Archives For Missions

Psalm 67 describes the right sort of motivation for praying for God’s blessing.*

Nearly every week, I close our services at The Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley with a biblical benediction that is thousands of years old: “The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

I am sure many of you have received that same benediction. What a wonderful thing to think that God would make His face shine upon us. It seems like almost too much to expect. Is it okay to ask God to be with us and guide us in such an intimate way? How we can we legitimately ask God for such a wonderful blessing?

Psalm 67 answers the question. The Psalm begins with this same benediction asking that God would be gracious and bless us and make His face shine upon us. But, then the Psalm continues, “That your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”

According to the Psalmist, the legitimate reason for asking God to bless is that we might tell the whole world that God is great. The proper motivation for praying for the smile of God on our lives should be that we might proclaim Christ to all nations.

Many of us would agree that God has made His face shine upon you. If that is the case, then make let’s make sure we are doing all we can to make the name of Christ known throughout the whole earth. What can we do to tell people about the greatness of the Triune God across the street and around the world?

Now — for all of you, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.”

*Revised from an earlier version.

The Story of Operation World

Chris —  September 28, 2015

Sunday, I encouraged our church to focus on fasting. My central proposition was that one of the ways we should respond to horrific evil in the world is to fervently pray for global missions.

One of the greatest resources ever produced for the sake of praying for missions is Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation (Operation World Set). This book offers an overview of every country of the world and offers suggestions about how to pray for them. This resource would be on the short list of books I think every Christian family should own.

In the below video, Jason Mandryk interviews Patrick Johnstone about the origin and development of Operation World.


See also:

Operation World

The E-mail Syrian Christians Would Write to Us

Focus on Fasting

Chris —  September 28, 2015

One of the ways God’s people should respond to grave injustice in the world is to fast and pray for the gospel message to go out to all nations. A number of our flock responded to my sermon on Matthew 6:16-18 and a challenge to focus on fasting. You can listen to the sermon here.

The black notebook to the right is the binder I use for some of my prayer notes for our church family. This week, I have crammed into it many response sheets from those who want prayer and/or are committing to fasting and praying on Tuesday. This was in response to the sermon on 9/27/15.

The logic of my sermon developed as follows:

  1. I asked our people if a captain in the United States army was justified in “beating up: an Afghan leader (one who the United States helped put in place) who sexually abused a young boy he had chained to his bed. (See U.S. Soldiers told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies).
  2. We defined fasting (per Lloyd-Jones) as voluntarily giving up a legitimate activity for the purpose of prayer and spiritual focus. Food is one obvious example but we might also choose to fast from media, screens, entertainment etc. The possibility of rewards and God answering our prayers should encourage us to do so.
  3. We reviewed Jesus’s warnings about fasting. Don’t fast to look spiritual in front of people. Be careful not to do acts of righteousness with the applause of people in view (Matthew 6:1). Further, do not approach fasting as a “work” to earn or merit something from God.
  4. We reviewed examples of biblical occasions of fasting (2 Chronicles 20:3, Ezra 8:21-23, Nehemiah 1:4, Acts 13:2-3, Acts 14:21-24. We concluded with Calvin that, ““Wherever men are to pray to God concerning any great matter it would be expedient to appoint fasting along with prayer.”
  5. We then returned to the original question. How should we respond to the sexual abuse in Afghanistan? It isn’t really for us to know precisely what should have been done in that situation. What is far more important than whether or not we would hit an Afghan leader as a soldier is to consider if we are so concerned about the cause of missions in the world that we fast and pray for the gospel to go out? We should consider which  we believe would help more: (a) Punching someone (b) Proclaiming the gospel?
  6. Bearing in mind that our heavenly Father who hears in secret will reward those who pray in secret (Matthew 6:18), we were challenged to consider making a specific commitment to fast.

I asked people to consider fasting during the daylight on Tuesday. I also encouraged our people to let our pastors know if they are fasting and praying and to share their prayer requests. Many responded.

Now let’s follow through. Let’s be praying people who cry out to God for justice.

See also:

John Piper’s recommended study: A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer

Scripture Passages to Help You Pray

Pray the Lord’s Prayer, Don’t Chant It

I am really enjoying God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth Here’s a sample quote in which they reflect on what it means to glorify God:

What does it mean to glorify God? The Westminster Catechism reminds us that “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” If we are created to glorify God, then we should know what that means. We glorify God by multiplying images of him who are crowned with his glory; we glorify God by making disciples. Jesus himself glorified God in this way. Near the end of his life, he declared:

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do . . . I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (Jn 17:4, 6).

Jesus glorified God by making disciples who kept God’s word. The mark of these disciples was obedience. Similarly, we glorify God by our mission in making disciples who keep God’s word.

(Page 35)

See also:

Towards Understanding More About the Glory of God

Notes for “glory” on Romans Study

How Would You Define Glory?

In The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul reminds us of God’s pattern for sending missionaries. The prophet Isaiah was “shattered” in the presence of God. When Isaiah encountered the holiness of God he cried out:

“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!.” Isaiah 6:5

Yet, when God asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah responds, “Here am I, send me (Isaiah 6:6-9).”

Sproul comments:

Two important things must be noted in Isaiah’s reply. The first is that he was not Humpty-Dumpty. In the nursery rhyme the fall of Mr. Dumpty is tragic because no one in the entire kingdom had the power to put him together again. Yet he was no more fragile than Isaiah. Isaiah was shattered into as many pieces as a fallen egg. But God put him together again. God was able to take a shattered man and send him into the ministry. he took a sinful man and made him a prophet. He took a man with a dirty mouth and made him into God’s spokesman.

Earlier in the same section, Sproul writes:

There is a pattern here, a pattern repeated in history. God appears, people quake in terror, God forgives and heals, God sends. From brokenness to mission is the human pattern.

Paul’s words should challenge us to pray for the Church in Syria and for one another. What would happen with the cause of Christ if more of us took seriously Paul’s admonition to pray (2 Cor 1:11).

Doubtless, many persecuted Christians in Syria and around the world are so persecuted that they are despairing of life itself.

The Apostle Paul could relate. In 2 Cor 1, Paul bares his heart by sharing that in Asia he and his coworkers thought they had reached the end:

For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  (2 Cor 1:8-9).

Still, Paul knew there was a purpose for his suffering.

But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Cor 1:9-10).

If Paul knew that his only hope was through Christ, he also understood that God works through the instrumentality of prayer. God’s faithfulness in seeing his people through difficulties is in and through God’s people praying. So Paul adds:

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:11.

Surely, if Syrian Christians had our email addresses, and they didn’t think that we would mark them as spam, they would echo the Apostle Paul’s words to us today, “You must help us by prayer . . .”

Most know the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and make disciples . . .” But Darryl Dash has helpfully pointed out that the forgotten parts are the most important parts.

A local church should not be just a local church. . . Pray for Eric on his missions trip.

With a very busy schedule these days, that involves a bit of traveling, sometimes I ask myself why not just do the minimum?

Or, I could ask the same question from the point of view of Eric.  He texted me last night from LAX. He was preparing to fly to Shanghai on a missions trip. Anyone who has ever flown internationally knows that he has a long trip in front of him.

Why should Eric invest so much in going to China on a missions trip?

It would be so much easier to stay at home – – to never do any special preaching series – – or to not worry about speaking to people in China.  From my end, it certainly would be less work to not write.

So, I ask myself, why not just worry about our local church?

But, then I remember – “A local church is not supposed to be a local church.” The New Testament envisions Christians involved in local assemblies of believers.  But, the mandate, the Great Commission that Christ gave to local assemblies was to make disciples not only across the street (though we must do that as well) but also across the ocean.   Christ said, “Go into all the Word to make disciples.”  If a local church is simply local, then it is not being obedient to the mandate given by our Lord to go into all the world (Matthew 28:18-20).

So, a local church (one that looks inwardly only to itself) is not a local church.  Nothing invigorates and energizes a local church like being involved in global ministries.  And, it’s no wonder, because that’s what God intended.

Never has there been an opportunity for a local church to be less of a local church then there is today.  The internet alone offers breathtaking possibilities for communicating with people all over the globe.

Is your “local church” just a local church – – -if so, then it’s not hearing the commission Christ gave to his people.

See also:

People Who Understand What is More Precious Than Gold and Sweeter Than Honey

I am asking my wife and children to watch this video

How much do you really know about Islam?

Zane Pratt writes:

Islam is a fast-growing religion, especially in the Western world. Increasingly, Christians need to be aware of Islam and, most importantly, how to engage adherents with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are ten things I learned about Islam during my 20 years as a missionary in a Muslim-majority country that I think every Christian should know:

Read the 10 Things Every Christian Should Know About Islam. (HT: The Radical)

Elsewhere, Rod Liddle submits that to draw a line between moderate and extreme Islam is to miss the point (HT: Carl Trueman)

See also:

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Islam in Contrast With Winston Churchill’s Views

Bad Mr. Huckabee, Bad

The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?

This will fire you up about missions!


See also these GREAT missions videos:

People Who Understand What is More Precious Than Gold and Sweeter Than Honey

I am asking my wife and children to watch this video