Charles Spurgeon drew a clear line, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter”. These words sting with truth. They vigorously grip my heart even as I pack my bags to go overseas on mission.
I recognize that not everyone will physically go to the nations. But I’m confronted by this statement because not everyone who travels on a mission trip is truly a missionary. Allow me to explain.
It is my belief that every Christian should have a passport and a willingness to go wherever God sends. He is a missional God and has called us to join Him in reaching the nations … all of them. Today, there are almost 7,100 unreached people groups worldwide; that’s over 3.1 billion people, 41.6% of the world population. As we understand God’s Word (e.g., Romans 1-8), these souls, created in God’s image, are lost and dying without Jesus and without eternal hope. We must bring the Gospel to them. As it’s been said, the Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.
But just packing your bags does not make you a missionary. I stand as Exhibit A. I must admit that, far too often, I attempt to do God’s work in my own power. My motives become selfish. Pride gets in the way of true submission. I fail to prepare appropriately. I spend insufficient time in prayer and meditating on God’s Word. I fail to adequately petition God on behalf of the people that He loves more than I do. I fail to put on the full armor of God. I fail to submit myself completely to His will. I fail to seek boldness to speak confidently and clearly in His name. (Eph. 6) When I fall into this trap, the mission is mine and bound for failure.
And, yet, He allows me to go anyway. I don’t understand why. I am unworthy. But, as Dr. Ken Keathley said, “God can hit straight with a crooked stick”.
It seems that I need the Gospel just as much as those to whom I go. I need the daily reminder that it is only God who provides the message of hope and eternal life. It is only in the grace of Jesus’ sinless life, His death on the cross, and resurrection from the grave, that I have anything to talk about. It is God who provides the power through His Holy Spirit. It is God who sustains every breath and heartbeat. It is God who called me. He does not need me, but He has chosen me. He called me to join His mission and when I get that right, then, and only then, am I truly on mission for and with God.
Being a missionary means much more than packed bags and passports. We must remain focused on God’s mission, centered in the Gospel of Christ, and urgent in our efforts to reach all peoples. Will you join Him on mission? Will you go to the peoples with Him? To Coats? To your family? To your co-workers? Anywhere He leads? Even when physical limitations prevent your travel, will you join Him in prayer and giving? Will you be a missionary today?
There are many words you have may have used to fill in the blank. Perhaps your word is fear, worry, doubt, shame, or envy. When you live in fear, you aren’t resting in the security that God is in control. When you are anxious and worried, you aren’t trusting in the provision God has promised. When you doubt your worth or ability, you are forgetting that God loves you unconditionally and has created you. When you feel shame and guilt, you need reminding that Jesus shed his blood and rose in victory to free you from any sin or failure that binds you. When you are envious and playing the comparison game, you are saying that what God has given you is not enough – which is untrue. He has given you all things in Christ Jesus!
I’ll give you the word I used to fill in the blank: insecurity. Actually, most of the words I listed above fall under the category of insecurity. I recently read a book called Sabotage: How Insecurity Destroys Everything by Trinity Jordan. During this journey, I found myself realizing the weight of my insecurities being lifted by the weight of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You probably know this, but it’s worth the reminder: the Gospel is more than being justified and glorified. As if that isn’t enough! We have been justified once for all and we will be glorified in eternity, but don’t miss out on being sanctified in-between. Sanctification is a very messy process and often painful, but it’s oh so worth it to become more and more like Christ every day!
I want to simply encourage you that living a life of worship over anything temporal is what you were created for. Of course there will be days when you fail. We’re all human living in a fallen world. But our eyes, our hope, our security, our identity, and our trust should not be fixed on or be dependent upon anything of this world. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Put all your hope in Him to keep His promises to you. Find rest and security in a Father that loves you unconditionally. Claim that your identity it found in Christ and in Christ alone. Trust in knowing that it’s okay to not know everything but that the One who created you and holds you fast does.
Worship over ______________. It’s up to you!
Greetings church family!
Starting Monday, July 1, I will begin a one-month writing sabbatical to complete my PhD dissertation at Southeastern Seminary (sebts.edu). Our deacons graciously recommended this time away, for which I am humbled and extremely grateful.
As July approaches I want to answer a few frequently asked questions.
What are you writing? My dissertation is on Edward McKendree Bounds (1835-1913) and his theology of unction — that is, his understanding of the Holy Spirit’s operation in the preaching event. For example, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” (Acts 4:8). I”ll be making sense of the “filling of the Spirit” in the context of Bounds’ theology. Bounds is best known for his work Power through Prayer. Let me encourage you to check it out. I know it will be a blessing to you.
How can we best pray for you? Many of you have asked me this question, for which I deeply appreciate. I will not complete this project with out the prayers of God’s people.
- Please pray that I complete this project. Period. It needs to get done, for the sake of God’s call on my life, my ministry to you, the stability of my family, and the health of my own soul!
- Pray that July would be a spiritual refreshment for me. Christian scholarship should never be a mere exercise in academics. No, instead it should serve as a sanctifying process, and a means of advancing the Kingdom of Christ.
- As you’ve heard me say before, pray the Lord would fill the gaps for my family. I will be away from Ashley and the kids much of the month. But the Lord is a gap filler. So pray my family receives much grace from him, and July is a month to positively remember.
What happens if…? Great question. As you know, I will be away from all church activities, and communication. I will not have access to my cell phone or email, which will be rerouted to Pastor Jimmy. This is best to ensure my sabbatical is productive and accomplishes its purpose. As always, our pastors and deacons are here to serve you.
Thank you church family for your prayers and support. I love you and will miss you dearly. But, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, August 4. Have a great July!
It’s All About Him!
As Christians, our normal focus is on the special revelation of God. That is, the gospel message. We understand that no one can come to the Father except by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord. General revelation, the way God reveals Himself in creation, bears witness to God, but it does not save. Of the two, special revelation gives us meaning and purpose as we are to take this message to everyone. We are to bear witness of the way God has made for us to be reconciled to Him.
So, what about general revelation? What role does general revelation play in the life of a Christian? The same as the non-believer: it shows us who God is.
Over the past few weeks, the high school Sunday school class has working through Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition: The Liberal Arts. After coming across this sentence, I had to modify the way I think about general revelation: “General revelation is a theological mandate to learn the world’s broad secrets as a specific opportunity to learn about its Creator.”
I had always and only thought of general revelation in terms of how it falls short of special revelation. How it cannot save. Inherently, I would honor God for a beautiful sunrise, or a long steady rain. But I did not consider how these things help me understand who God is better. Now I understand that understanding the creation gives us insights into the creator. Consider the wonder and order we find in nature. So many different creatures and environments coming together in a circle of life. Every creature has its place and purpose. Life is beautiful and varied. And we have one Creator to thank for it all.
But it does not stop there. Our lesson took us to one of the most incredible revelations of God…math. Can you feel the excitement! Math! It’s awesome!
Yeah, probably not the response of most people. However, consider the fact that math is discovered, not created. Mathematical proofs provide a stable basis for the scientific method and even for Christian apologetics. The deeper we dive into math, the more incredibly complex we understand the mind of our Creator to be. God created and put into place all the laws of math, science, and nature. He is the source that makes it all work.
This knowledge does not supersede the Bible in any way. It bears witness to the truth we find in the pages of the Bible. We serve a wondrous Creator who has no equal. He is worthy of our worship and our praise. He is greater than all of our struggles. Don’t miss the opportunity to know Him better by glossing over the simple truths in our lives that we take for granted. It all comes from Him, and He is worthy of praise for it.