Author Archives: Mark

What Is An Attitude Of Significance?

An attitude of significance is a way of life that finds purpose and meaning in God and His will for our lives. It’s when we realize our importance isn’t rooted in what we have accomplished but in the importance that God gives us because He loves us and in what Jesus has already accomplished for us. As a result we allow God’s purpose to rule in our lives and become set free from attitudes insecurity, inadequacy and inferiority.
Ecclesiastes 3:11; James 1:18; Proverbs 16:4

Our Identity, Meaning, Purpose And Destiny Are All Found In God

  • Significance is the state or quality of being important and worthy to merit attention. It means that you are noteworthy. As believers, this significance is directly connected to knowing and making Jesus known. Feeling significance is hard because we mistakenly try to become significant through the wrong “stimulus” such as our achievements or we had a hard life and were told that we are not significant and believe the lie that we aren’t important. The truth is you are already significant. To realize this significance you need to know your purpose in life—the reason you exist. Therefore, an “attitude of significance” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our purpose and importance in Him and enables us to live for the purpose that we were created for.
  • You are already significance because God is your Creator. You were not an unfortunate accident, an unexpected happening, or unintentional life. You bear the image of God because you were made in His image. God knew you before you were born. God brought you into existence. God is the source of your life. He knew your body type, your skin color, your gender and yet you were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are awesome. God wanted you to be born. He knows the what, when, where, how, and why of your life. He even knows all your days—how long you are going to live. And He brought you into existence for a reason or a purpose: to know and glorify Him.
    Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 139:13-16; Acts 17:25-28; Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11
  • You were made for a purpose and this purpose means you are significant. God made you to love you. God loves you. He loves you so much that He did everything to restore you to Himself—so you could know Him. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He showed us His love. He even chose to love us before the foundation of the world. It has been His plan the whole time. You were created to be loved by God. He wanted us to be part of His family. All of this was done in accordance with His good pleasure and will for the glory of God.
    John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 1:4-6

To Allow God’s Purpose To Rule Your Life

  • God wants you to know Jesus. The work of God is to believe in Jesus who was sent by God to save us. The one way we can know the only true God is through Jesus. By knowing Him we receive eternal life. This means we are eternally significant. We enter into a relationship with God through Jesus and this relationship is eternal. We are to grow in knowing Jesus with every passing day. We joyfully live for the glory of Jesus’ name.
    John 6:29; John 17:3; 2 Peter 3:18
  • God wants us to make Jesus known. We are given great significance, but not to live for ourselves. We are to live for Jesus—the one who loves us and gave Himself for us. We are to be salt and light to the world—meaning letting the world see our good works and glorify God as a result of it. We are to preach Jesus’ love to every person. We are to boldly proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
    Galatians 2:20; Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 1:27-29; Ephesians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 2:9-10

To Overcome Attitudes Of Insecurity, Inadequacy And Inferiority

  • As believers who have received the light that Jesus has given us, we need to understand what the will of the Lord is so that we can make the most of our time here on earth. God’s will concerning our significance includes establishing a biblical, healthy and secure self-worth, image or concept—how we think about ourselves. This includes three main areas that need to be brought into submission with the bible.
    Ephesians 5:14-17
  • (1) Acceptance—accept yourself but reject conceit and boasting. We need to humbly accept certain aspects about ourselves that are predetermined before we were born that we cannot change—whether good or bad. David did this by consenting that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by a marvellous God. We should agree with David. We also need to consent that we sinned against God and only through His marvelous grace are we saved. This acceptance leads to boasting not in ourselves but in the triune God—Father, Son, Spirit.
    Psalm 139:14; Jeremiah 9:23; Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Romans 12:16
  • (2) Love—love yourself but reject selfishness. We need to humbly love our souls which were created eternally to be loved and to love. (For how can you hate what God loves?). Naturally, a person loves himself and chooses to nourish and cherish their own bodies. As believers, we are to love ourselves in the sense that we see ourselves the same way that God does and to know that we are significant. But this love is never to become self-centered. We should never seek self-love directly, but instead know the best way to gain love for our souls is to love God and love others. The Bible warns of those that are “lovers of their own selves”—which is self love characterized by affections concerned chiefly with self or self-worship. This is wrong and should be rejected. The result of truly loving ourselves is always outward focused and not inward. To love yourself is to be secure in Jesus’ love.
    Ephesians 5:28-33; Matthew 22:39; 1 John 5:1; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 13:4-6; James 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:2
  • (3) Esteem—esteem yourself but reject pride. We need to have confidence in the fact that we are valuable to God and He wants to use our lives for His honor and glory. Paul had this confidence and knew that he was “apprehended of Christ Jesus” to be conformed into His image. He knew that he wasn’t already perfect like Christ. But He pressed on toward this mark or goal by “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before”—meaning he didn’t let past failures, sins, insecurities or successes and achievements become roadblocks from him pursing Jesus and becoming like Him. We labour and aim to be accepted of Jesus. What in your past is holding you back?
    Philippians 3:12-16; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Review Questions

  • Why are we already significant?
  • What is God’s purpose for our life and what should we let it do?
  • God wants you to know who?
  • God wants us to make who known?
  • What are the three main areas of biblical, healthy and secure self-worth?

What Is An Attitude Of Contentment?

An attitude of contentment is a way of life that focuses on being satisfied and happy in God and with what He has provided for us. Great gain doesn’t come from material possessions or from great positions of fame or authority but from godliness and contentment. Thus we are to learn to be content in whatever situation and with whatever we have through Jesus who strengthens us. Thus we are set free from covetousness, discontentment and materialism.

Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain

  • Contentment is the state of being satisfied and happy with your situation in life. As believers, this contentment is directly connected to being satisfied and happy in God’s provision. Contentment for many is hard because we mistakenly believe contentment is a future product of a certain goal (when I make more money, when I get married, when we have children) instead of an acceptance of our current circumstance with an unwavering faith in God. Therefore, an “attitude of contentment” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses satisfaction and happiness in Him and extends to His provision for our lives no matter if it is much or little.
  • Contentment with godliness is great gain. The desire for “great gain” is not wrong, but there is a biblical formula about how we are to obtain it. First, we need: “godliness”—this means that we have the right beliefs about God (from the Bible) and serve Him in response to these beliefs. It means that we have an active spiritual life that is growing more in love with Jesus every day and that we are being transformed through the Holy Spirit’s sanctification in our lives. We are devoted to God and seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. Hopefully, this describes all Christians. But there is a second part to the formula, we need: “contentment”—this means you are satisfied with what you have and that it is sufficient. But what if we don’t have a lot? What is the minimum we should be content with? Paul answers this question saying that if we have “food and raiment” (clothes that cover our body and maybe extends to a place to stay that covers us for protection) we should be content. This gives us great perspective and shows us that material possessions are not the key to happiness.
    1 Timothy 6:6-9; Matthew 6:25-34
  • Contentment also means we are living for something and Someone greater. (1) Paul’s states that: “we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” This gives us an eternal perspective and makes living for earthly gain (money, possessions, achievements, spouse, family, power, position) foolish because we can’t take them with us. As believers, our “something” is laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven because we know those are true eternal rewards. (2) Matthew states that: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money).” This means that we can ultimately only truly live for one thing or one person. There is only one thing or person that motivates you to do what you do and that you give your time, talents and treasure to. It has your heart. As believers, our “Someone” is God. Our sufficiency is of God. He is able to make all grace abound toward us so that in all things at all times, having all sufficiency (having all that we need), we may abound to every good work. God and His sufficiency is the foundation for being content.
    1 Timothy 6:7; Matthew 6:19-24; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 9:8
  • Contentment is not loving money, and gaining more of it does not bring contentment. Those who “desire to be rich” fall into temptation, a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires (lusts), which plunge and drown people in destruction (ruin) and perdition (destruction). This is the opposite of being content—this is discontentment with their current situation and going after money as the thing that will fix all their problems. Instead, it traps people and keep them from being content and often pushes them away from godliness. Many people want to serve God but they have fallen into the “trap of desiring to be rich” and live their lives “trapped”. As believers, we need to understand that the love of money (or any material possession) is the root of all kinds of evil. Because of this even believers who have coveted after money have wandered away (erred) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows, griefs, and pangs.
    1 Timothy 6:9-10

To Be Content In Whatever Situation And With Whatever We Have

  • Contentment is learning to be content with whatever your circumstances are. It means that we know both how to be in need (abased, hungry, to be worse off), and how to have plenty (abound, well fed, to be better off). Paul learned the secret of being content is to be content in any and every situation. This means that there is nothing wrong with prosperity or poverty, but we shouldn’t seek or desire either one (or any stage in-between) to find contentment. Both have their own challenges and difficulties. The secret is to be content with your current situation and not the next stage of life. But we don’t have to do this on our own, for we do all things through Jesus who strengthens and enables us.
    Philippians 4:11-13, 19; Luke 3:12-14
  • Contentment is learning to be content with what you have. We can do this because we have a wonderful promise from God who said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God is always with us no matter our financial situation. He cares for us. We choose to live right and according to His purposes and not according to the world or culture around us. Based on this promise we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We trust God in all situations (financial, persecution, daily living, etc.) (Note: In verse 4 it says, “Marriage is honourable in all”—thus we should also be content with our marriage and spouse, keeping the bed undefiled, not seeking another.)
    Hebrews 13:5-6 (4); (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 118:6)

To Overcome Covetousness, Discontentment And Materialism

  • We become discontent when we don’t keep our lives from covetousness. Covetousness is the love of money; it is the unrestrained desire for acquiring wealth; it is the attitude that wants more and more. It is the great longing or craving for something that will cause you or others harm (often irresponsible or thoughtless). It is to wish for something or someone that is not rightful for you to wish for (especially that which is another person’s). It is wanting something or someone that is incorrect to want; or wanting it for an impure reason; or wanting it at an inappropriate time; or wanting an immoral amount of it; or it is yielding to any of these—wether in thought by dwelling on it or by acting upon them. We are to keep our lives free from covetousness.
    Hebrews 13:5; Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21
  • We covet when we don’t control our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. We allow ourselves to compare our situation to that of another or to what they have, and if it is perceived to be better than what we have it leads to envy or jealousy. This then leads to resentment or hatred towards others or even God because others are better off than you or their situation has turned out better than yours. This ultimately is selfishness—lacking concern for others and their success and chiefly concerned about yourself and your success.
    2 Corinthians 10:12; (Israel is an example of a covetous people in Numbers 11:4-35)
  • We are to mortify (put to death) whatever belongs to our earthly nature and this includes “covetousness” because it is idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of an object (material or immaterial) in the place of the one and true God. This is what happens when we live a covetous life—we are worshipping the idol of materialism—meaning that material possessions, physical comforts, or trying to live our “best life now” is the most important. It is an idol of the heart that expresses itself through the way we live. Serving God has been replaced with the business of trying to acquire more. The cycle never ends because once you get “enough” it isn’t enough and you continue to strive to gain more. As believers, we can overcome this by telling ourselves and believing that, “In Christ, I have enough” and if riches increase we will not set our heart upon them, but continue to declare, “In Christ, I have enough!”
    Colossians 3:5-7; Philippians 2:3; Galatians 2:20; Romans 12:3; Psalm 62:10

Review Questions

  • Godliness with what is great gain?
  • Contentment is learning to be what?
  • Contentment also means we are living what? Who?
  • We become discontent when don’t keep our lives from what?
  • We can overcome covetousness by telling ourselves and believing what?

What Is An Attitude Of Gentleness?

An attitude of gentleness is a way of life that focuses on being kind and caring towards others because of God’s great kindness and love towards us. We learn to be focused on how we are treating others in spite of how they are treating us. This helps us overcome harshness, unkindness and critical spirits that so easily besets us.

Gentleness Is A Fruit To Be Produced, A Command To Be Obeyed

  • Gentleness is a manner or quality of being meek, kind, gentle, friendly, generous, considerate, mild-tempered, compassionate and merciful. Gentleness and meekness are often paired together and/or used interchangeably. Meekness is humble and gentle submission. It also represents the inward attitude that learns to properly (by Jesus’ example) accept unfair, unkind or unreasonable treatment from others without becoming bitter and angry. Gentleness then is the outworking of this meekness and includes extending mercy or leniency towards those who are undeserving. Therefore, an “attitude of gentleness” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses His kindness and love—thus showing forth and being rooted in the fact that we are the elect of God, holy and beloved.
    2 Corinthians 10:1; Colossians 3:12
  • Gentleness (and meekness) is a fruit to be produced—the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes “gentleness” and against such there is no law. Naturally, it is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us and treat us in a good manner. But, spiritually, this gentleness means that no matter how others treat us, we choose to treat others with gentleness—tenderness, warmheartedness kindness, compassion. Thus, the Holy Spirit produces in us a gentleness of a new quality—one that strives to have an attitude of kindness and love for all men without reservation.
    Galatians 5:22-23
  • Gentleness (and meekness) is a command to be obeyed—we are commanded to be gentle and to show all meekness to all people. This literally means that we are given an order to be kind and tender to everyone. As servants of Jesus (church leaders or anyone who is preaching the gospel) we should not be characterized by quarreling (striving) but by being gentle and kind to everyone. Even if others want to fight orally, we don’t participate but gently deal with them hoping that God will save them. We are to flee all kinds of evil, but gentleness (and meekness) is to be pursued. As the elect of God, we are to “put on” gentleness (and meekness) which helps us to forbear and forgive one another even as Christ forgave us.
    2 Timothy 2:24-26; Titus 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 6:11; Colossians 3:12-13; (1 Timothy 3:3, patient/lenient)

To Be Focused On How You Are Treating Others, Not Vice Verse

  • To not be focused on how others are treating you—Paul, Timothy and Silas suffered, were shamefully entreated (treated) and spoke the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict, but they didn’t focus on how they were treated by others. From a worldly perspective, they had many reason to become bitter, unkind, and angry people. But they kept their attitude in check by making sure they were focused on their personal motives—to please God—and that they were being faithful to God who entrusted them with the gospel.
    1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
  • To be focused on how you are treating others—Paul, Timothy and Silas exemplified sincere “gentleness” towards the church at Thessalonica in spite of how others treated them. This gentleness has several characteristics: (1) Tenderness and affection—Paul says their gentleness towards them was “even as a nurse cherisheth her children”—meaning that a nursing mother tenderly and affectionally takes care of her own children. A baby is needy and seemingly ungrateful but the mother is patient and tender towards it. (2) Forgoing rights and privileges—as the apostles of Christ they could have made demands for a certain type of recognition (glory) or to be supported financially by the church, but they didn’t. (3) Pure motives—they weren’t being gentle so that they could trick them with flattering words or covetousness. God knows our motives and God is the true witness to the motivation behind why we treat people in the way we do. Are your motivations pure before God? (4) Genuine Care—they were affectionately desirous—meaning they strongly desired or longed for the Thessalonica believers—they had become very dear to them. This means that they genuinely cared about people. They were ready and willing to share the gospel with them, but also to share themselves (their own souls). They were willing and very glad to spend and be spent for them. They didn’t come to seek what was theirs but to seek “them”. (5) Holy, righteous and blameless behavior—gentleness isn’t weakness but it is firmness—like a godly father with his children who exhorts, comforts, and charges them to walk in a manner worthy of God.
    1 Thessalonians 2:5-12; 2 Corinthians 12:14-15

To Overcome Harshness, Unkindness And A Critical Spirit

  • Harshness, unkindness and critical spirits should not be characteristic of believers. This means that we might need to change the manner in which we communicate and act with others. Criticism is expressing disapproval because of faults or mistakes and serves to tear down and not build up. This is often rooted in the inward sins of pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy or jealousy. Sometimes it is intentional, others times it’s not, but as believers we are to be intentional how we treat others—with love. If another believer needs to be restored, it is to be done in the spirit of meekness (gentleness).
    Ephesians 4:1-3; 15-16; Galatians 5:14-15; 6:1-5; (Wrong Judgement: Matthew 7:1-6; Right Judgement: John 7:24)
  • Meekness (gentleness) of wisdom comes from above—we need to ask God to give us wisdom. This wisdom effects what kind of person we are and how we treat others. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason (easy to be intreated), full of mercy and good fruits, impartial (without partiality), and sincere (without hypocrisy). This leads to “peace making” and the fruit of righteousness. We need this wisdom from above to overcome our “earthly wisdom” which is characterized by bitter envying (jealousy) and strife (selfish ambition) in our hearts. This leads to confusion (disorder) and every evil work. This is  earthly, sensual and devilish. As believers, this should not describe us, we don’t allow the wrong kind of thoughts to dwell in our hearts. We need God’s wisdom.
    James 1:5; 3:13-18
  • We are not to speak evil of anyone. We are to avoid quarreling (to be no brawlers). We are not to let corrupt communication or cursing come out of our mouths. We are to eliminate all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (shouting), and evil speaking (slander), and all malice. We are to replace this with gentleness and showing all meekness. We are to start speaking things that bless, that are good, that edify and that ministers grace unto the hearers. We are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us.
    Titus 3:2; James 3:5-12; Ephesians 4:29-32

Review Questions

  • Gentleness is a manner or quality of being what?
  • What does it mean that gentleness is a fruit to be produced?
  • What does it mean that gentleness is a command to be obeyed?
  • What does it mean to be focused on how you are treating others?
  • To have a gentle attitude we need to overcome what?

Starting A Conversation, Missions

This week I had the privilege to attend and teach a session at the Our Generation Pastors Conference hosted by our home church, Vision Baptist Church. It and other events have reminded me about the much-needed conversation that we need to have about missions.

As Independent Baptist, we are blessed with a network that desires to reach the world by planting churches. I pray that we keep this focus on global church planting going forward.

But there is room for growth and to refocus. Some churches are working hard at the great commission, some are complacent, some never got involved, others are just too busy. Thus, its time we have a conversation. Or continue the conversation. Not argue and fight, but see what more we can do together to get the gospel to the world. Here are the posts that I have been writing that I hope helps contribute to this conversation.

More to come, Lord willing.

Revitalizing Missions. Renewing A Passion For World Evangelism!

Here is the current situation.

Some churches are just focused on preserving themselves. Others are willing to slowly cease to exist in an effort to resist any kind of change. But there also has been a recent push to revitalize churches…meaning to help churches that are struggling to get new life again and become a healthy local church once again. There has also been a push for church planting in the USA…mainly because churches are dying, new areas are changing because of business shifts, culture changes, etc. And for the most part, church revitalization and planting is good. I wholeheartedly support church planting in America and helping struggling churches become thriving churches again.

But there is a problem.

I do see a problem within our Independent Baptist movement. While we are focused on holding on to the old paths, replanting churches or planting new churches in the fastest growing parts of our towns, there are thousands if not millions dying around the world without ever having a church planted among them. The thought of the lost, dying, hopeless, and unreached around the world use to burden our souls and permeate our churches.

Our churches do preach the gospel. We are blessed with hearing the gospel over and over again. We are blessed with churches that care about properly adapting to our culture and yet still standing firmly on the truth of God’s Word! But there is a missionary conundrum and it has nothing to do raising support. The missionary problem is this: local churches are slowly loosing their passion for world evangelism. That is not to say that we don’t have a financial budget for missions, but do we truly have a heart for missions. How interconnected is reaching our Jerusalem with reaching the uttermost?

“Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.”

Oswald J. Smith

The solution is to revitalize missions.

The solution is simple, yet hard. The solution is a call to revitalize missions; to renew a passion for world evangelism; to restore a vision for reaching the world in our generation; to risk everything so that all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues will be able to cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

“There is nothing in the world or the Church — except the church’s disobedience — to render the evangelization of the world in this generation an impossibility.”

Robert Speer, Student Volunteer Movement

The solution is simple: “Both”

Generally, the first objection to missions ironically comes from the Bible. I think a misapplication of a principle from Acts 1:8 has caused us to focus on part of the mission, but not the whole mission. In the book of Acts, we see the great commission lived out. In Acts 1:8 we see the reiteration of the mission: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ” In this verse, we are given a geographical pattern that is worked out in the following chapters: Jerusalem 1–7; Judaea and Samaria 8–12; the uttermost part of the earth 13–28; but I don’ think this is a command to follow. I think the take away from this verse is the same as when we read: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:19-23…meaning that our goal is the entire world. If there is a principle to be taken from this verse, it would seem to say, “Start where you are, but run to where aren’t.” Thus, I think it is wrong when we apply it to mean that we need to reach our Jerusalem first and only then can we focus on reaching the rest of the world. We must have an established world vision that focuses on both our Jerusalem and the world at the same time. We are to go to everyone, all the time. Consider the following thoughts:

  • The Great Commission is the task of the church to be continuously making disciples of the “people of the world” until Jesus’ return. It says to go: to “all nations”; to “all the world”; “among all nations”; and to “whose soever”. We can conclude that Jesus is sending us to make disciples of all people of every nation, country, people group—“whosoever will”. We have the responsibility to go preach the gospel and send around the world those willing to witness of Jesus. We are local and global ambassadors for Jesus—this is the purpose of the church on earth until Jesus returns.
  • “Nations” which is used twice in two of the great commission passages generally means a large group of people that are associated with each other based on language, culture, location or other various common factors. The use of this term in the great commission is to emphasize that Jesus is sending us to every single person—no matter their language, culture, location, etc. (This term was not used in the great commission to make enthroned-linguistic lists of peoples based on arbitrary criteria so that we can focus on getting a small percentage of as many diverse kinds of peoples saved or to usher in Jesus’ return. This is often misleading and can cause us to focus on a small portion of people while ignoring a large portion of people.) The formula is simple: every person, every place.

“People who don’t believe in missions have not read the New Testament. Right from the beginning Jesus said the field is the world. The early church took Him at His word and went East, West, North and South.”

J. Howard Edington

Don’t be that guy who misunderstands everything.

Don’t misunderstand! Yes, we need strong churches to be strong senders and to raise up a strong generation of goers, but without a passion for world evangelism and with an overemphasized focus on reaching only our Jerusalem first, we fall into the trap of never seeing our churches as healthy enough or mature enough to reach into the countless dark places around the world who are yet to have the gospel. As the great commission is lived out in the book of Acts, it is messy, churches aren’t perfect, they don’t have the best programs, the largest buildings and everything is not meticulously put into place before they go to the next place.

“It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions.”

John R. Mott

Summing it all up.

We need to revitalize missions in our Independent Baptist churches. We need to re-establish our passion for world evangelism. This means that we live within that tension of reaching both our Jerusalem and the world at the same time. And the pastors must lead this charge in his congregation, he is the key to the missionary problem.

“The mission of the church is missions.”

Oswald J. Smith

Questions To Consider

  • What is your church’s plan to reach your local community?
  • What is your church’s plan to reach China and India?
  • How much of your budget is spent on your Jerusalem?
  • How much of your budget is spent on the rest of the world?
  • How many people go on your church’s behalf to reach your community?
  • How many people go on your church’s behalf to reach other countries?

Discuss: Ideas

  • How do we live this out? How do we properly live in this tension?
  • How can we make missions more than just a budget item?
  • How do we make missions, not just another program but the actual plan?
  • If your church already “gets it”, what are you doing to help others “get it”?
  • How does discipleship and training men help accomplish this goal?

February 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends,

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Our ministry in mainland China is going through a wave of persecution right now. We have been reporting about all the great things God is doing and how souls are being saved, and now Satan is fighting back. We are in spiritual warfare. Much has happened since our last prayer letter. I will try to sum it up below:

  • Men from our church and the landlords we were renting from were contacted by the police about the possibility of illegal activity happening in the building we rented. The attitude and type of accusations seemed to be much more serious than what we have run into in the past. Because of this information, the church moved everything out of those locations overnight and started meeting in homes and restaurants.
  • The following Sunday, there was an attempted “raid” on the church, but no one was there because they had already moved out. But the police showed up at the Chinese pastor’s house and took him in for questioning for around 9 hours about a false accusation. He was released, but later he would be summoned by another police station where they asked about me and warned him: (1) Preaching the gospel to college students is illegal. (2) Having a church not approved by the government is illegal. (3) Foreigners preaching in China is illegal. He was finally released and sent home.
  • During this same time, they were after one of our American teammates. But he and his wife were able to drive to another city and fly out of the country. They were after the husband because of some false accusation made about him and the Chinese pastor. They made it safely to America, and Lord willing, will try to get back in at a later time.
  • Finally, one of the men trained in our ministry and whose name was on the contract of the location we rented for the church was summoned by the police. After getting the problems with the contract settled, here is the series of events that I was told happened: He was handcuffed, head covered, thrown into a vehicle and taken to a dark room and handcuffed to a table. He asked for a lawyer and was hit and then they handcuffed his hands over his head. He was asked to give up information about me and others in the church. He was beaten for not knowing or not giving over information they wanted. He spent the night in jail on a hard bed in a very cold cell with no covers. He could have given over the information about us and our ministry and been released, but instead, he remained loyal and was punished for it. After 48 hours his wife paid the fine and he was released because it was coming up on Chinese New Year. The original jail sentence was 7 days.

Praises, Prayer Requests, Updates and Announcements:

  • New Support Update: We have raised an additional 1% of new support this past month which makes a total of 14% raised on furlough. We are at 84% of our new support goal, which means we only need 16% more.
  • Furlough Traveling: Sine our last prayer letter, we had meetings in: AL, GA, SC, NV. Please pray as I will be traveling more extensively over the next few months, but this semester our children are in school and only have a certain number of days they are allowed to miss, thus my wife and children will not be traveling with me to most meetings due to schooling restrictions.
  • Solar-powered Audio Devices Update: They were not able to pick up the ones that were confiscated and take them to Taiwan, although there still might be a chance in the future. Please pray.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying, serving, and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward and keep fighting the good fight. May we strive every day to know Jesus, to be happy in the Him, and to make Him known! 

In His Joyful Service,

Mark

What Is An Attitude Of Thanksgiving?

An attitude of thanksgiving is a way of life that focuses on being thankful for God and the gospel. As we grow spiritually we gain a greater appreciation for God. We learn to give thanks to God for everything. We learn to be busy in thanksgiving and give no time for complaining so that we can shine as lights in the world.
Revelation 4:9-11; 7:11-12; 11:16-18

The Focal Point Of Our Thanksgiving Is God And The Gospel

  • Thanksgiving is the expression, in our attitude and actions, of our gratitude and appreciation to God. Thus, the core of thankfulness is to recognize and take joy in the good qualities of God and what He is doing in our lives. As believers, the focal point of our thanksgiving is the gospel because it has radically changed our lives and God is working all things for our good, thus as we identify with and take pleasure in the gospel we respond to God with thankfulness. Therefore, an “attitude of thanksgiving” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our gratitude and appreciation to Him because of His work of salvation in our lives and is ultimately reflected in the way we express our state of affairs.
    Psalm 97:12; 136:1-3, 26; (Romans 8:28-31)
  • Giving thanks to God is a natural result of true salvation. God the Father has made us fit or qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (the inheritance of His people in the kingdom of light). He hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated or transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son Jesus—in whom we have redemption, peace and the forgiveness of sins through the blood of His cross. We were once alienated from God and “enemies in our minds”—our entire disposition and attitude, the very core of our being, were opposed, hostile and hateful towards God because we loved our wicked works and not God’s righteousness. But through Jesus we have been reconciled. Paul prays and desire that our spiritual growth (in knowledge, wisdom and spiritual understanding) will result in “giving thanks unto the Father” because of this work of salvation He has done.
    Colossians 1:9-14, 20-21
  • Our thanksgiving should be abounding—abundant, plentiful and overflowing. As believers we confess Jesus as “Lord” and thus we should walk in Him—to live our lives after the manner of Jesus. The Colossians were to remember what they were taught, knowing that God caused them to be firmly rooted in Jesus and continues to build them up in Jesus, thus they are established in the faith—to be soundly and firmly grounded in the gospel and Christian doctrine. Again, this should result in abundant thanksgiving—which also serves as a reminder of the “Bible facts” and protection against “fiction”.
    Colossians 2:6-7

To Give Thanks To God In Everything

  • We are to “put on” thankfulness.  As believers, we are to put on the new man—which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Jesus that created us. We allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts—meaning that our “inner person” should allow salvation and God-given serenity that comes from it to fill us in such a manner that it produces a definite result—especially that of thanksgiving. We can do this by: (1) The Bible—letting the “word of Christ” dwell in us richly—abundantly, extravagantly, distinctively. The Bible has to enter our lives and find residence there—the Holy Spirit uses the Bible to transform our lives. (2) Scriptural Music—to teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace (thanks) in our hearts to the Lord. (3) Jesus Communication and Actions—to do everything, whether in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus—meaning all our interactions are lived in submission to and in the sphere of what Jesus approves of—not with an attitude of compulsory but with thanksgiving to God the Father through Jesus.
    Colossians 3:7-17; Ephesians 5:18-20; (Psalm 18:49; 26:7; 30:4; 30:12; 35:18; 50:14; 69:30; 75:1; 79:13; 92:1; 95:2; 100:4; 105:1; 106:1; 106:47; 107:1, 22; 116:17; 118:1, 29; 119:62; 140:13; 147:7)
  • We are to give thanks in everything because it is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. We are to give thanksgiving in the good times and for all of God’s blessings, but we are to also give thanks (by God’s grace) even when we go through sufferings, hardships, bad times, misfortune, heartache, punishment or consequences of our sins. We can search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord with thanksgiving knowing He is good and in control. Paul exemplified this by enduring suffering for the sake of the Corinthians so that God’s abundant grace wouldn’t only change his life but also their lives—thus as God’s grace was reaching more and more people it would cause the thanksgiving of many to redound—overflow, abound—to the glory of God. Thus the purpose of our thanksgiving to God is His glory. It means to be focused on the good even in the midst of tragedy.
    1 Thessalonians 5:18 (8-11); 2 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; Lamentations 3:37-40

To Be Busy In Thanksgiving Thus No Time For Complaining

  • Our speech needs to be controlled and changed in Jesus. The following manners of speech are out of place for believers: filthiness (obscenity), foolish talking, jesting (coarse joking). Instead our manner of speaking should be the “giving of thanks”. Ungodly deeds are characterized by not thanking God but instead murmuring and complaining against God. Instead of humbly giving thanks to God, the ungodly speak “great swelling words”—inflated words of self-importance and pride. This is not to be characteristic of believers.
    Ephesians 5:1-2, 4; Romans 1:21; Jude 14-16
  • Complaining is the expression, in our attitude and actions, of our annoyance and dissatisfaction to God. Israel is a notorious example of this and their example was written for our admonition: don’t murmur—complain, grumble, talk under one’s breath. After Moses brought Israel from the Red sea and they went out into the wilderness (God liberating them from Egypt) Israel complained about what to drink and about what to eat. Instead of focusing on the incredible works that God had done to save them they lusted after evil things and evil pleasures which resulted in idolatry, fornication, tempting God and murmuring against God. Israel also complained about their leaders and ultimately God’s plan for their lives. All of this complaining displeased the Lord, but the Lord was both extremely gracious to Israel when they complained and at other times He exercised judgement on them. We are to “take heed” lest we fall into the same errors.
    1 Corinthians 10:1-11; Exodus 15:24; 16:2-3; 7-12; 17:3; Psalm 78:17-25; Numbers 11:1; 14:2, 27, 29, 36; 16:1-3, 41; 17:5
  • We are to be busy shining as lights in the world, not complaining like the heathen. As we work out our own salvation, we are to learn to do all things without murmurings and disputings—arguing, debating, quarreling. All such complaining comes from resentment, negativism, dissatisfaction, discontent, displeasure, unhappiness, bitterness or selfishness. We overcome these issues because we know that God is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Thus as we change our conversation from “complaining” to “thanksgiving” we become very distinct from the crooked and perverse world and culture around us. We become “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke”—meaning our manner of speech becomes free from evil connotations.
    Philippians 2:14-16; James 3:1-12

Review Questions

  • Thanksgiving is the expression of what?
  • Thanksgiving should be a natural result of what?
  • When should we give God thanks?
  • What example of complaining was written for us to learn from? 
  • We should learn to do all things without what? But with what?

The Right Focus: Church Planting

I wrote about the Blessings Of Independent Baptist Missions which is “an incredible network of independent churches that are willing to partner with missionaries from various Baptist churches of like faith and practice to evangelize the world.” This post is in that same vein and builds upon it.

In general, we have a strong focus on church planting. And this is something that makes our approach to evangelizing the world very unique (and Biblical). As our movement grows, changes, continues on, and fervently presses forward to see not only our local areas reached with the gospel but every nation, we need to keep our focus on church planting worldwide healthy and strong. Missions should equal church planting.

Although I believe our focus as a movement is still on church planting as a whole, there is a trend that sees the importance of their local church and even the importance of supporting national church planting but regulates “foreign missions” as just a “good works outreach” instead of a “foreign church planting effort”. But missions should equal church planting, and here are a few ideas why:

  • Missions should equal church planting because it is the result of obeying the great commission—”make disciples of all nations through going and preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers and teaching them all that Jesus taught. As a result, new local churches would be established all around the world.”
  • Missions should equal church planting because churches can be the light of its community by its good works outreaches. For example, a church in America doesn’t need to have a missionary to foster kids in its local community, the members of the church can reach out and foster the children and care for them. The church is the answer to this problem. In the same way, the foreign field doesn’t need a missionary sent out to start a foster care ministry on the foreign field, they need a local church planted by a missionary who teaches them to be light in their community through the various means. Again, the local church is the answer.
  • Missions should equal church planting because it is an active and constant witness. What greater gift can you give to a community than “a group of believers who consistently gather together in one place for the common purpose of carrying out the will and work of God and to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”—this is a local church.

Sometimes there are needs for various ministries as “stop-gap measures” meaning trying to evangelize or be light in communities around the world until we have a local church there to do the job, but if we never send church planters then the temporary fix becomes permanent.

Blessings Of Independent Baptist Missions

As we are finishing up the sixth month of our tentative one-year furlough, I am reminded of the blessing that we have in our model of missions as Independent Baptist. To my knowledge, there is nothing else out there like it.

We have an incredible network of independent churches that are willing to partner with missionaries from various Baptist churches of like faith and practice to evangelize the world. For the majority of our missions programs, the focus is on church planting because we understand that “the local church exists to evangelize the world. Jesus commanded believers to be witnesses of Him to the entire world. Each local church should be involved in preaching the gospel to their local area and sending missionaries to preach the gospel in all parts of the world. Together we can pray, give and go.” We have been convinced that “the mandate of the church was to make disciples of all nations through going and preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers and teaching them all that Jesus taught. As a result, new local churches would be established all around the world.”

My family and I started deputation about 10 years ago, finished in 19 months, served in China for 8 years (with a couple short trips in those years), and then we have been on furlough for almost 6 months. Lord willing, we will be on furlough for another six months and then head back to China to continue our church planting ministry. So now that I have been traveling again, I have visited many of our supporting churches and also met many new churches. I am reminded of much of what I learned about our “deputation system” or the way that we network as Independent Baptist to raise finances, prayer, and laborers. Not to mention the incredible blessing that we have to go into local churches and “rehearsed all that God had done” with us, and how He had “opened the door of faith” unto the Chinese (Acts 14:27). I wrote about those things that I found as “Blessings of Deputation” here in 2011.

Another blessing of the way we organize our missions effort is that local churches are not only the main focus of the work of the missionaries on the field but local churches are also the core of how we raise financial support, raise up new laborers for the great harvest field of the world, and build partnerships with believers who are encouraging us as we go forward into the fight, knowing that we are doing this together to advance the gospel in our generation. We build real relationships that allow, not only the missionaries, but local churches to be directly involved in world missions through real relationships with their missionaries; they can give to real missions projects of the missionaries they know; they can pray for those the missionaries are trying to reach by name as they read their prayer letters and various updates. I know many missionaries who don’t have a network as we do and they are almost not connected to local churches that are cheering for their success and get behind them in so many different ways. Our model of missions is a blessing! And if you are a missionary in our ranks and want this kind of support structure, it is there if you want it. Yes, it takes work to build it and maintain it, but if a missionary is afraid of work, he shouldn’t go to the field anyways. The devil is not going to hand over any victories to you just because you arrive on the field. We are in a spiritual war and we have to act like men of God who know that Jesus is with us alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).

So let us continue on! Let us keep going forward with this wonderful system that we have. Please don’t lose focus. Local churches are the key of world evangelism, both in going and sending. Churches, let us continue to partner with church planting missionaries as the best method to reach local communities all over the world. Missionaries, let us continue to partner with local churches to facilitate the necessary partnerships that we all need to make a greater impact. There is always room for improvement, no system is perfect, but our model of missions as Independent Baptist is truly a blessing!

What Is An Attitude Of Confidence?

An attitude of confidence is a way of life that finds strong and firm trust in the fear of the Lord. As this confidence in the Lord grows we learn to prominently seek after the kingdom of God above all else and to continually pray with thanksgiving about all things. This leads to a God-given peace which passes all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Psalm 16:1-2; 65:4-7; 118:8-9; Proverbs 3:26; 12:25

There Is Strong Confidence In The Fear Of The Lord

  • Confidence is the feeling and conviction of firm trust in someone or something. Thus, the core of confidence is trust—to strongly rely on—but trust is only as useful as its object—the person or thing you put your trust in. For believers, there is a strong confidence in the fear of the Lord. Fear means to respect. It means we have the highest reverential respect for God because He is the creator of everything and this respect demands trust. Therefore, an “attitude of confidence” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses our firm trust and reliance in Him—which leads to seeking God above all else and relying on God in prayer with thanksgiving in all things which ultimately results in peace in God and courageous bold faith-filled living for the glory of God.
    Proverbs 14:26; 25:19
  • As believers, we have a “continual confidence” if we walk by faith and not by sight. This confidence is rooted in the truth and hope that if we are “absent from the body” we will be “present with the Lord”. This means that once our soul/spirit leaves our earthly bodies we are certain that God will give us a glorified, resurrected body in heaven. God gave us the “earnest” or deposit of the Holy Spirit to give us the confidence that this will come about. Therefore, in this good courage we labour, aspire, aim and make it our goal to be accepted of or to please Jesus—no matter if we are still in this body or present with Him. Also knowing that we will receive what is due (rewards not punishment) for what we have done in our bodies at the judgment seat of Christ.
    2 Corinthians 4:13-18; 5:1-10; Philippians 1:6, 21; 3:2-12; (John 5:24; Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
  • As believers, we have a “confidence of access” through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. This confidence of access means that through the incredible gospel of Jesus we can boldly and confidently approach God. We are given the opportunity to have direct access and communication to God through prayer and the hope of one day literally being admitted into the presence of the Lord. Because of this, Paul tells the Ephesians to “faint not” or to not lose heart or be discouraged over his tribulations for them because it is preceding their glory—to know, experience and enter into our eternal state with God.
    Ephesians 1:18; 2:7, 18; 3:7-13; 2 Timothy 2:10; Colossians. 1:27; 3:4; 2 Thessalonians. 2:14
  • As believers we have “confidence in God’s sovereignty”—that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Paul exemplifies unwavering confidence in God, His eternal purpose and gospel plan. Paul confidently prays to the Father that the Ephesians might be granted three requests and each can also be applied to us and build our confidence in God’s sovereignty as we pray these requests: (1) Transforming power—out of the riches of God’s glory we will be strengthened with might by God’s Holy Spirit in the inner man, so that Jesus may dwell in our hearts by faith. (2) Thriving love—all who are rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, grasp, and know what is the breadth, length, depth, height and to know the love of Jesus. (3) Thorough sanctification—that we might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    Ephesians 3:14-21

To Prominently Seek After The Kingdom Of God Above All Else

  • Confidence in God leads to seeking God first. We are to “take no thought” for our lives—meaning we don’t need to be anxious and worry about our lives (such as food, clothes, etc.). God, our Heavenly Father, wants us to pray and trust Him to take care of all our needs. We are to trusts that God knows what our needs are and that He cares for us. But even though we aren’t worrying about these things but trusting God to provide for us, this doesn’t mean that He wants us just to be idle. Instead He wants us to use our time to seek first—as the most important—His kingdom and His righteousness (God’s will, not ours). When we do this—not only will all these things that we were anxious about will be added unto us (needs, not all desires), but we show forth our confidence in God.
    Matthew 6:25-33; Luke 12:22-34
  • Confidence in God leads to focusing on today. We don’t need to be anxious (take no thought) about tomorrow. We focus on today. Everyday we should defer our worries until tomorrow—meaning we are to never worry because worry never comes, it is always today and never tomorrow. This doesn’t mean life will be easy, because Jesus says that everyday has its own sufficient amount of trouble (evil). He is saying that everyday we should deal with that day’s problems and decisions and not worry about the future. How many people make decisions today based on tomorrow’s anxieties? This points to a lack of faith in God. If we can trust God in the big things (salvation) then we can trust him in the small things (daily necessities). We live by faith—confidence in God—not by anxiety.
    Matthew 6:34; Proverbs 27:1

To Continually Pray With Thanksgiving About All Things

  • Genuine confidence in God should lead to peace. Peace is to be harmonious, to be free from disturbances and disputes. The peace of God is a God-given serenity that only comes from Him. The opposite of peace is anxiety, likewise, the opposite of praying is worrying, thus peace comes through a lifestyle of thankful prayer to God about all things and not through anxious worrying about self, life, etc.
  • Paul commands us to “be careful for nothing”—meaning that we are not to be anxious about anything. Anxiety is when we are worried—allow our minds to think at length—about difficulties or problems that often lead to unhappiness, uneasiness, and uncertainty. Thus, he is commanding us to not dwell on such “anxious thoughts”. Instead, he tells us to pray about everything with thanksgiving. This has three key components to battle anxiety: (1) Instead of worrying about something, we are to let it be made known to God. Prayer (petition), supplication (entreat) and requests (ask) are all different aspects of the same mode of communication to God. (2) All prayer should be done “with thanksgiving”. This puts our prayers into perspective so we come before God without murmurings and disputings but with gratitude and appreciation. (3) We are to come before God in prayer with thanksgiving about “everything”. Only through applying this manner of “thankful prayer” to every situation can we replace our habits of worry and anxiety. The direct result of this is that the peace of God, which is superior to all understanding, will keep, guard watch over our “hearts and minds” in Christ Jesus.
    Philippians 4:6-7; (1 John 3:19-24)
  • We are to cast all of ours cares or anxieties on God. To do so means we have to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God but also know and trust that He cares for us. We have to reckon that problems are relevant and important to God and He wants me to hurl these worries on Him. He doesn’t want me to fret and worry about them, but instead to trust and have confidence in His sovereign hand.
    1 Peter 5:7

Review Questions

  • Where can believers find strong confidence?
  • What are the three aspects of confidence that we have?
  • Confidence in the Lord means to prominently seek after what?
  • Confidence in the Lord means to continually do what?
  • What are we do be anxious about? Why?