Trifocal Lenses

20 09 2021

In chapter three of the book, Spirituality for the Sent, Susan Booth proposes that we must hold three dimensions in proper focus: spiritual, missional, and global.


As believers, we are called to be disciples of Jesus. This process of discipleship is made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit through the practice of spiritual disciplines. Just like physical health comes as a result of the disciplines of healthy eating and exercise, spiritual health is produced by a combination of spiritual disciplines empowered by the Holy Spirit, such as Bible reading and prayer.

This process of becoming a disciple of Jesus, called sanctification, should produce the fruit of being obedient to the commands of Jesus. All too often, though, the disciplines simply become an end unto themselves. We see this in church all of the time. People who call themselves Christians come to church week after week. Some read their Bibles. Some pray. Some even teach classes. However, most of these have never shared the Gospel. Most of these will never live their lives intentionally as missionaries where they live, work, and play. The vast majority will never even think about how God could use them to reach the unreached people groups of the world.

Developing spirituality through the spiritual disciplines is essential for every believer, and it should always move us into the missional sphere.


In the process of maturation as a disciple of Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit through the spiritual disciplines, one sees clearly in Scripture that obedience to the commands of Jesus impresses upon us to make disciples of other people. As a result, Christians should naturally and intentionally begin to leverage their lives to be missionaries where they live, work, and play. Whereas the spiritual disciplines look quite similar amongst all believers, this missional component will look vastly different for each individual based upon their gifts, talents, resources, location, and passions.

This will change everything about how you live your life. You will no longer see work as a place to go and earn money, but you now see it as the place where God has planted you in order to expand His Kingdom. You no longer see your hobby of fishing as a means of escape from the world, but as an opportunity to bring someone along as you disciple them. You no longer see your home as a place to cater to your needs and watch television, but as a strategic base located in a neighborhood full of people that need to hear about grace.

3 Cautions:

  1. We must not do the missional component without the spiritual component. If we try to do it on our own power, we will fail. Missions flows out of the spiritual disciplines.
  2. We should not wait to do the work of making disciples until we have perfected our spirituality. Sanctification is a life-long process that we will never perfect this side of Heaven. We must begin obeying the commands of Jesus simultaneously with our spiritual disciplines.
  3. Do not stop with your location. Go global.


Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20 is clear that we are not just to make disciples of those around us, but we are also to make disciples of all people groups. This is NOT a general statement that we can just ignore, but a specific, strategic command given by our Lord to reach all of the people groups.

In his book, In This Generation by Todd Ahrend, he uses a helpful illustration to explain Jesus’ command: Let us say there are 5 ships and all 5 of these ships are on fire. The coast guard has one helicopter and is commanded to save as many people as they can before they all sink. Their strategy would be to go to the closest ship and grab all of the people they can and continue to that ship and the next closest ones to get as many people as they can. However, if they were ordered to get as many people as they can from each ship, their strategy would change.

Jesus’ command is clear that we are to go to every tribe, tongue, and people group, not to just stay where we are and get the people closest to us. This being the case, it is imperative for every believer to work toward this goal. Each follower of Christ must ask themselves how they are to accomplish this mandate. For some, it might mean moving overseas. For others, it might mean working with refugees in our country. For all, it could mean giving to missions, praying for the unreached people groups, helping to support and send other missionaries, etc. Just like the missional component, the global component will look different for everyone as you take into account your gifts, talents, resources, and passions.


I would highly recommend reading the book, Spirituality for the Sent edited by Nathan A. Finn and Keith S. Whitfield. It is a fantastic book that is focused on finally wedding together the spiritual disciplines movement with the missional movement. Each chapter is written by a different person from a different perspective. Although I do not agree with everything presented in the book, I very much appreciated how thought-provoking it was as a whole.

Conspiracy Theories

11 05 2020

conspiracy theory
[kuhn-spiruh-see theer-ee]
1. a theory that rejects the standard explanation for an event and instead credits a covert group or organization with carrying out a secret plot
2. a belief that a particular unexplained event was caused by such a covert group
3. the idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of deceptive plots that are largely unknown to the general public

In this crazy season of the world with the coronavirus, the breaking news of Michael Flynn, bitcoin, etc. conspiracy theories seem to be having a heyday. Plus, because of the quarantine, people have more time than ever to watch all of the associated videos.

Into this mix, among Evangelical Christians, there seems to be two predominant camps, though it is much more nuanced than that: 1. Those that are leaning toward believing the conspiracy theories and sharing the Youtube videos, and 2. Those who denounce the theories and the sharing thereof. These two camps, obviously, are the ones most publicly visible on our social media platforms.

Many of these denouncements are seemingly coming from places of “higher authority,” such as articles written by popular pastors and/or published by respected Evangelical Christian websites (i.e. – Christians Are Not Immune To Conspiracy Theories or Conspiracy Theories Among Christians). The overall gist and tone of these articles is that…

  • all conspiracy theories are illegitimate
  • the posting, sharing, researching, believing, etc. of conspiracy theories is bad for Christianity to a watching world
  • Christians who share these articles and videos are immature, misinformed, or ignorant of the true facts and could be committing the sin of slander
  • Christians who read and research supposed conspiracy theories are wasting their time to the detriment of the gospel and God’s Kingdom

Each of these statements could be true, but they are not always the case. Writing an article making these blanket statements is detrimental and shows disregard for unity and our right to freely think on our own.

As pastors, we are called to equip our saints for the ministry, not tell them what to think. Pastors should teach their congregations how to research, how to be slow to post and share articles and videos, and how to think critically. We, then, need to foster dialogue among our Christian community to talk about these issues rather than write articles or say things in sermons that make our people fearful of saying anything without getting shot down or mocked.

We (pastors) also ought to get over ourselves. We have not been given a key to be able to discern what is conspiracy theory and what is not. One might argue that the facts or lack thereof speak for themselves, but truth and facts are very difficult to come by.

Take, for instance, the documentary “Plandemic” that has been circulating through social media like wildfire. This documentary has been denounced by most mainstream media as a conspiracy theory. Should we now believe the mainstream media outright and call all Christians who share this video sinful slanderers because of the allegations made against Fauci? What if the conspiracy theory is actually that the allegations are true and mainstream media is feeding us a lie because the companies controlling them stand to lose some kind of profit from this information? In that case, sharing the video would be seen as helpful.

The point is that we don’t know either way for sure. Instead of making a decision based upon flimsy facts or what the media is telling us, we begin to research it and dialogue about it, preferably not on Facebook or Twitter.


Who determines what is a conspiracy theory and what is not? Who has determined that all conspiracy theories are negative, not true, and should not be believed? When does a conspiracy theory move to a factual event? Is Satan the author of all conspiracy theories as some have claimed?

As Christians, we should know that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens (Ephesians 6:12). Knowing this, it should not be difficult to believe that some sinister things are happening on a mass scale (schemes of the devil) to the detriment of advancing the gospel. If some of these schemes got out, it might make sense to call them conspiracy theories so that most people would disregard them. If this is the case, this means that some of these so-called conspiracy theories might actually be true.

It also makes sense that Satan would put out misinformation to get Christians side-tracked from doing the mission that God set for us.

This is where understanding who we are as sinful humans and understanding how the Holy Spirit works comes into play.

Who We Are

In August 2018 a study was published in Current Biology Magazine by Wagner-Egger, Delouvee, Gauvrit, and Dieguez called Creationism and conspiracism share a common teleological bias. This study showed that those people who believed in creationism (the Biblical view that God created the world as opposed to evolution) were more apt to believe in conspiracy theories based upon a link in teleological thinking. Teleology is the study of the underlying cause of things. For instance, Christians believe that there is purpose in everything, whereas evolutionists believe there is no purpose. This belief in an underlying cause allows Christians to attach that belief to other things more easily, including conspiracy theories.

The aforementioned article presents a negative bias against teleological thinking… “Although teleological thinking has long been banned from scientific reasoning, it persists in childhood cognition, as well as in adult intuitions and beliefs.” It should be no shock to Evangelical Christians that the scientific community sees our belief system as childish and naive. Although we believe our teleological belief system to be right and good, we do need to understand that it can predispose us to seeing false purposes behind everything and too quickly attaching to conspiracy theories that we want to believe are true.

The Holy Spirit

Knowing that God created the world and has purpose behind everything is a foundational belief of Evangelical Christianity. The purpose behind everything, though, is not often very clear. This is where we need discernment empowered by the Holy Spirit to guide us and, when still in doubt, a faith that knows that God is sovereign and good.

Therefore we take interest in a conspiracy theory. We fight against our natural tendency to jump to a conclusion. We research as much as we can. We dialogue with others (even those who disagree, maybe especially). And we pray asking the Holy Spirit to guide our discernment and appropriate actions or responses.

Our Witness

The world is not on the edge of its seat to see what the church is going to do with the next conspiracy theory. The world has already disregarded the church based upon the true “conspiracy theory” that we all follow. They find it preposterous that we follow a person named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago and is attempting to set up an alternative kingdom on earth. Sounds like a conspiracy theory doesn’t it?

Jesus does, however, pray in John 17:23 that the world will know Him by seeing believers’ unity. Our first priority should not be policing who is ascribing to what conspiracy theory, but rather how we are treating each other in unity. Pastors and church leaders posting inflammatory articles may be doing more harm than good when it comes to our witness. Christians sparking Facebook and Twitter feuds over these issues can definitely be hurting our witness.

So how should we go about things? Leaders should shepherd their people gently as Christ taught and exemplified, not with public articles belittling other believers for faults they deem worthy to judge. Christians in general should be much slower to post things that they are not 100% sure about or even things that might cause division. No one is going to come to faith in Christ because you decided to make a stand on Facebook. However, you might get unfriended by the very people you are trying to reach.

What do you do if you come across a video or article that is interesting and you want others to see it in order to start a healthy dialogue? Use a private message. This promotes unity and increases our witness to a lost world.

Dangerous Caricatures

The same Christian leaders who are calling sharers of conspiracy videos slanderers are in danger of calling fellow believers fools and, even, evil.

Sharing a particular article or video might not be wise, a good witness, and may even be slander, but the intent behind the sharing cannot be determined. It would be one thing if a person shared a video knowing it to be completely untrue and slanderous. This would be evil. From my experience, though, most of the people sharing these so-called conspiracy videos are well-meaning and intelligent people. They deserve our respect, not scorn. A good Christian leader might need to speak with them about how best to get controversial information out for healthy dialogue, but it needs to be done trusting that their heart is in the right place.

Most of the articles from Christian leaders on this topic seem to paint the picture that people who have shared a conspiracy theory video are ignorant, back-woods folks who will believe anything and have fallen for an obvious trap of Satan. What might these same authors say about those same conspiracy theorists who promoted that smoking was bad for your health in the 1980s? If someone posts an article about how smoking is bad for your health now, everyone would agree with you. If you posted that same article in the 80’s, you would be ridiculed as a conspiracy theorist by doctors, mainstream media, and some Christian authors who know better than you.

We should definitely call sin out for what it is when it takes place, but we do so privately first. We don’t post an article about it characterizing everyone the same.

Waste of Time

It is argued that conspiracy theories are a waste of time and energy. This can definitely be true when taken to the extreme, just like anything. If all someone does is watch conspiracy theory videos and post them on social media, then, yes, that is a waste of time.

However, if well-meaning believers watch a video that causes them to question things, they do some adequate research and have healthy dialogue about it, and they come to an informed conclusion and do something about it, this is not a waste of time.

The Kingdom of God in its fullness is not just the presence of believers through a gospel witness, but also the absence of evil. William Carey’s number one concern was to get the gospel to India, but he also almost single-handedly saw the abolishment of the horrible practice of widow-burning. Because the “conspiracy theory” of smoking being unhealthy was found to be true, my grandfather quit smoking, and the doctors attributed him living longer to that decision.

As Christians, we ought to face the world with a healthy dose of skepticism. This is different from fear, as many Christian authors would have you believe. It is not a waste of time to research your health and be a skeptic of the pharmaceutical industry and the government bureaucracies that oversee them. It is not a waste of time to research the claims made by media that is run by multi-billion dollar companies. The Bible says that we should submit to the authority of government (Romans 13:1), but this is different than blind trust.


Pray that God would give you wisdom. (James 1:5)

We should not be consumed by conspiracy theories.

We need to learn to better communicate and share information with others while maintaining unity in the body of Christ.

We should live with a healthy dose of skepticism, not fear, knowing that we have an enemy who wants to thwart our witness.

The Privilege Of Suffering

4 03 2020

Last year was a tough year for our family. We lost someone who was very close to us unexpectedly. We did question then and continue to question now why God would have taken someone like him so early who was doing so much for the Kingdom of God. As you know, the loss of someone like that hurts. Sometimes the pain goes deeper than you believe you can bear.

I really hesitate to write about suffering because I feel like my suffering pales in comparison to others. Someone asked once, “What is the hardest language in the world to learn?” The answer is… the one you are currently learning. I think this is the case with suffering. We don’t need to compare our suffering. We just need to acknowledge that, regardless of the circumstances, suffering is hard in general.

I’ll be honest and say that I find it difficult to understand suffering. Why has God used suffering as a tool to sanctify us? Could He have not used Oatmeal Cream Pies, so that the more Little Debbies you eat, the holier you become? I could get on board with that plan!


I think one reason that God chose suffering to make us more like Him was because there is nothing else that draws us deeper into him. There is nothing else that makes us rely solely upon Him. In our darkest moments and in the time we are experiencing our most excruciating pain is when we truly cry out for help and find that God has been with us all along. In the place of suffering is when we finally shed our pride and fully understand that apart from Jesus we are nothing.

What is absolutely crazy is that we don’t serve a God who has just arbitrarily placed this burden on us. He actually fully understands! Hebrews 5:8-9 says, “Although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…” (italics mine) In my deepest heartbreak, when I feel Jesus’ hand on my shoulder, I know it is a hand that has been nail-pierced.


Another reason for suffering is found in Colossians 1:24 where Paul said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for his body, that is, the church.” In the previous passage in Hebrews it says that through Jesus’ sufferings He was perfected. Paul is saying here that the plan has not been made complete. Jesus is perfect and has completed for us everything that is needed to be made righteous by dying on the cross in our place. However the plan to get this good news to a lost and dying world is not yet complete and will be completed through the suffering of His servants.

Paul didn’t say that he was begrudgingly and bitterly walking through suffering for the sake of the gospel. He said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings…” Paul considered it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ and His gospel.

Helen Roseveare

This past Monday evening at a class called Perspectives, our teacher, Jessie Smith, introduced us to a woman named Helen Roseveare. Helen was a missionary to the Congo 1953-1973. In 1964 a brutal civil war broke out where Helen along with other workers were captured. On October 29 of that year Helen was brutally beaten and raped by her captors. She later recounted: (taken from this article)

On that dreadful night, beaten and bruised, terrified and tormented, unutterably alone, I had felt at last God had failed me. Surely He could have stepped in earlier, surely things need not have gone that far. I had reached what seemed to be the ultimate depth of despairing nothingness.

In this darkness, however, she sensed the Lord saying to her:

You asked Me, when you were first converted, for the privilege of being a missionary. This is it. Don’t you want it? . . . These are not your sufferings. They’re Mine. All I ask of you is the loan of your body.

She eventually received an “overwhelming sense of privilege, that Almighty God would stoop to ask of me, a mere nobody in a forest clearing in the jungles of Africa, something He needed.”

This theme of “privilege” became prominent in Helen’s ministry. In her Urbana ’76 address, she said:

One word became unbelievably clear, and that word was privilege. He didn’t take away pain or cruelty or humiliation. No! It was all there, but now it was altogether different. It was with him, for him, in him. He was actually offering me the inestimable privilege of sharing in some little way the edge of the fellowship of his suffering.

In the weeks of imprisonment that followed and in the subsequent years of continued service, looking back, one has tried to “count the cost,” but I find it all swallowed up in privilege. The cost suddenly seems very small and transient in the greatness and permanence of the privilege.

I heard Helen’s story, and I found myself utterly lacking. God, give me the courage and faith to see my suffering as a privilege to carry your message of love to a dying world.

Take a look at this video. This is one of the last videos that Helen recorded before she passed away in 2016 at the age of 91.

Free Burma Rangers

26 02 2020

A few weeks ago, I saw a Christian documentary advertised on Facebook called Free Burma Rangers. I clicked over to the trailer and thought it looked like it would be good to go see. I went ahead and bought my family tickets.

Last night we went to see this movie. Little did I know I would see the most impactful and powerful film I have ever seen.

I cannot wait until this film is released so I can show it to everyone!

After the documentary was over I just wanted to sit there. Later, my wife asked me what I thought, and I couldn’t speak. I am still trying to process what I just saw.

The Story

In short, this is a story about a family who serve in Burma to show and share the love of Jesus with the ethnic minorities who are facing a genocidal government in a decades-long civil war. In the process, many of these tribal people have stepped forward to help.

Out of this group, they have formed the Free Burma Rangers. This group provides help in the form of medical care and spiritual support to those who have been displaced and targeted by the Burmese government. They also video document everything in order to get the word out about the atrocities that are occurring.

They have also been invited to serve in similar capacities in Iraq, Syria, and Sudan.

The Faith

This is what blew me away. After facing some of the most horrible things, this family continues to place their faith in Jesus and love people unconditionally. They didn’t just talk about it. They did it.

We have churches full of people who talk a good game but really do very little for the Kingdom. This is what I struggle with personally. Am I just spinning my wheels trying to mobilize people for missions, or do I head to the frontlines myself? When it comes down to it, am I all talk, too?

I know that one day I will stand before Jesus and give an account. What will I have to show for this one life I have to live?

A Fig Tree

This morning I was reading Luke 13 and came across this passage…

Luke 13:6-9

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. He told the vineyard worker, ‘Listen, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it even waste the soil?’

“But he replied to him, ‘Sir, leave it this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. Perhaps it will produce fruit next year, but if not, you can cut it down.’”

I am wondering if I am like that fig tree that hasn’t produced any fruit in years. As far as Kingdom work, am I only fit to be cut down for kindling? Am I wasting soil?

My heart has always been that I would be the most effective I can be for God’s Kingdom in this short life I have left to live. I am now left wondering if those are just words. I am realizing that my heart and life lack real faith.

My prayer is that God would leave me for another year, dig around me, and fertilize me to give me another chance to produce fruit.

Next Step

After watching this film, I am inspired to do something. I am still processing, and I’m not sure what that something is, but I do know that it would be a sin for me to do nothing.

When talking about faith, I always think back to the scene in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade where he had to take a leap of faith. Indie was prepared to launch himself out into the unknown only to realize that it was just one small step.

I think in many cases faith is not necessarily the crazy leap off the cliff, but it is the daily, weekly, and even monthly small steps that we take to follow Jesus into an unknown yet fruitful future.


Watch this documentary! It just might be this generation’s End Of The Spear. The story of Jim Elliot and his team mobilized thousands for missions and continues until this day. I feel like Free Burma Rangers can have the same impact.

Support: 7 Ways To Send Well

13 02 2020

In most churches, when missions is talked about, 3 things are asked of you: Pray, Give, & Go. It is no surprise, then, that most individuals and churches are not good senders. Praying and giving are very important and a part of sending, but not the only part.

Romans 10:15a says, “And how can they preach unless they are sent?” This is asked rhetorically by Paul to emphasize the importance of sending. It also legitimizes sending. Many people mistakenly think that the ones who go on the mission field are the super saints, while those left behind are second-class Christians. This could not be further from the truth!

Sending is just as important as going. And, if this is the case, our senders need to be given just as much priority in training and resourcing as our missionaries. Too often, though, our missionaries are sent to the field with an inadequately trained and small sending team.

7 Ways To Send Well

  1. Pray: Ephesians 6 talks about how we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Our missionaries and church planters happen to be the ones in different geographical locations, but, if this is truly a spiritual event, senders can literally engage in the battle from home. A sender can fight the spiritual battle on behalf of the person on the field. How awesome is this! We can not only fight, but, as a result, share in the harvest celebration knowing that we played a part.
  2. Give: Planting churches and cross-cultural missions are expensive endeavors. Christians are needed to give to help fund these things. However, donating a little extra money is not the only way a sender can resource our missionaries and church planters. You could restructure your life and budget to be able to give sacrificially. You could use your gifts and talents to start a business to fund missions. You could use your resources to invest in opportunities that yield dividends that go to fund missions. The point is that we are pretty good at creatively thinking of ways to get the gospel to an unreached people group, but we tend to stop thinking creatively when it comes to funding the venture.
  3. Communicate: Speaking from experience, there is nothing quite like opening your email or, especially, your post office box in a distant country and finding a note of encouragement. As a sender, we ought to be writing our missionaries and church planters continually. Write them Scripture. Write them what you are praying. Write them about what God is doing in your life. Of course, we need to be sensitive to security issues when sending written communication, but a good sender simply figures that out and gets on with writing. You can also jump on FaceTime or Skype or any of a number of conferencing apps and talk face-to-face with them.
  4. Respond: I know that a response is communication and could have gone in the above category. But I felt like this one deserves its own. Many of our church planters and missionaries spend a lot of time each month preparing an e-newsletter. I believe that most people receive that email, give it a cursory glance, and forget about it. We can do better! Commit now with me that when you open that newsletter you will read every word and immediately hit the reply button to send them a response. When you respond, be sure to use their secure language. For instance, if they write “lift up” in the place of “pray,” use the wording they use. Don’t just respond with a thanks for sending the newsletter. That’s better than nothing, but instead write them back concerning the things they are concerned with in their newsletter. I remember spending hours putting together a newsletter, sending it to hundreds of people, and not hearing a word from anyone. I didn’t even know if people were getting it. It was very discouraging.
  5. Advocate: To advocate for something is to publicly support and recommend a cause. What better cause is there than to support our missionaries and church planters?! A great way to think about your role as a sender is that you are the go-between for missionaries and their sending churches. Take every opportunity that you can to advocate for your sent ones. There are a million different ways to do this. Here are a few ideas to get you started… set up an informational booth in your church to educate people about the partnership, host a dinner and prayer meeting at your home to specifically pray for your sent one, moderate a private Facebook page dedicated to supporting your partners, take your pastor to lunch and inform him about the partnership, pass out your partnership’s prayer cards like they are candy, etc.
  6. Visit: Go visit your missionary or church planter. When we lived in Tanzania, we loved it when people came for a visit. Our boys could not wait until our volunteer teams arrived. Don’t go expecting the missionary or church planter to prepare a ton of ministry opportunities for you. There is a time and place for that kind of trip. On this trip, your job is to go and be an encouragement for your sent ones. Take them stuff they need. Play board games with their kids. Watch the kids so mom and dad can go on a date. Take the ladies to get their nails done. Take them to a favorite restaurant. In short, love on them! That’s it! I promise that a trip like this will give your missionary or church planter a boost that will keep them on the field longer, and, in turn, that will increase the work!
  7. Send: Send other folks to go, both short-term and long-term. Be a travel agent for your missionary or church planter to get other people to go and serve on their team. Take some time and pray about who to ask. Make a list of names. Then invite these individuals to a personal meeting, buy them a cup of coffee, and ask them if they ever considered going. You will be surprised! I have found that God is still in the business of working in people. Sometimes all it takes is the ask.

Lonely Christmas

23 12 2019

I still remember back in 2009 during Christmas how my family and I were stuck in Nairobi, Kenya, getting some medical stuff done. We were in the Baptist Guest House there, and although it is very nice accommodations, we had none of our Christmas decorations. We were living out of our bags. We were worried about our son who was having difficulty speaking. We were a long ways away from our home in Tanzania, and we were a long ways away from our family.

We certainly made the most of the time. We had wonderful friends there. Our two older boys made a construction paper Christmas tree that we hung on the wall and decorated. In all of the fun that we had, though, there was still a sense of loneliness.

This experience has made me more sensitive to the needs of our missionaries living overseas. We have families serving in some of the hardest places on earth, and even though they will make the most of the holiday season, they will still miss their family and friends. They will still miss the “stuff” that surrounds Christmas.

I remember missing the food that my mom makes. I remember missing getting to see all of my cousins and grandparents. I remember missing watching The Christmas Story over and over again and laughing at the same places.

This season for our missionaries is a time of conflicting emotions. They feel very called to be where they are, and at the same time many of them long for home. They have chosen to leave their home, friends, and family to follow where God has led them, but during this season, especially, they are keenly aware that leaving everything has consequences.

It can be very difficult for our missionaries to celebrate Christmas while living among a people group where very few, if any, even believe in Jesus.

As a result of all these things put together, many of our missionaries experience a real sense of loneliness during this season.

5 Things That You Can Do To Love Our Missionaries Well During The Christmas Season

  1. Pray for them – This may seem like the pat answer to everything, but it is only that to those who don’t believe in the power of prayer. Pray that our missionaries will experience a wonderful Christmas sensing God’s presence in everything they do.
  2. Email them – Send a missionary you know an email on Christmas morning. If they live on the other side of the globe, this will mean they will still get it on Christmas. Write some encouraging words. Let them know that you are praying for them. Give them a short update on what you are doing for Christmas and ask them what they did.
  3. Skype them – Most of our missionaries have the ability to Skype. Skype them in for a few minutes on Christmas morning just to say, “Merry Christmas!” You might even gather a group up and sing a Christmas carol for them!
  4. Remember their families still at home – Reach out to their families that are not with them to let them know that you are praying for their loved ones who are serving God in another country. Encourage them that you are praying for them as well.
  5. Send them something – Most missionaries can receive at least small things in the mail. Find out their mailing address and send them something. Anything is appreciated! You might send them a new movie or some hot cocoa packets or just some handwritten notes. Make sure you ask them about sending something. Sometimes customs charges our missionaries to pick up a package. This is fine as long as you cover that expense, too.

Don’t forget our missionaries this Christmas season. Have an incredible time with your family, but know that you can really make someone else’s Christmas special by doing one or two simple things.

Don’t Be A Hirpler

16 12 2019

I was reading Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost For His Highest” this morning, and I learned a new word: hirpler.

hirpler \ hirˈ plər \: one who walks with a limp or hobbles

Chambers wrote, “Always distinguish between God’s order and His permissive will… God’s order is unchangeable; His permissive will is that with which we must wrestle before Him.

Hebrews 11:21 speaks of Jacob… By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

Jacob seems to be best known as the guy who wrestled with God. The story is told in Genesis 32 that Jacob was about to meet his brother, whom he had deceived in the past, and he was terrified that Esau was going to kill him.

Jacob decides to spend the night alone and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. This man decides that Jacob is not going to stop, so he strikes his hip and dislocates it. I believe that at this point Jacob realizes that this is not just a mere man, but he still refuses to let go until this “man” blesses him.

The “man,” who Jacob now recognizes is God, changes his name to Israel, which means “he who struggles with God.”

I have always heard people teach that Jacob wrestling with God was a good thing. Certainly, good came out of it! God did bless Jacob for at least holding on, but I don’t think it was God’s perfect will (order) that he had to dislocate his hip to get to that point.

It is not God’s desire that we wrestle with Him. We are called to immediately submit to Him.

Jacob’s leaning on the top of his staff was not a badge of honor as some may think, but a sign that he had struggled with God’s plan for His life and not submitted to His will.

There are definitely times that we have to learn the hard way, but it is not God’s desire that we become a hirpler because of Him. We may end up limping spiritually because of things that have happened to us as a result of this fallen world, however we should never have to hobble around because we chose not to submit to God.

We should wrestle against sin in our life. We should wrestle in prayer for the lost. We should wrestle over our specific calling. We should never wrestle with God.

Jesus has commanded us to go and make disciples. That is His perfect will or order. As a follower of Jesus, we don’t wrestle against that command. We might wrestle in prayer over how and where we should complete this command, but we should not struggle against actually doing it.

God will dislocate my hip if I continue to wrestle with Him because He loves me. He will get His way and His glory with or without me, but His desire is to use me, as unworthy as I am. My prayer is that I can just simply follow him with open hands of submission without having to become a hirpler!


9 12 2019

And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak.
2 Corinthians 4:13

Many churches and even many Christians do a good job of serving their communities. They host floats in the annual Christmas parade. They provide canned foods at Thanksgiving. They serve food at homeless shelters. Etc. Etc. Etc.

All of these things are good things! We should not stop doing these very worthy events to serve and better our communities.

But (you knew there was a “but” coming) in the absence of a declaration of the Gospel, our churches are no different than any other philanthropic organization.

There is a reason the Church in America continues to decline. There is a reason that my denomination (Southern Baptist) continues to see a decrease in baptisms and an increase in churches closing their doors. That reason is simply that we are not seeing new people choose to follow Jesus. God’s plan to get the Gospel to others is for us to share that good news with others, and it is painfully obvious that the sharing is not happening.

Now, I am not saying that we only provide canned foods to someone if they will listen to a Gospel presentation. Or, we pass out Gospel tracts while we walk in the parade.

What I am saying is that we, as Believers, are, or at least should be, compelled to get to the Gospel at some point.

I see it as a very simple step-by-step formula…

  1. Good works
  2. Relationship
  3. Spiritual Conversation
  4. Gospel
  5. Holistic Ministry
  6. Effective Teaching

This formula equals disciple-making disciples!

Let me give you an example… While out serving at a community homeless shelter doing a good work, John, who is a Believer, meets Mike. Mike is not a Believer, but he sees a need to help the homeless community out. As they serve food together, John and Mike discover they work for the same large company, so they already have a lot in common. A friendship is built, and over the course of months John is able to talk about spiritual things with Mike. Mike even begins to ask his own questions as he sees how John works and treats his family with love and respect. Mike even starts to come to some of the church events! Eventually Mike asks what it means to be saved, and John is able to share the Gospel with him. He accepts Christ and begins attending John’s church where he and his family are ministered to and receive great teaching through sermons and John’s discipleship group. As a result, now Mike feels the need to begin sharing the Gospel with others.

I realize that it is never this cut and dry, but I hope this shows you how the formula is intended to work.

We tend to get messed up in three different ways.

  1. Picking One – This is what we talked about in the beginning. Most Christians might just choose to do good works and never move on to the other steps. Some churches say that they are just going to teach the Word. Some individuals have the spiritual gift of evangelism, and all they do is share the Gospel to get converts.
  2. Stopping – This is where we might do a good work and build a relationship with someone, but we never get to spiritual conversations or the Gospel. Or, we see someone come to faith in Christ, and we leave them be with no ministry or teaching.
  3. Lack of Training – This is where in any of these steps we mess up because we don’t fully understand it. For instance, standing up and lecturing a group is one way to teach, but is it effective? How many Believers can articulate a clear Gospel message?

If I were to pick where the US Church is weakest, I would say that the majority of Christians simply don’t share the Gospel. There is little passion for getting the Gospel to unbelievers, and there is little understanding of even how to share the Gospel if the heart was willing.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:13 that he believes so he speaks. It’s that simple. If we truly believe that sharing the Gospel could save someone from an eternity in Hell, then we speak.

Later in 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul says that the love of Christ compels him to share the Gospel. In light of what Jesus did for me, I have no other choice but to share it with others.

In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul says that we are ambassadors of reconciliation. It is simply our duty, and, if our Lord commands us, we do it. We are now, as a Believer, a new creation created with the one and only purpose to bring God glory by sharing the Gospel with those who are lost.

My prayer is that the Church will recapture its heart to see disciples made through the sharing of the Gospel message.

Busy. Busy. Busy.

2 12 2019

Normally, when someone would ask how I was doing, I would reply, “Busy.” I have recently been convicted of that. Maybe God could use my conviction to influence you towards a different stance as well.

I have realized that old habits are hard to break, so I still find myself replying with the word busy. When I do this and catch myself, I usually follow it up with something like, “It keeps me out of trouble,” or, “I’m really not that busy.”

When you hear a particular saying over and over again, you tend to forget the meaning. I have always heard it said that you are only as busy as you want to be. This is true, but we tend to forget. Our busyness or lack thereof is a choice.

We, also, have the choice of what to be busy about. After being in the ministry for over 25 years, I have found that most people choose everything else first over ministry or mission. If there is any margin left, well, that can be given to God.

There are two reasons why the busyness leftovers are given to the church and not the first fruits…

  1. Church leadership has failed to give good training, a compelling vision, and proper placement for ministry and mission. (equipping the saints for ministry)
  2. Christian individuals have failed to rise up and follow the God-given commands to ministry and mission. (disciple-making)

My conviction has come through me doing a study called Deepen Discipleship with a group of guys at the church. We have been reading through a book of the New Testament each week. Through this reading, among other things, I have realized that…

  • I am not busy. Paul was busy.
  • If I am busy, I’m not busy with things of eternal consequence.
  • I complain WAY too much.
  • In light of what Christ did for me and continues to do, I have no right to be busy with anything other than the things He calls me to.

These lessons may sound really simple, but it has been my personal experience and my experience working in professional ministry that most people, including me, still need to work on these things.

5 Practical Steps You Can Take To Solve The Busyness Problem

  1. Stop saying and believing that you are busy. Understand that busyness, in most cases, is a state of mind and not an actual reality. Busyness is also relative. Always hold up your life choices to the standard of the Bible.
  2. Practice gratitude. Every morning write down one thing that you are grateful for.
  3. Read God’s Word. Read the Bible every single day. This is how the Holy Spirit convicts and speaks to us.
  4. Prioritize your time. Take a hard look at your calendar (and the things not on the calendar) and see if it is filled with temporal things or eternal things. Make changes where necessary.
  5. Make disciples. This is why we, as Christians, were left on Planet Earth. You will find your greatest fulfillment in doing what God created you to do.

Where Are The Young Men?

18 11 2019

As a mission pastor, I get the incredible opportunity to speak to and spend time with many of our missionaries who serve with the International Mission Board. I just had coffee with an incredible man of God serving the Lord in a very difficult place in Southeast Asia.

Usually during any meeting that I have with a missionary, I try to ask them what their greatest needs are. I used to be surprised by the answer I received, but I have now gotten the same answer so many times that it now just saddens me.

When I asked this particular missionary from Southeast Asia what his greatest need is he answered that they need two young men to come and serve with them.

This is the same answer I get all the time now.

I know missionaries who have had open jobs for young men to fill for years now with absolutely no interest.

What is happening? Where are the young men? Why are we having such a difficult time finding young men who would be willing to go serve the Lord by being an international missionary?

This is not just happening internationally, but there is also a shortage of young men willing to plant churches here nationally or even being apart of a church planting team.

I certainly don’t know all of the reasons why young men are not answering the call to missions, but I am going to try list the ones I highly suspect.


  1. Disobedience – This might seem ridiculously obvious, but I think it needs to be said. Young ladies seem to be answering the call to go, and so I would suspect that God is calling the same amount of young men. If He is, these men are just simply disobeying that call. I certainly don’t believe that every young man is called to go as a missionary or a church planter, but many are!
  2. Lack of Awareness – This is our fault! If we are not teaching the Biblical commands to go, we will not see that fruit. If we are not intentionally making disciples, we will not see obedient disciples made. Our churches need to get serious about intentional disciple making, maybe especially among our boys and young men.
  3. Hindrances – Hebrews 12:1 tells us to cast off any hindrances. These are not necessarily sins in and of themselves. For instance, watching Netflix is not necessarily a sin. Binge watching that gets in the way of impacting the Kingdom of God is sin! Playing video games is not necessarily a sin, but playing them all the time could be. This could apply to almost anything good. We, as humans, have an uncanny ability to take what is good and turn it into something bad.
  4. Sin – Hebrews 12:1 tells us to also cast off sin. I think this verse also implies that we should cast off the feeling of being unworthy as a result of sin as well. The sins that I see as being most prevalent among our young men today are lack of integrity, lack of commitment, and poor time management. There is a reason for the relatively new stereotype of the 30 year old single male living in his parent’s basement.
  5. Pornography – Yes, this is a sin, but I believe it deserves a separate category. The Bible seems to also separate sexual sin into a different category (1 Corinthians 6:18). I first heard this proposed as a reason young men are not going as missionaries at a Passion Conference about 13 years ago in a sermon given by John Piper. It made perfect sense. The actual sin of watching and the corresponding guilt keeps many men unable to walk in the footsteps of Jesus in a day-to-day way, much less going overseas as a missionary. The accessibility of pornography through our phones has given our enemy a great tool to keep many young men from doing anything significant for God.
  6. The American Dream – Our culture and even many, well-meaning Christian parents propagate the myth of the American Dream that is to settle down into a good job with a good home and a nice family. The problem with this is that it is not Biblical. In conservative Christian circles we vehemently oppose the “health & wealth gospel,” yet at the same time we seem to live it and teach it to our children. When the only thing our children are asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” why are we surprised when they grow up selfish and entitled? We should be asking them what they think God wants them to do and supporting them in the way God leads them, even if it means that we must say goodbye to them as they board a plane for long-term missionary service in another country.


I believe the only solution is disciple making. Our parents need to do it first in the home. Our churches need to have intentional discipleship programs starting at an early age.

We need to get our young men into disciple making groups that hold each other accountable, teach them Biblical principles, and inspire them to charge the gates of Hell for the glory of God.

%d bloggers like this: