• 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!

A Joyous Celebration of the Resurrection!

May this hymn of Isaac Watts refresh our hearts in the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection. He is risen!

Alas!  And did my Saviour bleed,

And did my Sovereign die!

Would he devote that sacred head

For such a worm as I!

Was it for crimes that I had done

He groaned upon the tree!

Amazing pity!  Grace unknown!

And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide,

And shut his glories in,

When Christ, the mighty Maker, died

For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face

While his dear cross appears;

Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,

And melt mine eyes in tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay

The debt of love I owe;

Here, Lord, I give myself away,

‘Tis all that I can do.

We live in community

In Philippians 2, we read these words: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” 

It’s a description of what transformed relationships within the community of Christ should look like, and what they should not look like.  It’s a picture of how the Gospel works itself out in practical ways in our community with one another.

Grumbling, murmuring or disputing are not to be characteristics of our relationships with one another. It’s what got the people of Israel in numerous difficulties, undermining their witness to the surrounding peoples and nations. 

We might contextualize grumbling, murmuring and disputing today as disagreeing constantly, seeking to be right in any discussion, or just plain ornery with others.

What strikes one in this text is that the apostle Paul tells only us the negative elements to put off.  Paul implies that by putting off, we would recognize, in Christ, what needs to be put on.

That pushes us a bit deeper to consider what is really at the root of grumbling, murmuring and disputing.  The biblical writers put their fingers on one of two possibilities: pride or unbelief.  It’s either our desire to be the master of our destiny as well as that of others or it’s our inability, our lack of assurance in God’s love for us, despite what often drives us.

One writer put it this way: “We cannot present a reason for Christ to finally close off his heart to his own sheep.  No such reason exists.  Every human friend has a limit.  If we offend enough, if the relationship gets damaged enough, if we betray enough times, we are cast out. The walls go up. With Christ, our sins and weaknesses are the very resumé items that qualify us to approach him.  Nothing but coming to him is required – first at conversion and a thousand times thereafter until we are with him upon death.

As Christ works in our hearts through the Gospel, we should become more and more sensitive to the impact of our words on others.  He will open our eyes for us to see more clearly the needs of others and how we, by our words and actions, can minister to other members of the community.

The one guiding principle to rule them all

Our World Team Ministry Framework outlines six (6) guiding principles which define how we go about our work; what is it that motivates us to multiply disciples and communities of believers.  The six (6) guiding principles are: the Gospel, prayer, facilitation, teams, holistic and incarnational.

Often I find myself thinking about and speaking of these guiding principles as if they are all of equal value.  In one sense, they need to be as they tell us what drives us in the work God has called us to do.  However, as I continue to daily reflect on the Gospel, I become more convinced that there is one guiding principle from which all the others flow out or are subsets of the one guiding principle.  I am more and more persuaded that there is one guiding principle to rule them all.

All of who we are and what we do arises from one central truth: we are accepted in Christ.  We are not our own, we belong to Him, and find ourselves now cherished members of His family.

This one guiding principle stands apart from all the others.  It is the foundation to which we hold and to which we must return each and every day.

Richard Lovelace put it best when he wrote: “Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in the quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.  In order for a pure and lasting work of spiritual renewal to take place with the church, multitudes within it must be led to build their lives on this foundation.

In order to give ourselves to prayer, facilitation, working in teams, serving in holistic ways and living incarnationally, we must soak our hearts in the words of the Gospel: “this is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”

I know that the analogy with the Lord of the Rings does not work well (the final ring of Mordor needing to be cast into the river of fire of Mordor), but Jesus Christ experienced the wrath and judgment of God in our place, so that we might be able to cry out: Abba Father; so that we might be able live and serve as an expression of our gratitude and thankfulness for His grace-full gift.

A question for each of us to consider: what aspect of the Gospel are you most needing to hear today, and that would strengthen your heart to live for Jesus?

Have you heard the story of Trey?

Have you heard the story of Trey?  That’s not his real name, but hopefully this story will be a reminder to each of us of the power of the Gospel to change a life. Slowly, deliberately, but surely.

Here’s how my friend shared the story with me.

I met Trey several years ago on a street in Chiang Mai. The Lord prompted me, for some reason, to speak to him. I invited him to have a coffee and we chatted for a while.  A few weeks later, we met again and at that point I invited Trey to come and visit our church. He wasn’t really interested.  He subsequently ‘dropped off my radar screen’. I prayed for him but didn’t run into him again for several years.

Then one day, there he was, walking down the same street again as I was. We grabbed a coffee together and caught up on what had happened since we last saw each other.  I later asked if he wanted to visit a cultural exposition that was being held in the coming weeks. He agreed to go with me.

As our friendship grew, I asked Trey if he might be interested in reading the Bible together – just reading it and discussing what we thought the Bible was trying to say to us.  He was willing, though it wasn’t an enthusiastic willingness.  And so, we started reading the Bible together.  

Then the pandemic hit, and we were forced to meet virtually on our cellphones.  In one of those virtual meetings, we read the passage from Mark 1:14-15.  As we talked about what it meant, Trey came to understand faith and repentance, and that day he gave his life to Jesus.

As we continued to meet, it was a joy to listen to Trey’s prayers: short but so simple and sincere. Trey started reading the Bible 5 minutes a week and praying for 5 minutes, then it became 15 minutes per day!  God was building into this new disciple!

I introduced Trey one day to another person in our community group. I thought it would help him to get to know other believers, and that he might be encouraged to join our community times.

Recently, Trey told me how he had talked with one of his co-workers about the Bible. They talked about what each thought the Bible passage meant!  I pray that Trey will become a disciple who makes disciples. He is certainly not done with ‘growing in Christ’. So, I (along with others in the community) keep praying and walking alongside him.

So, have you heard the story of Trey?  Hopefully this story has been be a reminder to each of us of the power of the Gospel to change a life. Slowly, deliberately, but surely.

I joined a movement

I often say that I am part of a mission. And that is completely true.

I also say that I belong to a grouping of churches which ‘sent out’ my family and I to serve Christ in another place, in another culture.  And that is true as well.

Recently though I am beginning to say that I am part of a movement.

Saying that is more than just an exercise in semantics. There is depth and commitment behind the truth that I belong to a movement.

A movement in simplest terms is a grouping of individuals or organisations who work together to advance their shared idea, activity, or ministry objective. Being part of a movement means we work collaboratively and collectively, and leverage all our resources together for the growth and development of the movement.

There is fluidity and flexibility to a movement in its outworking in different contexts.  There is loads of room for creativity and innovation.

Yet, something ties the movement members together.  There is alignment in mission and direction.  There is a willingness to lead, and there is a willingness to follow.

What ties the movement members together though is the desired outcome.  For us as WT movement members, it’s seeing multiplying groups of disciples and communities of believers among the lost

But the hardest step in staying in step with the movement is learning yield; to humbly give up what we may want or think is the (our) right way to do things, to serve the larger desire and outcome of the movement.

Why challenges don’t always work

Giving oneself (or a group) a challenge can be exciting.  The idea of ‘rising above’ one’s (or a team’s) current capacity creates a certain thirst or motivation to take on the challenge.  Cycling 150 kilometers for a humanitarian aid project, or learning a new language in order to communicate the Gospel with a neighbor or colleague from another culture, or praying for a daily or weekly spiritual conversation would all qualify as possible ways to push ourselves to ‘exercise’ and work beyond where we currently find ourselves.  

However, any challenge can quickly lose steam and interest as other important priorities (or simply daily life concerns) come along to sap the effort needed to daily take on a given challenge.

You may remember that two years ago, we launched the 1+1 Challenge.  It was an encouragement for each of us to pray towards leading one person into a relationship with Jesus, and journey with one person towards cross cultural missions.  If you were like me, you started well, but the motivation slowly dissipated as time went by and other things got in the way.

Now there is nothing wrong with the many other objectives of our lives and ministries taking priority over current challenges. What intrigues me though is why I (and perhaps you) can be quick to accept a challenge, launch out, but then slowly lose the motivation to continue.

There it is.  It’s ultimately a question of ‘motivation’.  In other words, is this challenge something God is calling me and us to participate in?  And if so, where am I (we) going to find the drive to pursue any given challenge?   

For us, this is where grace and the Gospel comes in.  Chalmers called it: ‘the expulsive power of a new affection’.  Only when we are deeply aware, overwhelmed you might say, by the deep, constant, and eternal love of God for each one of us could we find the intrinsic motivation needed to pursue His challenges for us. Only when His compassion and mercy demonstrated to us is able to displace what currently holds sway in our hearts, can we find the strength and courage to do what He calls us, what He challenges us to do.

Probably the greatest being that in whatever do, we do all to the glory of God.