A little over a year ago I read a book by Matthew Henry entitled The Secret to Communion with God: how to begin the day, spend the day, and end the day with God. One of the things he wrote about was waiting on the Lord. He wrote:
To wait on the Lord is to have your desire toward Him, your delight in Him, your dependence upon Him, and your devotedness to Him.
This quote has stuck with me, especially as I read Psalm 25 over and over again. As we approach a year of living in a different country, we are learning there is never a moment in which we are not dependent upon the Lord. Ultimately, there is no better way to live than waiting on the Lord, because it is in our best interest to do so. It is living in a way in which only God gets the glory and in which we truly find joy and peace.
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 64:4)
As I think back over my life, I cannot think of a time when the Lord did not come through for us. He is an amazing God!
We have been in Costa Rica for three months now. As I wrote in the last blog, the Lord is teaching us so much more than Spanish. I wrote the following in my journal on July 28, just a little over three weeks before we came to Costa Rica. At the time, I had no idea how needful these thoughts are for our lives as missionaries – as Christians.
As I think about my life as a Christian, husband, dad, missionary, etc., I realize that I need to keep things simple. So much of life is too complicated; we make it that way. It doesn’t have to be so. Here are some basic things I need to focus on in my life:
- Love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength
- Love others as I love myself
- Trust God
- Give Him my heart
- Know God through His Word
- Pray a lot
- Be accountable to other Christian men
- Focus on making disciples of all nations
We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. (Psalm 48:9-10 ESV)
It has been written that “missions exist because worship doesn’t” (Let the Nations Be Glad, John Piper). This statement is certainly true. There are many places around the world where God is not worshiped. As Christians, we are compelled by the gospel to go and make disciples so that others may properly worship God.
We need to contemplate worship. True worship is not the result of blind ignorance but rather the result of careful thought about God. Worship involves our minds. Asaph wrote, “We have thought on your steadfast love, O God.”
Not only does worship involve our minds, but it also involves our hearts. It influences our emotions. Careful thinking about the character of God (specifically His steadfast love in this passage) leads to outward praise that cannot be contained. Our praise becomes global, or as Asaph wrote, “your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.” Therefore, not only is it true that missions exist because worship doesn’t, but it is also true that missions exist precisely because worship exists.
There are three implications that all Christians can take from this passage concerning worship and missions. First, we need to think carefully and rightly about God. Second, we need to put ourselves in God’s presence. Both of these are rooted primarily in knowing God through His Word. Third, our praise is proportionate to the One we praise. God cannot be contained; therefore, our praise cannot be contained. Our praise must be global.
The application is clear. A right view about worship will lead to a right view about missions. When Christ returns, missions will end, but worship will continue forever. Until He returns, our heart for missions must be an overflow of our worship.
In the last post, I suggested that a general summary of what it means to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice means to trust and obey Him. Here are 7 general observations concerning followers of Christ from the rest of Romans 12:
- We are called to transformation – to change (v. 2).
- We are called to think – to engage our minds (v. 2-3).
- We should think humbly about ourselves (v. 3).
- We should look for evidences of God’s grace in other people (v. 5-6).
- We should not try to live life alone – as Christians, we are individuals who make up one body (v. 4-5).
- We are to to use the gifts God has given to us (v. 6).
- We are to live radically unselfish, Christ-centered lives (v. 9ff).
I’ve been reading through Romans 12 a lot the past couple of weeks. It has been hard for me to not think about verse one, which is a good thing. For several years most mornings I’ve prayed, “Lord, I want to present myself to you as a living sacrifice today.” I think I really do mean what I say, but …
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve really started to think more about it. What does it really mean to present myself as a living sacrifice? That’s an important question for me, or any follower of Christ, to answer. Here are some thoughts:
The basis of Paul’s appeal is the mercies of God. Because of God’s mercies, we are to present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice. I need to stop and think about God and His mercies daily, or even several times a day, To think about God – who He is, His character, His promises, and His Word. To know Him. And then to think about His mercies. According to Jeremiah, His mercies do not come to an end, and they are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Wow!
My response to the mercies of God becomes obvious, even unavoidable – present myself to Him as a living sacrifice. But still, what does it mean to present myself as a living sacrifice?
There’s so much to this, but why complicate things? I think it’s right to say, “To present myself to God as a living sacrifice is to show gratitude and dependence on God because of the work of Jesus on my behalf. I do that when I trust and obey.”
There it is. I trust and obey Jesus.
We are honored to have partners who send us and would like to have partners who go with us!
By God’s grace, we continue to work hard to build our ministry support team, so that we can go to the field with the resources we need for healthy ministry. God has already blessed us with wonderful individuals, families, and churches who have partnered with us financially and prayerfully to send us to language school and the ministry of teaching and discipleship.
We are so thankful for those who have committed to partner with us in our ministry through their financial support and prayers! We also look forward to connecting the partners we have not yet met. Your partnership makes our going possible.
But, we’ve also been thinking about another aspect of our ministry. I wrote the following in my journal this morning:
We have begun to pray for families who will join us in ministry by going with us and serving alongside us. Specifically, we want three families.
First, we want an older family who can mentor us, encourage us, and help us transition, learn culture and people and ministry; although they are not old, we believe we have this family in Russ and Lynn Turner. Second, we would like a family who is in a similar life season as us, so they can partner with us through the course of our missions ministry. Third, we would like a younger couple to join us, so that we can mentor them, work alongside them, and prepare the ministry to continue long after we are gone should the Lord not return during our lifetime.
Please pray with us. Thanks!
As I have spent some time thinking about the truths in Acts 20:28, and how those truths relate to the ministry God has given us the opportunity to do, I have become humbled and excited. Humbled because teaching and discipling national pastors is serious work. Excited because God uses pastors to care for His church, which is so priceless to Him. Therefore, our ministry is not only good, but it is strategic. I’ll try to explain.
Paul had a short visit with the elders of the church in Ephesus as he was traveling to Jerusalem. Paul said some important things to these pastors, one of which was this in verse 28:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.
There are four things that stand out to me as I look at the verse in reverse order:
- The church is precious and priceless to Christ. I don’t have the word to communicate or the mind to comprehend how much Christ loves His church. He obtained it with His own blood. Wow!
- The ministry of a pastor is invaluable, since the church is precious and priceless. Pastors are to care for the church of God.
- Pastors have a God-given authority. Their authority to oversee their churches comes from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has made you overseers.
- Pastors have a God-given responsibility. They are to pay careful attention not only to themselves but to all the flock.
The ministry of teaching and discipling national pastors is so important and strategic in making disciples of all nations. AND this ministry is greatly needed in many places throughout the world. We would be honored for you to keep up with our ministry. It is not about us at all. It is about equipping pastors to care for and disciple their families and church who can then disciple others.
I came across an article, Missions Doesn’t Stop When a Group Has Been Reached, written by David Sills, this morning. It is worth reading. It explains one reason we are so committed to a ministry of teaching and discipling pastors. Following are a few sentences that especially stood out to me:
Nationals will one day be the best teachers, theologians, authors, and preachers for their national church—but only after they have been prepared. The background developed through generations of being steeped in pagan worldviews and false religions does not evaporate on praying a prayer of salvation. This is why Christ commanded us to disciple them.
Jimmy’s Egg. A place I’ve never been. A place I’d never heard of until August 2013. But God has used it, and probably countless other things in our lives, to get our family where we are now.
We are committed to discipleship. Not just reading about it, talking about it, and thinking of how to do it – but actually doing it. Our lives have been changed.
Facing many unknowns to us, but nothing unknown to our sovereign God, we set out in a new direction for our family. We are now missionaries. Missionaries with a ministry of teaching and discipling pastors.
We invite you to keep up with us. Not because it’s about us, because we’re crazy if we think it’s about us. But because following Jesus and making disciples of Him are ALL ABOUT HIM.
P.S. For those who are curious, Jimmy’s Egg is a restaurant in Oklahoma City. Randall Faulkner, a pastor in Oklahoma City, writes about his experiences of discipling men in his church in Meeting the Dawn at Jimmy’s Egg.