Tag Archives: Series

The 4 Blocks of Ministry (1 of 3) Introduction

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During my time training, I realized something that was foundational for me in understanding how I was spending my time doing ministry. I realized that there was a major difference in being busy in ministries and doing “ministry”. Being busy in ministries will consume your time and leave you without much fruit. A lot can be accomplished yet still lack the fruit that you desire.

I didn’t know how to put everything into words exactly at that time, but as I started thinking about this over time the pieces started coming together.

As we started traveling on deputation and visiting churches I started to see a pattern in growing and thriving churches.

Then I started to make a connection between what I had learned and what I saw. I wrote down four words: Bible, Evangelism, Discipleship, Ministries.

I know this may seem obvious, but stick with me.

I noticed that people who seemed to be succeeding were strong in all of these areas and not just one or the other. They had solid Bible teaching, they were getting the gospel out, discipling believers and getting people to serve in different ministries.

I know this is simple but it is what I discovered… healthy growing churches seemed to be active in all of these areas and these are the areas I was trying to focus on in ministry as well.

As I was trying to compute all this in my brain, I realized that there was a problem…

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Right Thinking (1 of 4) Philippians 4:8

Missionaries struggle with their thought life. I struggle with my thought life. Being in the ministry and living in a different culture is hard. If you are living in a creative access country, i.e. China, then there is even more of a battle over the way you think. This is important because your thoughts affect your attitude and your attitude affect your life and ministry.

Here are three areas where we can start thinking negative thoughts:

Ministry Pressure – We feel unable to do the work of the ministry. We see the giant task in front of us and wonder how we could even make a small difference. We compare ourselves and allow the wrong kind of thoughts to creep into our life.

Culture Shock – We have to leave our way of life and learn someone else’s way of life. In this process we are in “shock” of how they do things and can think many negative thoughts about the people we are sent to reach.

Creative Access Countries – Fear is a big problem for people working in closed countries. It causes us to be scared of persecution and paralyzes the ministry, often times not even allowing us to do basic outreach.

If we don’t control our thinking, then in each of these areas we allow negative thoughts to come in and we will live a miserable and unproductive life. A life that will never seek God do great things. A life that will never adapt to and love the people. A life that will never see the joy in persecution or the furtherance of the gospel.

Maybe this is why Paul says “be careful for nothing” in Philippians 4:6 and then in verse 8 he tells the “brethren” to think on certain things. If our “thinking” affects our attitude and then our attitude can help/hurt our life, ministry and witness, then we need to find out the key to “thinking”. Paul gives us a prescription in verse 8, he says:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Each of these areas are all positive. He doesn’t prescribe for us to think on anything negative. We know what we have to do, we just need to reckon it to be true. That simply means we need to start doing it.

As we will see through out this series, it is more than just positive thinking, it is right thinking. We need to start thinking on things that are honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous, and praise worthy.

Missionary Potential (1 of 2) Spiritual Lessons

Potential is the “possible”, as opposed to actual. It means “capable of being or becoming”. Within the gospel itself, we find missionary potential. That is, the potential to transform a life from sinner to saint and send them around the world declaring it’s transforming power. Therefore, wherever the gospel is there is great missionary potential.

The local assembly where the gospel is constantly proclaimed is one of the wealthiest places on earth for missionary potential. The local church has unspeakable potential to turn the world upside down.

All through the Bible, God has used men to carry forth His will. Today, God is still using men to accomplish His purposes.

Jesus when He saw the multitudes was moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36-38; Luke 10:1-2). His compassion caused an action (whereas a reaction would simply caused guilt).

Then he tells us the harvest is plenteous. There are plenty of souls to be saved. The harvest field is the world (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20).

But there is a problem: “laborers are few”! Where are all the workers? Where are all the “living sacrifices”…the blood bought, born again, Holy Spirit filled young men who are willing to serve the King of Kings with their lives?

Then Jesus gives the solution: “pray”! Are we asking God for laborers? This is the prayer request of God! He will not command you to pray what He won’t answer. Ask God to make you a laborer. When you pray for laborers, pray: “God does that mean me? Do you want me to go?”

With 96% of that task outside the U.S.A., every Christians needs to seek God and ask “Do you want me to be a foreign missionary!”

Where the gospel is proclaimed and prayer for laborers is made, missionary potential is great!

The Cult of Eastern Lightning (1 of 4) Introduction

We were working with a small group of people, when one of them invited their cousin, who recently moved to the city, to meet me. He was a national Chinese missionary.

We met and I talked with him for a short time. He asked me about receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. The way he asked it, I was alarmed and warned those we were working with to “be careful” because of what other doctrines he might believe and teach. But thinking he was just of a Charismatic background.

I didn’t make anymore time to meet with him after that. Therefore, he sent me a book to read. I also receive a letter from one of the main guys I was working with about how confused he was from this man’s teachings (apparently he was having many that we were working with over to his house). I started to be worried.

The book was originally written in Chinese, but he gave me a copy translated into English. The name of the book was “The Word Appears in the Flesh” (Selected Pieces) published by the Church of the Almighty God.

I still was unclear what this meant. I did some quick research on the internet and realized it was a cult called “Eastern Lightning”.

As I read the book that was given to me and did more research online, I was absolutely disgusted by this group’s teachings. I have never read something with so much undermining to the Bible and Biblical Christianity.

If you are going to work in China, you should be aware of this group and their false teachings.

Here is a quick introduction:

“The Eastern Lightning cult was founded by Zhao Wei Shan in A Cheng in Hei Long Jiang province in 1989. Zhao used to be a member of a denomination called the Shouters. He later broke away with a group of people, and started a new sect called “Church of the Everlasting Foundation,” calling himself “The Powerful One.” Later on he joined with a woman named Deng in He Nan province. He began to call her “The Almighty God” – the female Christ in the flesh – and the name of the sect was at that time changed to “The Church of the True God.” The last name they have adopted for themselves is “The Eastern Lightning” which was taken from Matthew 24:27 in the Bible. At the present time, they have penetrated over 20 provinces in China; they have over a million followers and are attacking and greatly damaging Christian house churches in China.” [1] [[1]]http://www.chinaforjesus.com/EL_development.htm

Post in this series: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Teamwork (1 of 3) Why?

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I have the privilege of working with a great team of missionaries all around the world. It is encouraging to keep in contact with them.

When I moved to China, we planned to work with a family who is also part of our larger missionary team. We had known each other for a while and we are from the same home town.

But many didn’t expect us to work together well. Why? Because we both can be hard-headed and strongly opinionated. This can be a recipe for disaster! Thankfully it wasn’t!

After working together closely for two years, I think we both believe that we were blessed by our partnership.

As I take three post to consider teamwork, let’s begin with the “why”.

Why Missionary Teams?

I think working in teams can benefit missionaries because:

  • You can get more done.
  • You can learn from those in different life stages.
  • You can be encouraged from someone who has been there.
  • You can teach the new and learn from the experienced.
  • You can brainstorm with those who are like-minded.
  • You can dream without being judged.
  • You can be understood by other missionaries.

A team done right can become like a family who is rallied around a common goal or purpose.

A team is about giving and taking. You will be benefited by it and should desire to benefit others.

Why missionary teams? Because you need someone who says “I got your back.”

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Reasons Not to Go (1 of 6) Unwillingness

After trying to mobilize people for missions (and dealing with many of the issues yourself) you realize that people have tons of reason that they don’t want to or can’t go to the mission field.

I want to attempt to name a few of those reasons and encourage us to go in-spite of the excuses.

We need laborers. Our excuses are lame. Missions is hard. We need men.

May we be like Isaiah, when the Lord said “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” He volunteered saying “Here am I; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Notice that Isaiah was willing to go and surrendered to go.

Men who are willing to…. (Luke 9:23)

  • Say no to what they want, desire, and/or need for the sake of the gospel and following Christ.
  • To share the gospel in spite of what people think about you.
  • Die to wanting to always wanting to be accepted by your peers and know rejection is a way of life.
  • Die to their plans and willing to bear “their cross” and God’s plan for their life.
  • Do anything he may ask of you to the point of death.

Unwillingness is the heart of the issue with the following post just referring to the symptoms.

Do you have a willing heart to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

Let’s stop seeking after our kingdom and start seeking after HIS.

Serpents and Doves (1 of 5) Introduction

Have you ever been in a conversation that seems to be going really good and then someone just throws a conversation bomb in the middle? Everyone just stops and looks at each other awkwardly for the rest of the time until someone turns around and runs away crying?

Well, maybe not that last part, but you know what I am talking about. You are having a serious conversation and someone expresses a thought that no one has a reply to, so it just kills the conversation.

This kind of situation happens often when talking about missions in closed countries. When talking about being a bold witness for Jesus Christ people will often use the words of Jesus to express how we don’t need to be bold.

What is this conversation bomb you ask?

“Remember, we should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” BOOM! The bomb has exploded and all further conversation about advancing the gospel in a closed country context has just retreated back to the 80’s.

It is the secret phrase that kills the passion of anyone wanting to do something radical with the gospel. And it is scripture! Anyone with a lack of boldness in their ministry approach is clearly justified by this verse…

..or they misuse and mistranslated the verse to justify their own insecurities.

This phrase is used in scripture by Jesus, so if Jesus said it, then we know it is important. We need to figure out what it really means.

This phrase is instructive to the disciples on how to act as they go on their missions. It isn’t a “cease-fire” upon being persecuted or even the “chance” of being persecution. Ceasing to preach or speak in the face of persecution was never intended.

In this series of post, I am going to attempt to figure out what this phrase means.

Post in series… | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Doctrine (1 of 4) Christianity in China

Living in China and researching Christianity here, you will discover there are just as many variations of Christianity here as anywhere in the world.

Some try to show that the Chinese church is unified unlike any other part of the world. They wrongly think that this helps show a strong case for Christianity here.

Others choose to work with existing government or house churches. They are unaware of the differences or they don’t care about them.

As a young Baptist from an independent church, this is a concern for me. I came to China to start churches that I believe, according to the Bible, are doctrinally sound.

Living in today’s China and there being so many forms of Christianity (in the small percent that claim to be Christian), I want to take a few post to help clarify where we, as Baptist, may differ from some of the Christianity that you find in China.

Not all of it is bad. Neither is all of it good. Too many groups are reporting or working with groups that wouldn’t agree with their doctrinal statement.

In the next several post, I hope this will:

  • Bring some light to the situation.
  • Encourage the right relationships and overcome petty issues.
  • Challenge us to stay true to scripture and not give in for the sake of unity.
  • Show the need for doctrinally sound church planters.

Continued in… | 2 |

The Missionary Wife (1 of 8) Introduction

Series: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

I have a great respect for missionary wives. They leave the comforts of their home and everything familiar to them. They move to another part of the world that is completely foreign. They have to learn how to do their jobs as mom and wife in a new way, in a new culture and with new people. They have to learn to deny comforts and live with less. They deal with hardships and struggles more than most know about. One missionary wife puts it this way:

“Living overseas isn’t for the noble or the brave. It isn’t some life you pursue because you think it would be charming to tell people at a dinner party that you flew in from Hong Kong. Sometimes it feels like living overseas is reserved for the ill-equipped and foolish. It is a calling given to people who don’t mind being called an idiot for taking their children 8,000 miles away. It is for those people who have found God giving them secure moments of grace while the world is shouting promises of money and comfort.” [1]

I am sure there are plenty of joys, rewards and I-wouldn’t-trade-this-life-in-for-anything-else-moments. But while juggling all the complexities, hardships and adaptation a missionary wife can easily be distracted. I hope this series can help realign.

When I met my wife for the first time, she knew I wanted to be a missionary. I had no others plans. No backup plan. We married while I was still in the training stages and our life has never really been “normal” since then.

As I have watched and talked with my wife, I have learned from her. I learned from her struggles and her strength in the Lord during those times. She has been down in the valley before and has come out on the mountaintop.

The things that I have learned from her, the examples of other godly missionary wives, from reading scripture and a few books, I want to share in the upcoming post.

Series: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

Boldness (1 of 2) Speaking & Confidence

“You talk about boldness a lot, but what does it mean?”

My co-laborer wrote a great article on this, The Meaning of Boldness, and I suggest you read it if you want the answer to this question.

Also, for your consideration, I want to offer some thoughts from my study.

Study Introduction
The word “bold” in all of it’s forms (bold, boldly, boldness) is used 34 times in the KJV. In the O.T. it is used 3 times and in the N.T it is used 31 times. In these posts I am only going to look at the N.T. references that helped me understand the meaning of the word and/or the verses that are dealing with the topic of boldness in the proclamation of the gospel.

From a study of this word in scripture I see that it has the idea of speaking freely or outspoken, daring, and confidence. It’s characterized by expressing fearlessness in the face of danger. Therefore, I want to consider each of these areas of boldness and it’s relationship to speaking, confidence and fearlessness.

In Relation to Speaking

Boldness in the New Testament is many times connected with speaking (John 7:26). In the book of Acts we find that boldness is almost always connected with speaking, and even more so, speaking the Word of God (Acts 4:13, 29, 31; 9:27; 29, 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8). Boldness applied means to openly, clearly, and freely speak the Word of God in spite of prohibiting or unfavorable circumstances (persecution, human law, etc).

In Relation to Confidence

Boldness is not only connected with “speaking” but it is also connected with “confidence” (Hebrews 13:6). A person can boldly speak about “B” because they have confidence in “A”. Many times this confidence can be easily identified by the circumstances or because it is simply stated.

For example, 1 Thessalonians 2:2 says “we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God”. They could (“B”) speak unto them the gospel of God in unfavorable circumstances (2:2a) because of (“A”) their confidence in God.

The book of Acts, usually when telling us about those who were boldly speaking the Word of God, also tells us “in the name of who” they spoke (or who they had their confidence in to speak so openly on the subject they did).

As Christians our confidence to speak openly, clearly and freely about the Word of God comes from God. We have to take our eyes off of ourselves (or the current situation) and put them on Jesus. He is our confidence! In our preaching and teaching, He is the one and only that can give us the confidence to proclaim the gospel. Because of who He is (Lord), the authority that He has (all) and the power and promise in which he commissioned us to take the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:18-20) we can have full confidence in Him to stare into the face of fear as we speak the Word of His glorious grace!

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