedent for missions. “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest'” (Matt. 9:37–38). Whenever the church joins together to pray for God to send workers, He does.

Prevailing prayer stirs the heart and opens our eyes to see what God sees, to love what He loves and to long for what He longs for. Spending time in the presence of One who loves and pursues the nations cannot help but be contagious.

1.2 THE GOSPEL MISSION THROUGH THE CHURCH IS A COMMUNITY CALLING (11-13)

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.”

The church is beautiful. It’s beautiful because Jesus is the Groom and we are His Bride. We are incomplete and insufficient without one another. If I am not pouring into the church or allowing the church pour into me, I am forsaking God’s means for my spiritual growth and together we are forsaking our calling (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25). Paul longs to pour into the church, but he also longs for it to pour into him. He wants to be mutually encouraged by their faith. Paul wasn’t a super saint. He wasn’t a one-man-show that could function solo.

Serving the nations can be discouraging, lonely and difficult. What Sarah and I miss most about our home church is their fellowship and spiritual nourishment. We miss our small group where we were confronting sin in love. We miss sitting under the pastor’s preaching. We realize how much we need the church, we need their prayers, we need their encouragement, we need their fellowship, we need their nourishment, we need them to ask us the hard questions, and we need them to come with us.

Mission is a community calling. Paul desired a harvest among the Romans. As we go to the nations, you are going to your community. The harvest is not in the pew, it’s beyond your parking lot. Go to it. Missions begins with you, the church, your prayers and your common calling.

2. THE GOSPEL MISSION IS YOUR JOYFUL OBLIGATION (14-15)

“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

An obligation is an action we are bound to by commitment. It’s a word that reminds us of a burden or duty or chore, yet why is Paul eager (joyful as a monkey in a fruit market) to preach the gospel to all people? Remember, Acts 9? Remember how he was changed by the gospel on the road to Damascus? People transformed by the gospel have a joyful obligation to propagate the good news. Paul is under obligation by Christ to preach the gospel to all peoples, not just his people. The gospel mandate to “make disciples of all nations” is our joy. Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”

If the gospel is not your joyful obligation refresh yourself with the gospel again. Notice, who is Paul eager to preach the gospel to? Romans. Why Romans? In other words, why is he eager to preach the gospel to Christians? To Paul, the gospel is not just initial saving faith; it’s a call to continue to walk in faith each day. The gospel is not the ABC’s of your faith, it’s the A-Z’s of your faith walk. Everything you do from your spiritual birth to death is rooted in the gospel. That’s why it is your joy it is to preach the gospel to all people, including yourselves again and again each day.

The gospel calls us to action. The gospel cannot be contained within the four walls of the church, but it will not rest until it has reached the four corners of the earth. “My aim is to evangelize where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15:20). This verse stands as the slogan for many missionaries and church planters. To act on the gospel is to obey it and proclaim it until all have heard. It is not enough to cut checks each month to families who are serving around the globe and call it missions. It’s when all the church is going to all the world. That is missions.

Certain countries build barriers and make it hard for Christians to cross borders, but God is there. God is at work. Look at China and read the story of Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man. Or look at the Iron Curtain and read the story of Brother Andrew, The God Smuggler. These are just a few of the stories showing how God busts through man-made barriers. Walls of fear between your neighbor build brick by brick, but those barriers are invisible to God. The gospel sees no barrier or border (i.e. race, status), therefore, you must see no border to the gospel either. The gospel without borders is missions.

The scope of the gospel is global and local. It starts with the border closest to you. The person who butts up to your property. The grumpy guy who is particular about his yard and yells when your dog runs through it. Silent Sally who you barely hear a peep from the apartment across from you. It’s your mission to bring the gospel to your neighbors. It’s your joyful obligation.

Our family parked in Philly for 3-months. It was there we had our daughter Sophia. We lived in a parsonage and we had neighbors that we really wanted to share the gospel. It was a family with teenage children. I knew I should reach out and befriend them. But my sense of “should” had no motivating power. It was law, not gospel. My love was conditional—if we had more in common, if we were here longer, it would be easier. Two-months passed and we made very little contact with our neighbors. Until one day, Sarah was backing out of our driveway and our neighbor was backing out of their driveway too. Our cars collided in the middle of the street. The opportunity to connect with our neighbors appeared suddenly. The majority fault for the accident was our neighbors and they we’re quite ashamed. In the days that followed we were able to have conversations with our neighbors. Sarah especially showed love, kindness, and grace. She even took time one evening before we were about to leave for Quebec to share with them the gospel. It was her joyful obligation with a little help from an accident.

3. THE GOSPEL MISSION IS FUELED BY A PASSION FOR THE GOSPEL (16)

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Have you noticed that Paul talks about the gospel constantly? You do not have to guess Paul’s hobbyhorse. If you’re in a conversation with him for one-minute you can bank your bets on him directing the conversation to the gospel. Paul boasts boldly and bountifully in the gospel. It’s his passion. It’s his mission. He has no shame because the gospel has erased all and any shame he had before or after Christ. The gospel has set him free from shame. The gospel might bring shame upon Christians from a sinful world, but it’s message will remove the shame that stains the world.

According to Paul, the gospel is not just something that saves; it is the only thing that saves. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. So without the gospel there is no missions, and missions is not missions without the gospel. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Mission is a label put on many things. We can do a lot of good things that we ought to do (i.e. care for widows, orphans, build homes for habitat, feed starving children, cure aids, etc.) all motivated by a passion for God and compassion for needy people, but is this missions? Let it be known, healthy in hell isn’t our mission. Ministry without the gospel it is not missions. “Missions is the activity of God’s people partnering with God’s mission.” And God’s mission, from before the foundation of the world, has been to redeem a lost and broken world. Paul alludes to this earlier in Romans 1,

”Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,” (Romans 1:1-6)

If reaching the nations with the gospel is God’s passion, I want it to be my passion too. May our prayer mimic Amy Carmichael who wrote, “Give me the love that leads the way, The faith that nothing can dismay, The hope no disappointments tire, The passion that will burn like fire, Let me not sink to be a clod: Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.”

4. THE GOSPEL MISSION IS ROOTED IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD (17)

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

People desperately need hope, they need God’s love and goodness, they need His righteousness; a righteousness that originated in God, was prepared by God before time, is revealed in the gospel of Christ, and is offered to all. Missions is about God giving faith to people who previously had miscued faith and no faith in Christ. The gospel is God’s means to open blind eyes to the beauty of Christ’s righteousness,

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11; cf. Romans 3:21-26)

To recap, missions begins with you, the church, through your prevailing prayers and your community calling. Missions is your joyful obligation. Missions is fueled by a passion for the gospel. And missions is rooted in the righteousness of God. How are you actively partnering locally and globally with God’s mission?

let there be light

christmas-star

This message is used by permission from my good friend Brian. Brian is a former physicians assistant and shepherd. Now Brian is serving the gospel to the least reached. He is living the Words he wants you to hear. Be a light in darkness this Christmas…

2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

For the first time in my life I made the connection between this passage and the creation account in Genesis 1.  The opening verses of Genesis are some of the most well known verses in all of scripture, right up there with John 3:16.  And we’ve probably heard or read these words at least 100 times before. But now I was beginning to make the connection between God’s strategy for saving the world and that which He was breathing into a visible and tangible form at creation.

Genesis 1:1-5 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

Every time I’ve read this or heard it, I always thought, Wow, God is a powerful God.  He is amazing.  He is a creative and awesome God.  For by the breath of His mouth, the universe and all of creation was called into existence.

But there is something even more amazing being spoken of in this passage.  Something  that I had never seen before.  Something that pulses deeper than even the glory and majesty of creation.  And its something that existed long before Genesis 1 ever did.

And that was God’s plan for redeeming the rebellion of humanity and winning His bride back to Himself.  I want you to see that when God called forth light out of the darkness, it was pointing to Jesus.  But not only was it poetically prophesying the coming of Christ, it was manifesting God’s design and call upon all those who would follow Him.

So I think there are 2 vitally important things we need to learn from this passage that relate directly to our lives as we pursue after God and seek to be imitators of Christ.

Light Shines in the Darkness

The first is that light was created to shine in the darkness.  Genesis 1 paints such a clear picture of this.  It starts out by saying that darkness covered the face the deep.  In other words, it was crazy dark.  You know, the kind where you can’t see your hand when it is right in front of your face.  And it was into this that God says: “Let there be light.”

Now I want to be clear about this because the practical applications of this are costly.  Its fun to talk about and intellectualize, but to change our lives to bring them in alignment with the truth of what this teaches is a whole other story.  So I want to make sure we are all on the same page here.

God did not call forth light to shine in the light.  It wasn’t because “light” covered the face of the deep that God says “Let there be light.”  It was because there was darkness.  God said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” Light has a created purpose and was designed to exist and shine in the darkness.

So now we have to begin to deal with the implications of this for our lives.  Because we are that light.  We are the light that was redeemed to shine in the darkness.

Matthew 5:14-16 says “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Now I just want to make one clarification.  We are not the Light capital “L.”  When this passage says that “you (and I) are the light of the world,” it means we are the light of the world like the moon is the light of the night.  The moon is just a big round pile of dirt.  It has zero ability of producing light.  But when you go outside on a dark night and look up into the sky, the moon’s brightness can light up the night.

And we say, look at the moon. Look how bright the moon is shinning.  And in doing so, we ascribe or we attribute the ability to produce light to the moon, when in reality, it is only reflecting the light of the sun.  It can’t make one tiny shred of light itself.  And so it is no different for us.

In this passage and anywhere else in Scripture for that matter, when you see it referring to us as the light, just know that it is not us that is the light.  We only shine when we are reflecting the Son, “S-O-N.”  And just as the moon was created to shine in the darkness by reflecting the sun’s light, so we were made to do the same.

So the first issue we have to deal with is where are we shinning? I have to tell you.  I was so convicted by this, that as a youth leader I had the audacity to be so excited about taking our students on summer mission trips.  And I would get so excited about being this great beacon of light in those dark areas for one glorious week every year, but I did little to nothing to shine in the darkness the rest of the time.

And now Becky and I find ourselves living in the very neighborhoods that we served on our mission trips to those places and all I could think about is moving somewhere else.  It was good enough to do for a week on a mission trip, but to actually live there and start to raise our family in such a place was hard to come to grips with.

God is not calling us to have an experience every now and then when we shine in the darkness.  Its not about having this special little time in our lives once a week every year where we turn the light on for a little while and pretend this is how we live all the time or this is how we would live all the time if we only had the opportunity.  Because we do have the opportunity.  It just takes sacrifices that if we admit it, are probably not willing to make.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t do these things.  Engaging in short term missions is absolutely necessary.  I’ll be the first one in line when given the chance and I’ll be the biggest cheerleader encouraging anyone and everyone to go.  All I’m saying is that what happens in the that week should simply be a reflection of what happens in our lives every single day.

You see, I have come to the humbling place in my life where I began to realize I was doing all this “stuff” for the Kingdom, but it was all being done in the light.  I was involved in this and I was involved in that, and it was all good and worthy stuff, but it wasn’t about shining in the darkness.  I found I was just fooling myself behind this disguise of advancing God’s Kingdom without actually setting foot in the darkness.

His Kingdom is a Kingdom of Light.  No matter how hard we work or what great things we accomplish in the light, His Kingdom is already present there.  And if we are going to be a people who are about advancing His Kingdom, it can only be done in the darkness.

We were called into His marvelous light in order that we might shine in the darkness.   This means that our lives must be lived out in the those places.  Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to move to the inner city, but some of you might.  Some of you may need to go home and start packing boxes.  And don’t be looking round at your neighbor right now, cause I’m talking to you.  And maybe its not about where your home is, but where you work or where you go to school.

What I am saying is that we need to take a good hard look at where we are shining.    And we need to stop making excuses for keeping our distance from the darkness.  Its not comfortable.  Its too hot.  Its not safe.  The school district isn’t good enough.  Its too far.  Its too hard.  Its too costly.  It takes too much time.  It doesn’t align with our goals, or our family or our future.

To be a light in the darkness is costly.  It is not safe.  It is not always comfortable.  It is certainly not the easy way to live.  But why would be dare be content with anything else?  Don’t settle to be a light among lights.  Don’t compromise for the sake of safety or comfort.  We have but one candle to burn, and I’d rather burn it out where people are dying in darkness than in a place that is flooded with lights.

God Separated the Light from the Darkness

The second thing I want us to see is that God separated the light from the darkness.  That is, God set apart the light to be different.  While the light was created to exist and shine in the darkness, it was made to be fundamentally different from it.  When God created the light, there was no question as to which one was which.

God didn’t make a light that most days of the week looks like darkness except on Sundays.  Or one that maybe shines all week except for Friday and Saturday night.  And He didn’t make a light with a motion detector so that when left alone it was identical to the darkness, but as soon as somebody came around, it would turn on as if it had always been on.

Light doesn’t look anything like the darkness.  And there are some pretty hefty ramifications for our lives because of that.  It doesn’t walk the same.  It doesn’t talk to the same.  It doesn’t act the same.  It doesn’t spend its money the same.  It doesn’t have the same goals or values.  It is different from the darkness in every way, but yet was created uniquely to exist in beautiful harmony with it.

And this separation in essence is why we exist.  Because this is what distinguishes light from the darkness.  This is what separates believers from everybody else on the face of the planet.  Because the goal of the darkness is to make much of itself, but the purpose of the light is make much of Christ.

How is it then that the lives of sinful humans can display the glory of our Almighty God to the world?  How is it that we who are so little can make much of One who is so great?  I believe the answer is to echo the cry of John the Baptist found when he said in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John Piper said this: “This is why we exist – to display the glory of God… It is our created nature to make much of God.  Not to fulfill this purpose… is to be a mere shadow of the substance we were created to have. Not to display God’s worth by enjoying Him above all things is to be a mere echo of the music we were created to make. It is to be a mere residue of the impact we were created to have.”

The overriding thing that separates the light from the darkness is an unbalanced passion for the glory of God and the Kingdom of heaven.  And I realize that for some of you that may make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  Because a lot of times in our culture we associate unbalanced to mean unhealthy.

We talk about the need for balance in our lives all the time, right?  Balance, balance, balance.  We have to have balance.  We don’t want to be too far one way or too far the other.  And at times this is true, but I think sometimes we have watered down Jesus for the sake of balance.

There was a man by the name of Nee To-sheng, otherwise known as Watchman Nee.  He was born in communist China in 1903.  He came to know Christ at the age of 17 and spent the next 30 years traveling throughout China planting churches and shinning the Light of Christ in some of the darkness places on earth.  But in 1952 he was arrested for his faith in Christ and leadership among many of the local churches in China.  He sentenced to 15 years in prison,  although he was never let go and died in his cell 20 years later. Some of his teachings have been complied together into a profoundly powerful book called “The Normal Christian Life.”

Average and normal are not the same.  You see, average just means we look like everyone else.  Normal means we look the way Jesus expected us to look.  It means we shine the way Jesus expected us to shine.

Did Jesus really mean to love Him with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength?  Did Jesus really mean to love our neighbor as ourself?  Did Jesus really compare the Kingdom of heaven to finding a treasure in a field and selling everything for that field?  Because that doesn’t sound very balanced.

There is a word for someone who becomes that fixated on someone or something, but it isn’t balanced.  Its obsessed.  It is being driven by an all consuming passion to the point that none of what Jesus taught even sounds remotely crazy.  Quite frankly, it makes perfect sense.

If there is anything in life we need to be obsessed with.  If there is anything in life we need to be consumed by.  If there is anything in our lives that we need to be unbalanced about, it is the Jesus Christ.  It is the glory of God.  It is the Kingdom of heaven.

The more our lives display Christ’s worth above all things, the brighter He will shine in us.  This is why it is so fundamentally important for the light to be separated from the darkness.

Because when we look like we care about the same things they do.  When we look like we hope in the same stuff they do.  When we look like our values are the same as theirs, Christ will never look great in our lives.  Our lives must show that Christ is more precious than life.

To do this, we must make sacrificial life choices knowing that magnifying Christ is more valuable and more satisfying than protecting and preserving our own personal comfort or agenda.  So we may need to start asking ourselves some tough questions.  Questions that we may very well not want to know the answers to.  Because I think all to often we are far more content desiring to justify our actions instead of seeking to magnify Christ with them.

Now this is the part of the message where I would normally tell you some inspiring story about a missionary in Africa or Asia or something who is living this out.  The problem is, most of us really can’t relate very much to that.  So let me give another example that may hit a little closer to home.  Its a story about a guy who asked the right questions.

There is a pastor by the name of Francis Chan, maybe some of you have heard of him.  He has a love and devotion for God that you will rarely find anywhere.  He also happens to be an incredible speaker and when you put those 2 qualities together, it makes for a very dynamic pastor.  Thus the church he started in California grew like mad quickly topping 3000+ people.

They were making plans for building a 50 to 60 million dollar facility when he took a little trip to Uganda that changed his life forever.  He saw poverty first hand like he had never imagined.  And it got real personal for him when he saw little girls the age of his young daughters rummaging through garbage for food.

And all of a sudden it hit him, what does it mean to love my neighbor as myself?  Cause you know, Jesus said that.  In fact, He said it was so important, it was only second to loving God first.  So one of the first things he did upon returning to the states was to move his family of four out of their 2,000-square-foot house into one half that size so they could give more to missions and to the poor. He said: “I couldn’t reconcile how I could live in such a nice house while others were starving.”

The very next church board meeting Chan showed up with a one track mind.  When their church, (Cornerstone) first started and for many years there after, they gave away 4% of their budget.  Chan now walks in in the door and asked them to give 50% away.  His salary was slashed along with all other staff taking pay cuts and serious sacrifices in their programs were made.  But in less than 1/2 hour their budget was flipped on its head.

Instead of building a massive multimillion dollar building, they built an outdoor amphitheater saving countless of millions of dollars.  They have worship outside every Sunday, rain or shine.  And if it happens to rain on a Sunday morning, they get wet, but they know it is for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.

Now here is a guy, living in the United States with the exact same pressures, the exact same influences, and exact same struggles that we face, but yet consciously and intentionally positioned his life to be separated from the darkness.  While the rest of America chases after it’s illusive dream, he has refused to be seduced by it.  Instead, his heart, mind, his soul and wallet are fixed on heaven.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

My prayer is that Christ would be so prized in your lives that you would blaze so brightly it would fry the retinas right out of the eyeballs of those who look upon you.  That your  hearts be so fixed on Christ that everything else would pale in comparison.

My goal isn’t that you be moved by the stories of those people who are living radical lives for Christ, yet do nothing to act yourself.  But instead, that you would earnestly seek the face of God for where and how He would have you to shine.

I don’t claim by any stretch of the imagination to be living this perfectly.  That’s precisely why I had to preach it.  Because this message is for me as much as it is for any of you.  It is time we be the light we were created to be.  Its time we let our light shine in the darkness.  And its time that the only thing people see when they look at us is a life obsessed with Jesus Christ.

7 year mission

It was 7 years before William Carey baptized his first convert in India; it was 7 years before Judson won his first disciple in Burma; Morrison toiled 7 years before the first Chinaman was brought to Christ; Moffat declares that he waited 7 years to see the first evident moving of the Holy Spirit upon his Bechuanas of Africa; Henry Richards wrought 7 years on the Congo before the first convert was gained at Banza Manteka. – A.J. Gordon, The Holy Spirit in Missions, pp.139-140

4/14 Window

What is the 4/14 Window?

The 4/14 Window refers to all children between the ages of 4 to 14. During this decade or “window,” most children in this demographic develop their moral and spiritual foundations.

Why is this age group so important?

There are 2.3 billion children on earth under age 15 and they represent the largest unreached people group in the world. Boys and girls in the 4/14 Window are given priority because they are more open and receptive to the gospel than older youth and adults. Nearly 85% of people who make a decision for Christ, do so between the ages of 4 to 14!

What is the 4/14 Window Initiative?

The 4/14 Window Initiative is “to raise-up a new generation from the 4/14 Window to transform the world for Christ.” This is simply the mission statement of the 4/14 Window Movement.

Who oversees the 4/14 Window Movement?

The 4/14 Window Movement is a partnership of Christ followers and Christian leaders from the Body of Christ around the world. While many denominations and ministries are represented, the 4/14 Movement is non-denominational. Many who serve within the movement are employed by local churches or other ministries. The 4/14 Movement has no headquarters, no formal organization and no paid staff. Everyone who serves, does so out their love for Jesus Christ and the children in the 4/14 Window.

Find out more about at the 4/14 Window website. Download the prayer and fasting guide.

a prayer for missions

God of truth and love; Father Son and Holy Spirit,

Hear our prayer for those who do not know You.

We ask that they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth

and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world.

Sustain, inspire and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel.

Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile.

Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church;

raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world

Make us witnesses to Your goodness; full of love, strength and faith –

for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world.

[HT]

what does Jesus say about your mission?

Now that we’ve discussed some of the common myths about missions, let’s hear from the Word of Truth Himself. Jesus has some words for us about your mission.

Missions is about JESUS and His POWER to save

“all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me.” Do you remember your mother saying, “Hon, can you clean your room.” And you’d ask, “Why mom?” With a strong tone she’d respond, “Because I am your mom and I said so.” Jesus pulls the authority card, but He doesn’t lord it over He loves it over. He is the card club carrier to all the cosmic power of the universe. He has been delegated authority from the Father. Now that Jesus has your full attention, He takes no questions because He has the right and power to do as He pleases.[1] Today He rules over the earth. He has authority over politics and government, armies and military might, the stock market and your retirement, science and education, TV and Internet, natural disasters and natural phenomenon’s, He even has authority over your life.

Missions is about YOU

“Go and make disciples.” What is the command in Jesus’ word? Many often say it is “go”, but go is the action of the command. In other words it is as if Jesus says, “as you go” or “wherever you go” The command is to “make disciples.” A disciple is a follower or worshiper of Christ.  The instinct of a Jesus follower is reproducing followers of Jesus through the power and message of Jesus. To make Jesus followers is just a thing you do![2] As Jesus says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” [Mark 16:15] And as Paul echoes, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace” [Romans 10:15]. Missions is not missions without you making disciples as you go, as you live. Coming to Christ makes you a Christian. Obeying Christ makes you a missionary. As my missions professor in college use to say, “Every believer is an immediate missionary for Christ.”

Missions is about PEOPLE EVERYWHERE

“all the nations.” The mission is to make disciples of “all nations.” The word nation here is where you get the word ethnicity [ethnos, cf. Revelation 5:9]. You see, God loves all the people of the world.[3] He loves all ethnicities, nations, and races of people in the world. He does not see color, status or class. Since we are not God it is hard for me to love as broadly as God. I love the Green Bay Packers and mountain biking. I also love bratwursts and cheese. I really love my wife and family. As an “ambassador” of Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 5:20] I am representative of a foreign land, a home I long for but have not arrived and whose ruler is my Savior. There is no culture or religion beyond the scope of the Great Commission, and Jesus wants to be exalted above every people, nation, and religion.

Missions is about CHANGED LIVES through the power of the gospel

“baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” Often these words of Jesus are known as the great omission of the great commission. The forgotten and forsaken part of the mission is to help people live in the power of the gospel. First, a changed life is willing to publically identify with Christ [and His death and resurrection] by walking through the waters of baptism. Second, a changed life loves to teach other about the words of Christ [Romans 1:16]. A changed life is one who is dying to self, bears his own cross [Luke 14:27], and is becoming alive to Christ. The road to Golgotha is tough, but people of the gospel count the cost and are willing to pay the price. But it is not a road we have to walk alone.

Missions is about living confidently within GOD’S MISSION

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus begins His short sentence with a great claim and a great command, but He finishes with a great comfort. Who promises to be with you? Jesus—the One with all authority. He promises His presence [cf. Jeremiah 31:33; 32:40]. There is power in God’s presence. There is confidence and courage in His presence. How long does He promise His presence with you? Always, which can literally be rendered, “all the days,” or “until the end of time.” He will be with you without breaks [Hebrews 13:5]. God will not take a vacation from you or His redeeming purposes. God is on a mission. And Christianity is a missionary faith.

I want to hold out to you four ways that you can respond today:

First, make prayer commitment for the rest of this year for an unreached people group [go to Joshua Project] or a missionary—for your own soul and vocational change.

Second, get a loose change can or jar and let it remind you to pray as you give.

Third, buy a good missions biography or other book on missions. Be warned. It is one of the most wonderfully dangerous things you can do to undermine your addiction to the American dream.

Fourth, make a bold commitment and acknowledge that God has been awakening you in both a willingness to go and a desire to take practical steps to be prepared to go. And tell your pastor.

DON’T BE A MYTH. MAXIMIZE YOUR ROLE IN HIS MISSION.


[1] cf. Philippians 2:5-11; Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 1:9-20

[2] John 14:15, 23-24, 15:10; 1 John 5:1-3, 2:3-6

[3] John 3:16; Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 52:10, 61:11

Adoniram Judson’s prayer for you

O God, have mercy on the churches in the United States…continue and perpetuate the heavenly revivals of religion which they have begun to enjoy; and may the time soon come when no church shall dare to sit under the Sabbath and sanctuary privileges without having one of their number to represent them on heathen ground.

Have mercy on the theological seminaries, and hasten the time when one half of all who yearly enter the ministry shall be taken by Thine Holy Spirit, and driven into the wilderness, feeling a sweet necessity laid upon them, and the precious love of Christ and the souls constraining them.

Hear, O Lord, all the prayers which are this day presented in all the monthly concerts throughout the habitable globe, and hasten the millennial glory, for which we are all longing, and praying, and laboring…Come, O our Bridegroom; come, Lord Jesus!

– Adoniram Judson, quoted in J.D. Greear’s Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim, page 141

thumb licks [9.18.11]

10 Questions Leaders Should Be Asking. Great for leaders and anybody for that matter.

Without the Gospel, It’s Not Missions.

Why Doesn’t Anybody Talk About Sin? A good question with good insight.

Who is Responsible for a Child’s Education? Is it the parent or the school?

Lonely Me: A Pastoral Perspective

Is Patience Dangerous?

thumb licks [6.2.11]

Why not Go?

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.” There is a single word in this command of Jesus which continually haunts me: the word “go.” It never seems to leave me alone. It forces itself into my brain at the most inopportune times, and it weighs upon my soul with tremendous gravity. It grabs my attention when I am occupied with other thoughts, and it refuses to release its grip on my conscience no matter how I try to ignore it. I find it singularly upsetting and exceedingly uncomfortable. It is a nuisance. “Go.”

The Art of Apologizing

“I’m sorry.”  We hear that so often. Do we even stop to think: “What does it mean?” or “Where did that phrase come from?” Even if you have not spent any length of time dealing with those questions, at the very least you have formed an opinion about what a good apology should look like. All too often do you hear a celebrity or politician on camera apologizing for something they did wrong (or at least got caught doing).  But, rarely do we believe them. Why is that? What makes an apology a sincere one? How should we respond to an insincere one? How can we avoid giving an insincere apology?

Alzheimer’s and Gospel Transformation

I currently work in the activities department of an Alzheimer’s special care unit.  This translates into the fact that I spend eight hours per day in a room with 20-30 people who are experiencing moderate to severe dementia from Alzheimer’s disease or another cause.  Revealing this usually opens up interesting avenues of conversation.  One sentiment that I hear often from people who talk to me about my job is this one: “I’d rather be dead than go through that.” People have a variety of ways of expressing this feeling, and most often I just nod and say something like, “It is a difficult situation for people and their families.”  There are very few ways to accurately communicate anything about Alzheimer’s without becoming too intense for a “Hi! I just met you” conversation…

Obedience is Possible

I believe with all my heart that we can do nothing to merit eternal life. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. God accepts and declares us righteous not because of our good deeds, but because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We cannot earn God’s favor. We depend entirely on his gospel grace. We can also be obedient.

Your kid’s an All Star? Wow! Someday he’ll be average like the rest of us

The church in America is puzzled. Young adults are leaving in droves. Magazines, books and blogs are wagging the finger of blame to point out who is responsible. Some say it is a failure of youth ministry, some point to church budgets and some nail the blame on outdated, unhip worship services. We parents are shocked that our kids just really aren’t all that into Jesus.

The 50 Best/Worst Childhood Fads

They were the best of fads, they were the worst of fads—all at the same time. The faddish objects of our childhood were sometimes loved and sometimes hated but they were hard to ignore. Here are a list of the 50 best/worst from the 1960s to today…

‪Shallow Small Group Bible Study‬

the role of the sent one

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HUTTS: Before coming to BGBC, I spent a year in South Africa doing a church planting apprenticeship. There I gained a vision for the church, church planting, global mission, and a heart for Africa. Coming to BGBC I sought a church that loved church planting and global missions. It has been a joy the last 8 years to watch this church with a long history of missions-mindedness send out missionaries to the foreign field. Sarah and I will be the next ones sent out from this church.

BRIEF HISTORY OF SENT ONES IN THE NT: We see 4 examples of churches in the New Testament that sent people out for Christ’s mission. First, Jerusalem was hub of the first church where gospel preaching, fellowship, and suffering together led to remarkable growth and expansion of the church. Second, Antioch a hub of missions to the north and west because the church was well-mixed ethnically and well-led spiritually. Third, Philippi was a church that financially supported and encouraged Paul. His letter to them is more of a thank you letter for their support. Paul brings up an important principle in the mission of the church: the mission is a partnership in the gospel. Finally, we see a community [near Ephesus] tucked away at the end of the Bible in 3 John.

BRIEF HISTORY OF JOHN AND THE SENT ONES: The church to which the apostle John wrote seems to have problems and divisions [what church doesn’t?]. John sent messengers of the gospel to the church and they were met with a mixed reception. Gaius welcomed and supported them [vs.1-5], while Diotrephes [a self-appointed leader; false teacher] thwarted and evicted them [vs.9-11]. 3 John could be a case between two types of missionaries. I will place most of my emphasis on Gaius. What John says to Gaius is informative and is a biblical model for what [TO ME] is the mission of sending out.

1) SENT ONES ARE SENT OUT THROUGH THE CHURCH [3 John 6]

The church is the hub of Jesus’ missions. Missions and sent ones must be doing ministry through the church, for the church, by the church, in the church, because of the church, for the sake of Christ’s glory who is the Head of the church. If sent ones are doing anything other than planting the church, they are parachurch [i.e. alongside the church; orphanage, bookstores, seminaries, etc]. Sent ones are faithful to the mission of the church.

3 WAYS FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS ARE SENT OUT:

By the Holy Spirit. According to Acts 13:1-3, the Holy Spirit of God sends out qualified servant-leaders from local churches to plant new churches in new lands. God’s Spirit gives witness of this calling both to the sent one and the sending church. In recognizing how God wants to use the sent one, the church then “releases” them.

Through the call of Christ. In John 20:21, Jesus says to all his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Jesus was sent into the world to become the Savior. You are sent into the world to proclaim what Christ has done and call people to faith in Him. Therefore, every Christian should evangelize locally and, if possible, support the work of bringing the gospel globally.

Through local churches. The local church, again, is the vehicle God uses to send out people to preach the gospel with the goal of establishing new local churches wherever they go [Acts 13:4-5; Acts 14:21-23]. This means that local churches are responsible to raise up, send out, and support missionaries whose goal is not merely to see individuals come to Christ, but to see local churches established in regions where there are none.

The church “does well to sends them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.” What does that mean? It could mean cutting them checks, it could mean having a beautiful commissioning service, or waving good-bye at the airport. However, I would hold that it means more than that! To send one in a manner worthy of God is to support them in such a way that God would approve: Arrange all hospitality with lodging and meals while home [Romans 15:24; 1 Corinthians 16:6-11; 2 Corinthians 1:16], offer transportation and accompaniment [Acts 20:38; 21:5], and freely give resources and encouragement [Titus 3:13; Acts 15:3]. Servants of Christ should be treated like we were sending Jesus on His journey. When a missionary calls your church asking for support do you hear their story, encourage them, and pray with them even if you know you cannot support them financially? You do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.

2) SENT ONES GO OUT FOR THE SAKE OF THE NAME [3 John 7]

Most missionaries tend to be Type-A kind of people. When sending out people from your church aim to cultivate character over mere skills. The person you are considering might be gung-ho, super-skilled, have a sweet resume, look like leadership-material, wears Christian T-shirts and is quite evangelistic, but he or she could be corrupt in their core. Spend time with them in the testing fields, before you unleash them to the mission field. Sent ones spent a long time with their sending church serving [Acts 18:22-28].

ESSENTIAL EXPECTATIONS [AS ONE BEING SENT] CONCERNING HOW MY CHURCH PREPARES ME:

Surrendered.  Look for one overwhelmed by their own salvation, committed to Christ, consumed by the message of His gospel, and championing the One Name [Philippians 2:9; Romans 1:5; Acts 5:40-41]. Period. [Galatians 2:20; 6:14; Colossians 1:24-27]. The power, authority, and glory for the mission is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Servanthood. Do they choose the towel over the robe? Giving one a robe is a special honor [Luke 15:22]. When one was given an important task or office they received a robe. The disciples often aspired for the robe, but Jesus sought the towel [Matthew 20:20-28]. The greatest missionary is a one who takes the position of the least [Luke 22:24; Matthew 20:26]. Sent ones are servants of Christ first and foremost.

Humility. This is the posture of a servant. They “accept nothing from the Gentiles.” This was not arrogant humility or false humility; rather they only accepted support from Christians and churches that understand the mission. Humble servants understand the results in ministry come from God, not from the human instrument. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” [1 Corinthians 3:6-7].

Full of Integrity. God expresses far more interest in what we are than in what we do or where we go. Here are some good questions to pry into the life of new or old missionary: Are they financially responsible? Are they pure of heart and mind? Do they have a pattern of good relationships? Do they deal with conflict biblically? Are they faithful to their family? Ministry should not destroy the family and the family should not destroy ministry. Integrity is important at home, work and the ministry. Since, distance makes it easier to hide, as one sent, I am responsible to be proactively communicating with my sending church with openness and honesty.

Faithfully Bearing Fruit. [vs. 3-4, faithful to the church & others] If someone wants to evangelize in China, are they already evangelizing Chinese people? If someone wants to be a Bible translator, are they already studying the biblical languages? Sending someone out to minister on behalf of a church is a serious matter. “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” [1 Corinthians 4:1-2]. In Acts 13:1-3, the church sends out only those who have proven themselves in godly character and ministry effectiveness, who are sound doctrinally and equipped for ministry, who show the fruit of the Spirit, and who have remained steadfast under trial. Consequently true success in missions is measured by faithfulness to the task, not by immediate, visible results.

Biblically Minded. A missionary will face all kinds of new challenges and unorthodox beliefs/worldviews. He or she will need to be able to confront these unexpected challenges biblically. Sometimes they return from the field tired, discouraged and depressed, and a biblical framework would be helpful. Also, on the field, exegetical skills are important for training church leaders, counseling, planning, team working, evangelizing, discipling, spiritual warfare, and so much more.

Love for the church. According to the Scripture there is no such this as a rogue missionary, Lone Ranger Servants, Christians Tourists or Commercial Travelers/Charlatan. The missionary represents the church and its mission. A sent one should willingly submit to the elders of the local church that sends him [1 Peter 5:1-5; Hebrews 13:17], and more importantly they submit to Christ who is over the church [Ephesians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 11:3]. Remember, missionaries are sinners too. They need accountability and counsel. It is important the missionary be a member of the church. Not just a member, but also an active member, a fruitful member, and a theologically and methodologically minded member. Your sent one is part of the mission of your church, planting like-minded churches through your church.

3) SENT ONES HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THEIR SENDING CHURCH [3 John 8]

“We ought” is rather weak. It would be better translated, “we are obligated to support people like this.” The church and the ones they send are partners [i.e. fellow workers] in the gospel of Jesus Christ [i.e. truth]. Therefore, together we must do all we can to support one another in the growth of the church and the continuance of the gospel message. It is not about what the church does for the missionary, but what it does through the missionary. Likewise, It is not about what the missionary does for the church, but what he does through the church.

In conclusion, as one who is being sent from the church I recognize first of all that it is the church that sends me out. Second, I must go out for the sake of the name and no other. My character as an ambassador of Christ and representative of His church seriously matters. Third, I must encourage the support [receive] and be willing to support [give] the church sending me out. Together, the sent one and the senders lift high Christ and His church.

This is how we do missions as a church. John helped start all these churches, and then, he sends people and money to go to those churches to get more people and more money to go start yet more churches. When they are up at that church, who greets them? Gaius, Gaius is the guy that John will send a letter ahead and say, “I’ve got Missionary Mike and I’ve got Servant Sally and I’m sending them down, and they’re going out from Fellowship Bible Church, and they’re going go plant New Bible Church, and here they come, and Gaius, you know they’re coming.”

So then, Gaius waits, and here comes Mike and his wife, and they show up, and Gaius says, “Hey, good to have you. Come stay at my house. Have some soup. You guys need money? Let me get my checkbook. How can we be praying for you? My Bible study gets together every week, and if you could let us know what to pray for, we’ll pray for it.” That’s Gaius. Gaius gets behind their work, and is really happy to be involved, and John says why, “So that we may work together for the truth.”

Don’t be a Diotrephes.

Let’s go Gaius!

spreading the fame

It is unbelievable to think that there are hundreds of people groups around this planet that do not know the name of Jesus or bowed their knee to His name. Unreached people are all around you. They might be in your family, at your work, next door to your home, or even in your church.

In our nation you do not have as many unreached as you do have unengaged. Unengaged are people who do not hear or see a gospel. Instead, you see people busy building their names and kingdoms. Personal fame is the name of their game. However, what you observe from history is that it takes one to two generations before your name disappears and becomes forgotten. This land has acres of rectangle lots where people are buried, but few know anything about those 6 feet below those tombstones. What will be remembered about you 100 years from now? Where will you be 100 years from now? That’s what matters. There is One whose fame will last the test of time. Do you know Him?

In Psalm 145, we hear a majestic masterpiece. It is a song that is composed of beautiful Hebrew acrostic hidden to our English eyes.  This psalm is what is called a doxology. A doxology is praise based on doctrine—worshiping God from in spirit and truth. People praise God based on what they know about Him. What you can know about Him is revealed to you in His Word through His Spirit.

This is David’s last psalm recorded in the Book of Psalms. It is his crescendo of praise—his swan song. It is like that of a powerful rock ballad that hammers an explosive ending that just when you think it is coming to an end there is encore multiplied by encore. Praise [Heb.Hallel] means to radiate and shine—boast and brag. This is a song needs to be integrated in our souls and ringing in our ears. No matter where you are at today—discourage, overwhelmed, confused, bored, ready to worship—this song is for you.

 

Prelude [1-2]: David begins his song with a high and low. In the high David says to God, “I extol You, my God and King.” To extol means to lift high. It is to make God’s name the highest, greatest, best, most known and most famous. In the low he says, “Bless Your name” To bless [Heb. barak] means to make low—to literally bow the knee. It is an expression of humility to God’s authority. This reverent kneeling is not just a one-time deal. David says, “I will bless You everyday… forever and ever” Now not everyday is the same. Some days are harder than others. Some days have challenges. He says, “I will bless God no matter the circumstances.” The idea of praising God is to lift Him higher and bow me lower. This is worship. How do we spread the fame of God’s name? Note these 5 stanzas of praise to God:

 

Stanza 1: Greatness of God [3-7]. God’s greatness is seen in His power and authority. His greatness cannot be contained. His greatness is limitless and awe-inspiring. Even your greatest thought about God is puny compared His reality. He cannot be fully realized or comprehended. He boggles our minds. His greatness is unsearchable and indescribable [v.3]. Trying to comprehend Him is like floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean. You can not know its depth, width, breadth or height. So it is with God.

The greatness of God is spread by “One generation shall declare your mighty acts to another.” [v.4] Do you share what God has done in and through you? There is a mandate for parents in these verses—that parents would declare God’s mighty acts to their children. Do you tell your children about the great things God has done? This fires me up about being a parent. Tell and retell God’s great works. Don’t be the last link in your family. Pass the spiritual torch to the next generation. What is the greatest inheritance you can give to your children?

There are many ways we can declare God’s greatness. You can begin by declaring it to yourself [v.5]. Meditate means to ponder, to converse aloud with yourself, to remind yourself, to stir up your memory, to preach to yourself. The idea of meditation is to hear your own thoughts make statements about God. Take a moment to think about His greatness. What does David meditate upon? The “glorious splendor of God’s majesty.” [vs.6-7] He weighs in on the worthiness of God’s greatness. Do you need peace and comfort for your soul, counsel through a tough marriage, rough workweek or nagging sin issue? Meditate upon God’s great power and work.

The more I know about God the more I amazed that I do not know very much about God. Getting my Masters Degree taught me that I could spend the rest of my life just scratching the surface of God’s greatness. As I learn about God it cannot keep silent. The greatness of God is too exciting to keep secret. David needed to talk about God. It was on the tip of his tongue Does your conversation lead to God? If you were to map out your talk do they funnel towards God? This is the basis of our fellowship in this church. Our unity and community is in our talk about the greatness of God.

 

Stanza 2: Grace and Mercy of God [8-9]. These verses are a classic expression of praise for God’s character.[1] God’s grace is His favor that He gives to those who do not deserve it. His mercy is withholding of His wrath from those who do deserve it. He is patient with those who arouse His anger with their sin. He is loyal with a long-lasting love. God is a good King. He does not rule with dread to those who are in His kingdom and escape His wrath by the blood of His Son. God’s grace is not cheap little gifts from the dollar store, but priceless gifts poured out from a warehouse stocked full to the ceilings. In response, all of His works and all His people will praise Him [v.10].

Stanza 3: Sovereignty of God [10-13]. God is enthroned in the heavens and His kingdom remains forever. He rules over all things. He has the authority to do as He pleases. He has the power to carry out all He promises to do. Does that bring comfort to your soul? God is not a maverick. He is not random. He doesn’t second-guess Himself. He does not make mistakes. He holds all things together.

The sovereignty of God is key to evangelism. Since, God is your Creator that makes Him your absolute authority. You are responsible to Him. He owns you. Stop your rebellion and return to Jesus Christ. You will stand before Him as your King. That is the essence of the gospel.

Stanza 4: Faithfulness of God [14-16]. God is generous. God is a provider. He comforts those in need [v.14]. He nourishes the needs to those He has a covenant relationship [vs.15-16]. Considering the faithfulness of God can be the greatest counsel to your needy, broken, and empty spirit. He will fill your hand and satisfy the hunger in your soul. As I think about the people of North Africa and reaching them with the gospel I am overwhelmed by their physical needs. However, the gospel will provide them more satisfaction than drilling a well for fresh water, protecting from radicals, rapists and terrorists, or reforming nations with decent dictators who will care for their own people. The gospel changes somebody from the inside out, forever.

Stanza 5: Righteousness of God [17-20]. God is working all things together for your good and His glory [cf. Romans 8:28-29]. There are many people around the world that consider their current circumstances: sisters and mothers raped, families displaced by genocide, immense poverty and suffering at the hands of tyrants, “Is there any justice?” Does it seem like Satan is winning the war? In the Lord, justice is at home in His righteousness. Everything the Lord does is right [v.17]. His righteousness looks for your sincerity [18], your reverence [19], and your love [20] even in the face of worldly danger. God’s righteousness will deal with injustice.

Coda [21]: The coda is the final movement of a musical piece. The coda of David’s psalm answers the question: How do we spread the fame of God’s name? By proclaiming His praise to every person [v.21; cf. Revelation 5:6-10]. How will they believe if no one tells them?

So this is why our hearts are set the unreached. Why not stay in North America? Good question. The answer from Psalm 145 is simple; Have a passion for God and compassion to make the name of Jesus famous to the forgotten and unengaged peoples of the world. 100 years from now we will not be remember, but God’s name will still remain. Will they know Him?


[1] Cf. Exodus 34:6; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 103:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2.

sacrifice, balance beam, cross, and urgency

sacrifice

“Where are the young men and women of this generation who will hold their lives cheap and be faithful even unto death? Where are those who will lose their lives for Christ’s sake — flinging them away for love of him? Where are those who will live dangerously and be reckless in his service? Where are his lovers — those who love him and the souls of men more than their own reputations or comfort or very life?

Where are the men who say ‘no’ to self, who take up Christ’s cross to bear it after him, who are willing to be nailed to it in college or office, home or mission field, who are willing, if need be, to bleed, to suffer and to die on it?

Where are the adventurers, the explorers, the buccaneers for God, who count one human soul of far greater value than the rise or fall of an empire? Where are the men who are willing to pay the price of vision? Where are the men of prayer? Where are God’s men in this day of God’s power?” – Howard Guinness, Sacrifice [59-60]

the cross exposes

“The cross exposes the holy sovereign Lord whose authority we have defied and whose glory we have deflected to unworthy rivals was willing to endure judgment that his own impeccable justice pronounced upon us. The cross declares that we are loved with an intensity that defies our capacity to comprehend, not because we are intrinsically lovable but because God is intrinsically love.” Elyse Fitzpatrick, Counsel from the Cross [12]

Urgent Missiology

“Amid the many facets of the American dream that contradict the core of the gospel, one ideal Americans have embraced coincides subtly with the words of Christ. As James Adams was coining the phrase “American Dream,” Franklin Roosevelt was emphasizing how Americans will postpone immediate gradificatio and even endure hard sacrifices if they are convinced their future will be better than their past. Americans are willing to take great risks, he said, if they believe it will accomplish great reward.

In similar words Jesus said to His followers, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Jesus clearly acknowledged that following Him leads to a radical reward that this following Him involves risking the safety, security, and satisfaction we have found in this world. But in the end, Jesus said, following Him leads to a radical reward that this world can never offer. This begs a question from each of us: do we believe the reward found in Jesus is worth the risk of following Him?” – David Platt, Radical [161-162]

Are you needing a call to live radically for Christ? Check out An Unadjusted Gospel in an Unreached World: Connecting Gospel Theology with Urgent Missiology

balance beam

Francis Chan is one for stories and illustrations that pack a punch. I particularly appreciate this one passed along by a good friend, Sur John. Stop holding on and walk with Christ!

Hugo Liborio

The past two summers we have taken our groups from our church down to the Dominican Republic for ministry among the sugarcane villages. This last year our trip leader was Hugo. He is a man of contagious love for God and a joy for Christ. Our team quickly came to admire his passion for Jesus, the church, and his family. He is an example of a true follower of Christ.

The Lord to Hugo home early this year.

On Saturday, January 20, 2010, SCORE International celebrated Hugo Liborio‘s life at church plant Villa España in the Dominican Republic. Hugo spent the last year of his life working as a missionary in the Dominican with his wife, Sarah, and two children who are continuing in the work.