• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Celebrate Grace

While sitting with a group of believers, someone starts playing a worship song on the piano or guitar. They are just playing the music.  What happens next?  Those who know the words begin to softly sing along with the music. 

Peter, at the end of his first letter (1 Peter 5), shares some parting counsel with his readers.  Some of the words of wisdom stand out from the others: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you into his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm strengthen, and establish you.” (5:11)

Peter describes God as ‘the God of all grace’.  It’s interesting that he didn’t write: ‘the God of grace’, but the ‘God of all grace’ as if to underline that God’s very heart is one of abundant grace. 

All of us face difficulties and struggles in our work to see disciples raised up and communities of believers multiplied.  There are numerous obstacles such as our own pride, the hardened hearts of others, or just plain daily living. There is an enemy as well who seeks to wreak havoc in our lives and in the work in which we are engaged.

Peter’s counsel to his readers, and to us, is learn to celebrate the God of all grace.  Despite everything that may be happening around us, one thing does not change and will not change: God has placed His unending love on us and no one will ‘snatch us’ from His grip.

It’s always easy to say what I just wrote.  It’s quite another to lay hold of it each day, with our arms of faith.  Probably why we need to find ways to ‘tell ourselves the Good News’ again today, tomorrow, and each day this week.

A great way is by remembering or rehearsing the words to songs that put our hearts back on Christ.

Here’s a song I might suggest: Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me

What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer
There is no more for heaven now to give
He is my joy, my righteousness, and freedom
My steadfast love, my deep and boundless peace

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
For my life is wholly bound to His
Oh how strange and divine, I can sing: all is mine!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

Memorial service for John W

In Other Worlds bis

Four years ago, I posted this video to my blog (Thoughts Along the Journey).  It was an interview that I did with my good friend John (WT Canada and WT Papua alumnus) about the book he had written: In Other Worlds.

John went home to be with his Lord a little over a week ago.  Because the Lord taught me much through John and our many discussions together, I wanted to re-post this video.

‘Bis’ is the French word for ‘again’  So, I’m posting this blog again, if for nothing else then to give thanks to God for letting our paths cross and for the influence John had on my life (and the lives of many in World Team).

At the time I first posted this blog post, I wrote: “I so thoroughly enjoyed John’s book and found deep encouragement in it for us as cross cultural workers that I would like to offer a free hard copy to every World Team worker.”

Many took me up on that offer, but if you did not receive a copy and would still like to have one (we have 18 paperback copies remaining), please send a note to Cindy Optiz at global.coordinator@worldteam.org before April 5th.

Make sure you include the following information in your note:

  • Your first and last name
  • Your field
  • Your Sending Centre or partnering mission
  • Your postal address

Five Coins

As I was heading my way to the gathering of WT Asia leaders this week, I remembered an article that I had read.  The basic gist of the article was that in many conversations with other colleagues, we tend to talk way more than we listen to the others in the room.  The author stressed that robust dialogue and discussion come when we give a majority of our time to listening as opposed to speaking.  Listening serves as the critical context for responding (speaking) well to others.

Now, we recognize that this principle is a basic biblical truth: “Know this, my beloved brothers (and sisters): let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”  (James 1.19)  I think the problem for many of us is that we know this truth, but we’re not sure the best way to actually practice it.  Oftentimes, we’ll try to practice this truth by talking to ourselves into being a better listener: “You know, David, in this next meeting, you need to just listen more and not talk so much.”  Then we get into that next meeting, and before we know it, we’re speaking up the bulk of the time!

Now there are certainly a number of possible applications, and we know that the only way we will become a better listener is by the working of grace in our hearts.  However, the author of the article I read suggested an idea that might provide some fuel for the Spirit in our ‘training’.

Here’s the author’s simple recommendation:  imagine walking into a conversation or discussion with five (5) coins in your hand. Each coin represents one time where you inject your thoughts into a conversation.  When the five coins have been ‘used’, your ‘microphone’ is turned off.

Now I’m not saying we should slavishly practice this idea, but I will say it causes you to think more carefully about the words you think are so important to share at each and every moment in a conversation.  It also pushes you to listen well and try to better understand what the other is really saying before speaking.

I’m hoping by the end of this week, I (and each of us) will have ‘made some progress’ in listening well and speaking with more wisdom … by using our five coins well.

Calling

Rebecca and I have close friends that we have known since university days.  Nancy has always been prolific and insightful in her writings.  Monthly emails often contain what I call ‘spiritual gems’.  She has a way of capturing Christ in so much of what happens day to day, and then to use that image as a reminder of our need to ‘speak the Gospel to our hearts’ each day.

Let me quote from one of her emails titled: Calling

Of all the staggering Scriptures, the verse that most staggers me these days is Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” He was heard. Not saved from death, but heard. Isn’t that enough? To be heard by the God of the universe? If it was enough for Christ, how dare it not be enough for me?

At the recent Together for the Gospel conference, we wore these bands:

10,000 people wore the black bands allowing access to the conference. Far fewer people wore the white bands that allowed access to the speakers. How foolish we would have been to have this gift of access and not use it to get notes from and have conversations with the speakers so we could better serve the main participants!

We still have the bands, but we no longer have access to the speakers. I can’t ask John MacArthur what to say to the students about prayer. Chuck can’t ask John Piper about a thorny paragraph he is trying to translate for seminary. But God has given us better-than-white-bands: unlimited access to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)!

What thirsty person, tongue brittle as a leaf in drought, has access to a fountain of pure water but crawls past it? We have access to the life-giving fount, but pass by it if we skip or skimp on prayer.

At first I pondered why she gave the subject line as “calling”.  Then I realized that our calling is first and foremost to God (read Os Guinness, The Call, on that topic) and our main ‘access’ is by our conversation with the Father.

We might say, in other words, that our calling is to bring the nations of the world before the Father’s throne and plead with Him to work in us and through us that many might come to know the Messiah Jesus.

Just the start

Earlier this week, each of us as members of the World Team Global community received a copy of our global outcomes.  Global outcomes are those faith-stretching desires we as teams long to see God bring about through us.

There are three facts we should keep in mind about these global outcomes.

First, global outcomes are not just about numbers.  They are about people, relationships, heart desires, and the call God has placed upon us as a community to see a multiplying movement of disciples and communities.  Numbers push us to think beyond ourselves, and they are a way to cause us to recognize that to accomplish this God given vision will require God’s work in us and through us. 

Second, global outcomes implicate all of us.  Global outcomes are the fruit of discussions we have had with one another.  These are not just objectives for one part of our community.  They are outcomes that call for each of us to get involved in some way in seeing them become a reality. 

Finally, global outcomes are not something we are going to ‘put in a drawer and forget about’.  This effort is not a ‘one off’, but a long term team effort we trust will lead us to see God do even more among us and through us.  One member of the World Team Global Alliance (WTGA), when he first heard about the global outcomes, commented (with much passion) as to “how these outcomes would unite all of the World Team community (WT workers, staff, boards, and partners)!

However, we are just at the start.  Working our global outcomes means that we need to start now to more intentionally engage others with the Gospel.  It means that we need to begin now to prayer about and research those seven (7) new UPGs among whom we believe God desires us to work in 2021.  It means praying for one another now as new church starts begin each year (2019, 2020 & 2021); that these church starts would become viable communities of believers, capable of multiplying themselves.

Let us run the race together, keeping our eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of our faith!

Praying together

Praying together

So, what really happened during our World Team Day of Prayer last week?

Here are a few comments I received back from World Team Global members which I hope will encourage your hearts:

As Spain Team West gathered to pray together on Friday, we enjoyed praying for these 2 people groups and learning more about them. It enabled us to lift our eyes from our own endeavours and surroundings and contemplate others from very different cultures and the challenges of reaching them with the gospel. I sensed it was our privilege to pray for these people groups for God’s Spirit to break through so that others can know the deep love of God.”

We are going to Lorraine who, as you know, is wheelchair bound. It will be an encouragement for her to continue participating in this vital day. After the passing of her husband Paul into glory, our team has shrunk even more. Nevertheless, we carry on with the day of prayer and the work. First things first.”

It is always a special time when I pray for World Team ministries in other parts of the world.  I pray a lot for our WT Americas missionary team, for new people groups and new ministries, but less for other Areas’ needs.  Praying for the Cham and Dadjo opened a new window on what the Lord is doing in other parts of the world, and in a small way, to be a part of what He is doing.”

World Team Canada met for prayer ‘virtually’ and a fair sized group was surprised to have a member of Hook Evangelical Church (UK) join them and explain their church’s passion for the Dadjo and their commitment to pray for this people group for the past 10+ years!

So, what really happened?  I believe we united our hearts in prayer, for God to work in significant ways among the Dadjo and the Cham … and we did this ‘work’ together, all around the globe [a Doodle online calendar was a first start at seeing how we prayed together over the 24-48 hour time period].

Much thanks and gratitude for your participation!  However, let us not forget that this is only the start of the ‘marathon’ of prayer for these two people groups! Press on together!