On Passion

A friend was talking with me yesterday, and then again today, about the lack of passion we see in this world we live in. When we go and tell people about Jesus those we share with often don't even argue with us. They won't believe in Jesus but they also don't believe in anything. This frustrates the crap out of my friend who demands, "Just believe in something! Anything for crying out loud."

And this is the spirit of the air more and more in our materialistic world. Now 'things' aren't inherently bad, but our desire for things over God, that's the bummer.

Piper says here,
"Or are we in bondage to the pleasures of this world so that, for all our talk about the glory of God, we love television and food and sleep and sex and money and human praise just like everybody else? If so, let us repent and fix our faces like flint toward the Word of God in prayer: O Lord, open my eyes to see the sovereign sight that in your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11)."

And Piper mentions something interesting. Our passions and desires. Are we as believers passionate for God's Kingdom? Does the thought even enter our minds? Are we waking up every morning and finding more joy in reading the ESV in pretty letters on our iPhones or iPads than we are in meeting with our Savior? When you stand before Jesus even for just a few minutes in the morning and praise Him for how big He is, you can't help but feel small. Feel awe. And desire to know Him, praise Him, and make His name known in this world.

If and when you truly seek Him you will not be capable of leading a passion-less life. He inherently inspires passion.

Now a few more quotes.
"Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." - C.S. Lewis

Or another favorite is Yancey who steals away for a retreat and reads the whole Bible from cover to cover in a week. HIs observation? . . .
"As I read through the Bible in my winter aerie, I marveled at how much God lets human beings affect him. I was unprepared for the joy and anguish-in short, the passion-of the God of the Universe. By studying "about" God, by taming him and reducing him to words and concepts that could be filed away in alphabetical order, I lost the force of the passionate relationship God seeks above all else." - Philip Yancey

Our God doesn't want us to walk through this life acting like the eternal damnation of the friend standing next to us is no big deal. Acting like it can wait until we're done with this really promising Dilbert cartoon. Our God wants to know our friend. He wants to call him from darkness to light and to see him respond.

I'm not saying don't rest. I am saying don't miss the battle. It's happening. And you're either fighting or you're taking tea time instead of entering in.

I have to end with one of my favorite verses ever.

"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." - Matthew 11:12

Will you be a violent man? Will take the Kingdom of Heaven by force? Or are you too interested in blogging or your iPad, or that fancy pair of shoes, or that raise?

Lord awaken us to Your majesty. Call us before You and show us our worthlessness apart from You. The insignificance of everything around us if You're not there. Remind us that because of You we have a hope for this world, and an eternal hope. Give us a burning sense of pain for the lost around us. Show us the battle and help us to enter in. Teach us to fight the fight that You have ordained for us and make us passionate for You. Passionate for Your name to be glorified. Amen.

Everything we do is in vain without the Lord (Psalm 127:1-2)

"Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep." Psalm 127:1-2

Today my prayer was "Lord, without you all of my work is in vain. All of my hopes are in vain. Everything I'm doing is in vain. My team, our ministry, our vision for this city - it's all in vain unless you, Lord, are in it."

I've known this for some time. The city simply has way too many people in it for me to believe we can have much of an impact in our own strength. But this verse is a reminder that it's not even "much of an impact," rather it is "no impact." That is it will be utterly worthless without the Lord's hand. All of it in vain.

That's humbling. Pleasantly so. And brings me to my knees to beg for more grace/mercy/patience/help/wisdom etc...

How to plant a church - in 5 steps

(this post also available as a downloadable PDF)

There are many guides out there for how to plant missional churches, but all of them seemed too complicated, philosophical, impractical, or just plain misguided. I've attempted the following things in my own ministry with varying degrees of success. What I've compiled here is a list from what I've learned (by experience and trial and error) from my own work and what I've learned in watching other's fail or succeed.

Many systems list 10 things as essential. Or 30 things. I actually firmly believe there is only one thing essential for a successful church planting movement. Prayer. Obviously planting a church is not easy. If it were many more would be successful. But it IS simple. Love the one who created you. Follow him.

If you are regularly humbly praying then you will be tuned in to God's will. You will be walking closely with the Lord. And it will be difficult to not catch His vision and follow His direction for what you're doing.

Therefore prayer is essential throughout this. First and foremost - everything listed here must be sprinkled, covered, drowned in prayer.

Some people argue prayer is first, education second, and leaders third. I would argue prayer is first, second, and third.

Prerequisites:
Love God and seek His glory first
You need to have authority in your life *1
Have a friend who will punch you in the face when it becomes about you.
Step 1 - Get Started - Pray for it
1 - Invite a crowd of 4-5 to a restaurant and start meeting weekly.
The place is unimportant
The length/type of the sermon is unimportant
The education of the preacher is unimportant *2
2 - Cast vision for church growth.
Via multiplication (not addition).
Cast a vision for evangelism
If we really believe Jesus is the BEST thing in our lives we will talk about it.
3 - It has to be about loving the Lord
Not building your own name, becoming a famous church planter etc...
Therefore
4 - Pray that it would be about the Lord
5 - Pray for converts, growth, and wisdom in your methodology.
Get your members praying with you.
Get your members praying FOR you. You need all the prayer you can get.
Step 2 - Evangelism - Pray for it
1 - Can happen before people attend the church, but non-Christians can come too if they're willing.
2 - Understand sharing as necessary
For non-Christians to have any hope in this life
For the church to grow
3 - Learn how to share your faith
Via practicing - Share regularly
Attend trainings
Read books etc...
4 - Do evangelism - Regularly
5 - Teach others to share
Pass on what you've learned
Put on your own trainings
Bring people along with you
Pass on books that were helpful to you

Step 3 - Raise up Leaders - Pray for them
(it's not about you, it's about the Kingdom)
1 - Call people to what they're called to do and enable them to succeed at it.
People are called to something
Help people understand their calling
Enabling them to do what they're called to do may mean releasing them to leave your ministry and do something else
2 - Entrust to faithful men (2 Tim 2:2)
People become responsible when given responsibility
Call people to step up in maturity
Leaders are defined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus
Not by how much education they have
3 - Provide training (ongoing)
Leadership training
Theological development
If you cant provide this send them to someone who can
It does not have to be full time
4 - Shepherd your flock of leaders
So they can shepherd their flocks

Step 4 - Prayer - Pray that you'll know how to faithfully do it
1 - Organize prayer meetings outside of regular church time
2 - Give away leadership of prayer meetings
To those who can train others
And then give it away to others
3 - Pray yourself
Ask God for wisdom and direction
He will give it to you
Ask God that you would do His will not your own
You will be tempted to the opposite
4 - Pray with your leadership
Teach them to pray
Model prayer for them

Step 5 - Send people out - Pray for wisdom, patience, and direction in doing this
1 - Hand steps 1-5 to a member in your group
They will not be as ready as you
Hand things off before people are ready
Otherwise they will NEVER be ready
2 - It should make you uncomfortable
Because it includes people. And people are messy
Because God's Kingdom is bigger than your idea of it
This means gifted men and women may have different theology and methodology than you
3 - Make mistakes
If it's not messy then you're moving too slow
Better to plant 10 churches and 1 heresy than no churches
You pray against this but you cant control everything
*1 - This person should know the answer to the question, "What sin/s is most likely to disqualify you from ministry?" And included on your list of answers to this question should be "Pride"

*2 - The patterns you set will affect the DNA for the future of the church. If prayer is not an essential part at the start (and it should be) then it will be difficult or impossible to add in later. If you meet in an expensive building to start then others, when they are released, will think they need an expensive building before they can plant. If you meet in a house and preach 20 minute sermons then you're creating something reproducible. Think strategically.

This guide is clearly not infallible, therefore - pray.

Turn to Him with your whole mind and being (Deut 30:10b)

"But you must turn to him with your whole mind and being." - Deuteronomy 30:10b (NET)

It's strange to think just how easy it is for me to get caught up in ministry. I love ministry. I love sharing the gospel. I love trying to raise up leaders. I love trying to plant churches. It gets me so pumped up it's ridiculous. Sadly, often times what gets me excited is the strategy of it all. I feel like I'm playing RISK on a team I know will win, but I get to move the pieces. I feel like the Lord is choosing to use me to align things in the right places and make wise decisions.

Which is true.

But if that's all I do then I miss the point of life. I'm thinking about a cheesy Michael W. Smith song from forever ago "The main thing in life, is keeping the Main Thing the main thing." I have to turn to Him with my whole mind and being. Not be focused on the goal of church planting. Or city transformation. Those are fine goals, but my WHOLE mind and my WHOLE being are to be on Jesus.

This should be a reminder for me that going a week without a quiet time - even if I see unbelievable things happen in ministry - is unacceptable. I NEED to be loving my Creator. He can do without me strategizing for this city. But I cannot do without Him. At the center. Of everything.

Most of the time in life it's money, or fame, or pride, or whatever, that takes us away from Jesus. But it's almost even more sad when ministry is what keeps me from rendering my whole mind and being to the only one who deserves it. Even worse is how common the problem is.

So you're called to be a pastor . . . .

So you're called to be a pastor. A church leader. A preacher.

Congratulations. Now there are a few things to understand before you get too carried away.

First of all, if you're called to be a preacher in the sense that you feel you have the gift of teaching, then please, teach. But recognize preaching is something different. If you're funny, and are good at communicating truth, if you love to exegete scripture and hash it out for people to understand then FANTASTIC. The Church needs people like you, but you're a teacher - not a church leader. Not a pastor. Please don't take a job as either of these.

A huge problem the church has today is the confusion of these three roles. I would venture to say there are very few to none who would successfully fill all three of these roles. So lets look at the difference between them in role and goals.

If you feel called to be a church leader then recognize that your goal is to raise up as many men and women as you possibly can and enable them in the ministry they're called to do. Did you hear that? Your goal is not to grow the biggest church in your city. In fact if that is your goal then you WILL fail. You may succeed for a time, but eventually someone will be better looking, funnier, and more charismatic than you - and people will switch churches. But it's okay because you weren't called to be an Entertainer. You were called to be a church leader. A church leader is not capitalized because it is special in a "different than someone called to be baker" kind of way, not special in an "Oprah is different because she's famous" kind of way.

A church leader's role is to lead a church. A church is a group of men and women getting together and trying to walk closer with their creator. It is exactly as large as it can be before someone is raised up out of it start a new church. And the church leader's role is to love, shepherd, mentor, and release other church leaders. Not lead in a "run the show" kind of way.

A pastor's role is to shepherd, mentor, and guide the other members of the church. In a functional church there will be two or three of these for a crowd of 30 or so. They will naturally pastor and you will spot them doing their pastoring frequently one on one. A pastor can be and often is introverted and generally doesn't fit well into the "church leader" role. You know this guy (or girl) because he has pulled someone aside and is asking them how they are doing, he is challenging thoughts which aren't loving, he is pressing for a closer walk with God and a more intimate prayer life. He picks out the person in the room who has been crying all week and prays with them through the loss of their mother. A pastor cannot effectively pastor a group too large, the church leader needs to therefore be sure he is encouraging the people in the group with the calling/gifting of pastoring to be doing that pastoring.

The preacher is also a wonderful asset to a church. People love it when it is the preacher's turn to share at church because he is fun, entertaining, and brings the Lord's truth in a way that is both informative and speaks to the heart. The preacher recognizes that people can sometimes remember one or perhaps two sermons which really had an impact on their lives - i.e. most of what he says will be forgotten before the week or even day is through. But he also believes that the Lord's word is truth, and that hearing truth WILL change people. He is passionate about his own personal times with the Lord, both in prayer and Bible study and loves to share about what he's been learning with others. A preacher does not need any formal education. A seminary degree will often do more to hamper his ability to teach than it will help.

Now back to my favorite role. The church leader. If you're called to be a church leader then what you are called to is a great task. A wonderfully overwhelming job that you will never be able to accomplish on your own. Thankfully you wont be on your own. You'll have other's around to encourage, enable, support, strengthen, and humble you. If you get rid of these people you will die a slow and painful embarrassment of a death (so keep them around). You are asked to be a general of an army, on the front lines along with your men, but also back in the tent looking at the situation of the troops and planning for the big picture. It is your job to know the people of the church and therefore intuition is of great help - if you lack it, pray for it. You are to constantly be calling people to what you believe the Lord has called them to. There are people everywhere who are called to take a part in God's Kingdom but don't know where, how, or even that they are invited to do so. You will be an enabler.

You will be a violent man taking hold of God's Kingdom and violently advancing it. You need to be steeped in prayer because as the strategist you will be greatly under attack from the enemy. Every little move you make will be closely watched by the enemy. Beg people to pray for you because you'll need it. You'll be tempted to pride, fame, and glory. It will be easy to forget that you live for the name of Jesus to glorified - not your own name.

Never forget that your success is measured in numbers (yes!), but the measure of success is not the number of people in your church, rather it is how many of those who were called did you enable? How many of those to whom God said, "Go forth and be a pastor (or preacher, or church leader, or whatever)," did you release with a blessing? How many did you challenge to move forward with God's calling and enable to succeed?

If you are a leader you have a choice to make. Will you have as much influence as one man can have on one church? Or will your influence be the influence of the many you raise up? And those they raise up? Will your influence be your small role in the greater Kingdom? Because if your goal is to have the name that is known as "great speaker," "wonderful preacher," "down to earth, easy to talk to guy," then what you're really seeking is for your name to be known in God's Kingdom. A place where there is only room for one name to be glorified. The name of Jesus.


At this point I need a disclaimer. My disclaimer is this. I live in a country where "big church" is an impossibility to due to government regulations. As such I've been living in a world where "house church" is all that really exists (there are exceptions, but I basically never encounter them). My opinion has shifted in the direction of seeing the house church movement as *generally healthier* than "big church." That said, I recognize the Lord can use and DOES use "big church" in His Kingdom. While I strongly believe in a small model, it's not that I don't recognize that the Lord can use either system. It's that I've seen a LOT more unhealthy leaders in the "big church" model - which I would argue is inherently broken - than I see in the house church model. In a house church model there is no room for the "hero pastor," because the church can only be so big before someone goes to jail. Therefore new leaders are always being raised up because there is always a need for a new pastor, a new leader, and a new preacher.

On the prayer of faith

In studying James Fraser (missionary to the Lisu people in Southwest China) I'm really wrestling with two things. Fraser is a man of prayer - serious prayer. Yet there are some things about his prayer that I can't wrap my head around.

First of all Fraser prays for hundreds of converts among the Lisu. When asked why he doesn't pray for thousands he answer, "Because the Lord has given me faith for hundreds."

This is difficult for me to wrestle with because I believe the Lord has given me faith for this city. But if the city in which I live has MANY MANY more than thousands of people am I wrong about how much faith the Lord has given me? Should I re-evaluate and ask for 1/2 the city? Or hundreds of converts? If my job is to see a whole a city transformed and thats what I believe I'm called to do, then shouldn't I have faith that the Lord can enable me and my team to do what we've been called to do?

So this is my first area of difficulty.

The second is equally as difficult for me to understand. He prays and asks the Lord for hundreds of converts several times. Finally in 1915 when he's asking the Lord again for them he feels like the Lord says something along the lines of, "Ask my properly." He says it's as though a child were asking for something he wanted but kept nagging the father instead of asking appropriately once and then recognizing that his father will give him what he wants.

So he gets on his knees and he prays the "Prayer of Faith." And from that moment he's convinced the Lord has already answered the prayer.

Before 1916 he had seen single digit conversions. Then in 1916 he saw more than 600 Lisu people renounce their demon worship and turn to Jesus. People said to him, "The Lord has finally answered your prayer." To which he responds, "No, he answered it immediately after my prayer, it just wasn't realized until now." In fact he is so sure that his prayer is answered the moment he asks that he never asks for it again.

So what I'm wondering:

1. Is that fact that I ask everyday for this city a demonstration of my lack of faith?

2. Does it mean I simply haven't asked properly and my prayer will not be answered until I do ask properly?

3. Has my prayer already been answered and I'm somehow nagging God with continued asking?

My thoughts up to this point mostly point me towards uncertainty and therefore continued asking. Asking for more faith to ask appropriately. And then wrestling with God in prayer about the way I'm asking, whether or not he plans to see this city reached n my lifetime, etc...

Those of you who are called to something you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you cannot achieve on your own strength (which should be all of you - see John 15, but probably isn't), tell me how you depend on the Lord.

p.s. if you'd like to read "The Prayer of Faith" by James O. Fraser click here. It's ridiculously fantastic and annoying at the same time. This man was a humble hero of the faith.

Praying in the name of Jesus (John 14:13)

"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do . . ." - John 14:13a

Any idea how this verse ends? If not don't get too down on yourself as I imagine a lot of people don't. I've been dwelling a lot lately on prayer and why it seems my prayers aren't answered, or at least not in the timing and way that I'd like. Particularly in praying for this city. I really desire to pray for revival and then see my neighbor walk out of his door, knock on my door and ask how to know Jesus. I'd at least like to see healing when I ask for it. So why doesn't it always happen? I pray "In the name of Jesus." Isn't that the trick?

Just so I don't leave you hanging, the rest of the verse is, "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

That is, ask in the name of Jesus so the Father may be glorified in His Son. The point of asking in Jesus' name isn't because it makes a prayer more holy. It's because answers to prayer are for the glory of God.

How easy is it to pray for something "in the name of Jesus" because we want OUR name to be known. It's sad but true. We ask for success in ministry not so that the Lord's name would be known in the city, but that our name would be known among pastors, or teachers, or friends or whatever.

Whatever you ask His name, you're asking for the sake of His name. That the name of Jesus would be glorified.

Prayer for deliverance from evil - thoughts on the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:13)

This weekend I'll be preaching on 2 Timothy 2:1-7. And as such I've been dwelling a lot on being a solider of the Lord, on competing according to the rules, and on entrusting ministry to faithful men who can teach others. Well, it's led me to thinking a lot about prayer. A soldier of the Lord prays to please his Commanding Officer. There is a lot of ministry people aren't capable of being entrusted with, but anyone can pray.

Anyhow. I was reading the Lord's prayer this morning.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.  
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.  
Give us this day our daily bread,  
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.  
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
And found it interesting that we're to ask for deliverance from evil. For avoidance of temptation. I think there is a myth that as we mature as believers we'll eventually be able to overcome sin by our own strength. But this simply isn't true. We still need deliverance from above. Help in temptation. We will not become sinless pastor-heroes. In this life we will be not become sinless, temptation-free anything. No matter how big our church is. How successful our ministry is.

Prayer. For deliverance. There is WAY more in this prayer. But his stuck out to me today.

Praying for Missionaries (Andrew Murray)

Some excerpts from Andrew Murray's "The Secret of Intercession."
It is when Christians cease from looking for help in external union, and aim at all being bound together to the throne of God by an unceasing devotion to Jesus Christ, and an unceasing continuance in supplication for the power of God's Spirit, that the Church will put on her beautiful garments, and put on her strength too, and overcome the world.
And then later in talking about intercession for missionaries,
Pray for the missionaries, that the Christ-life may be clear and strong, that they may be men of prayer and filled with Love, in whom the power of the spiritual life is made manifest.
Pray for the native Christians, that they may know the glory of the mystery among the heathen, Christ in them the hope of glory.
Pray for the baptism classes, and all the pupils in schools, that the teaching of God's Word may be in power. Pray specifically for the native pastors and evangelists, that the Holy Spirit may fill them to be witnesses for Christ among their fellow-countrymen.
Pray, above all, for the Church of Christ, that it may be lifted out of its indifference, and that every believer may be brought to understand the one object of his life is to help to make Christ King on the earth.
Bold emphasis mine.

Please be joining me in prayer. The biggest, baddest, strongest, meanest, most significant tool in our belt is prayer. Because our own strength is painfully weak, but in calling on the power of the Almighty, well.... anything can happen.

Our riches - wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (Rev 3:17-18)

"For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see." - Revelation 3:17-18

Dwelling on pride this morning this verse is on how our values are not the Lords. What we think is wealth is great poverty and only God's refined gold is true wealth. The wealth that comes from God is true wealth. Not the wealth of this world.

More interesting are the verses that follow: "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." (19&20).

Often we hear this verse quoted in reference to evangelism. This is however, not a verse to the unbeliever, but to the believer. And when He comes in He brings something greater than the wealth of this world. Greater than the things we can find pride in in this life.

God we need God.

Why is the meaning of life?

Frequently when sharing my faith I begin by asking people if the have any idea what the meaning of life is. It never occurred to me (until today) that the question of why is equally as important. Why does it matter at all what the meaning of life is? Why does it matter that there even BE a meaning of life.

In fact in a non-Christian worldview there is little reason to have a meaning of life. If there is no eternity. If there is no creator worth knowing then it doesn't matter what you do. No legacy you leave behind is worth anything more than dust. No children that you love will be affected any differently in the long term than children you beat or hate. In the end everything is utter meaningless. Even horrific pain in this life is merely temporal. Something to return to the dust. So it matters not your reason for living.

The 'what' becomes utterly meaningless without the 'why' and the only reason to pursue the why is having something bigger to live for. Because we are beloved creations of a magnificent creator who is glorified in our satisfaction, therefore it is significant that we understand the 'what' of the meaning of life. Because life is eternal (either in damnation or The Kingdom of God) it matters what we do in this life. It matters that we know. That we seek to find the answer to the meaning of life.

So next time you're sharing. Or someone asks you "What is the meaning of life?" Unless they believe in something your answering the question is pointless. And showing them this well help them to understand that there simply MUST be something greater out there. Otherwise death is a much more swift solution. Drugs are much more comfortable solution. And meaningless, unsatisfying sex is a much more wise solution.

The meaning of life is absolutely insignificant if you don't have a reason to pursue finding it. Only with something greater than this life, greater than this earth, is there meaning to this life. And only via that understanding should anyone care to attempt to answer the question of 'what'.

On the fragility of the human mind

I'm dwelling a bit this week on the frailty of the human mind. It seems we're all a little too close to going over the deep end. In fact a friend of mine just yesterday wrote me to threaten 'bloodshed' on the church where he's been for the past fews to repay what he sees as "hypocrisy."

We're all hypocrites at least in some way shape or form. We all deserve death. But I'm nonetheless confused by a good friend passing over from 'humble servant of the Lord' to 'judge.' And it began for him with depression. Something I've certainly known. Why did the Lord make us so mentally incompetent?

I feel like I'm willing to give up my sin to the Lord. But my mental well being? Well, I'd prefer to keep that in shape by running a lot. I'd rather avoid pills but I'd probably give those a shot before trusting the Lord to help me. Now I'm not bashing on depression meds. Just thinking about how common they are. How in need of the Lord we are in our mental health. Fascinating to me just how fragile we are.

I fear losing it altogether less right now than I do sometimes. But certainly having a focus and direction which I believe to be for the Kingdom of God helps. When I'm directionless I'm most fragile.

Do you feel you have it all together? Do you feel you're teetering on the edge of sanity? Is the Lord holding you together, but often seemingly just barely? Just curious if I'm alone.

If you read only one article this week.

Make it these two.

THE PROBLEM WITH PASTOR AS ROCK STAR

10% CHRISTIAN LIVING

Maybe you're aware of this website CatalystSpace.com
I have not been. But I'm impressed thus far.

The ground zero mosque. And you.

Apparently there is a lot of talk about what people have dubbed the "Ground Zero Mosque." Because I live outside of the United States I haven't heard much about it beyond what I get from my morning listening of the NPR news hourly podcast while shoveling yogurt and fruit into my 10 month-old's mouth. However recently I've been hearing a lot of strange opposition to the mosque being built and I wanted to chime in with my thoughts.

First of all I should mention that a lot of my thoughts have come from this article. Apparently this guy Douglas Wilson is kind of a big deal but he was a little bit heady for me to know exactly what he was saying. I did gleam some of his ideas about freedom of speech however and after talking it over with some friends these are my thoughts.

1. I'm an American. As an American I firmly believe in freedom of speech. I also love that our government also allows freedom of religion. Now I currently live in a place where neither of these two are freedoms and I have a very good understanding of what life is like without them. Remember our mantra about freedom of speech? "I disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

2. I'm a Christian who believes that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and no one has any chance of knowing the true Creator-All-Powerful God without going through Him. I do not believe that Mohammad was a prophet. I do not believe that allah is the same as the God I worship, nor do I think Jesus died on a cross to atone for people's sins before allah. As a Christian I do not WANT a mosque to be built ANYWHERE in America. I would prefer that only what I believe to be the One True God ever be honored anywhere.

But I would also prefer there not be Mormons building temples or 'churches' ANYWHERE in America.

That said I would defend to the death the right of the Muslims to build a mosque at ground zero. We cannot have freedom of religion and freedom of speech selectively. They have a right to build a mosque if they can afford it and have purchased the land no matter where their funding comes from.

3. Now having made these two points, I would also like to argue that we cannot say there should be no mosque at ground zero because it is hallowed ground (or whatever argument people are making). The only reason for the muslims not to build a mosque at ground zero is simply because it is RUDE.

That's it.

These are my points. We cannot stop them. We should not stop them. However we should certainly proclaim boldly that this is a RUDE thing to do and ask them not to do so (but they don't have to listen).

Islam is in a unique position, however, of being nearly immune to being ridiculed for doing rude things (mohammad cannot be portrayed in any way shape or form without someone getting their underwear in a bunch, but Jesus can be mocked mercilessly even by university professors). If a Christian simply says he is a Christian he is being inappropriately offensive in America (take Tim Tebow for example). But if an outspoken muslim group flies airplanes into buildings and kills many many people, then people feel the need to create an argument about 'hallowed ground' because they cannot simply say building a mosque nearby is RUDE.

Which is what it is. It's not wrong. It's not illegal. It certainly cant' be fought on any other grounds than the fact that it's just simply rude.

Life in a fallen world as a masquerade part - Paul Tripp

"Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn't present itself as evil, which is part of its draw."

- Paul Tripp from Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy (p.32)



I'm impressed with the accuracy of this list. Our daily prayer times lately have included readings from a number of different books. This one sunk in this morning.

Missions, evangelism, and strategy.

I've read the study of missions is divided into two parts (I believe I've mentioned this before):

1. The study of missions history
2. The study of missions theory

Both are fascinating to me. The first has become what I'm writing my masters thesis on. The second is my passion, my heartbeat, what I cant get out of my head. I think about the reasons we do mission, the way we do missions, the problems with missions, the way I can be a better missionary, what it will take to call others to missions, how to cast vision for missions etc... I think about it all day long - it's the top idea in my mind. Because it's what I do.

As I get older and learn more and more what I'm good at and what I'm passionate about I am finding that calling others to missions is the only thing I like better than missions. Going and telling people about Jesus is addicting, but then when you realize encouraging others to tell people about Jesus creates a much larger impact than you can as one person, it gets even more addicting. And so I spend even more of my time thinking about missions because I want to truly understand it and to someday be able to teach missions (my dream 5 - 10 years from now).

Lately one of the things on my mind has been the focus of my evangelism. I can return again and again to the same uninterested guy and share and share and share (and I think sometimes we're called to do this, often this is exactly what I do), or I can keep looking for people with hearts that are ready to hear and receive. My prayer recently has changed from "Lord lead those I share with to a saving knowledge of you," to, "Lead me to those you've already prepared to hear your truth." Whether you believe God 100% determines if a person will believe in him or God determines 10% and the person's own decision determines the other 90%, it doesn't really matter, either way you can agree there are those who have open hearts and those who do not. I'm begging the Lord to lead me (and my team) to those who are ready to hear and respond.

Not everyone I share with will be ready. And I'll keep sharing. Sometimes people here need to hear the gospel 4 or 5 times before they accept. There was a man here a few years ago I shared with who had heard the gospel before. I asked him if he believed and his response was, "Of course I believe. If you were the only one who preached it to me I wouldn't believe, but people from all over the world have told me of Jesus - he must be true!"

So I'm learning to be strategic in my evangelism. Like raising support you can bend people's arm hoping they'll eventually give money, or you can just move on - not take it personally - and pray the Lord leads you to those who are excited to give.

I can share with those who really aren't interested. I can preach the truth of their sin and of their need for God. But if they aren't ready to fall in love with Jesus then I am not going to be able to make them. Nor is it my job.

My job is to preach the truth. I LOVE that while that is the job of all of us, it's what I actually get paid to do. I pray the Lord leads me to those whom He has revealed Himself to, because without the Holy Spirit's work I cannot hope anyone will understand me, take me seriously, or know the truth.

"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." - 1 Thess 1:4-5

When we preach the word we depend on the Lord and His work. No matter what your theology on it. The gospel when it is received - it comes in power and with the Holy Spirit. When a soul is snatched from eternal damnation into a loving relationship of hope and joy in Jesus it did not happen without the enemy noticing. It was not a little thing. The Holy Spirit was violently involved in the battle.

It's a great joy that the Lord can lead us to places where the spirit has already been fighting, and we get to be there to reap the fruit.

The utter filth of our sin. And how we gloss over it.

"I'll never know how much it cost to see my sins upon that cross." - Tim Hughes

One of the great advantages of a lamb sacrifice for the average person was seeing the blood of the lamb pour down. Watching a lamb die by having it's throat cut, watching the blood spurt out of the side of the animal in beat with the heart until there was nothing left - this, I will argue, was good for man.

One of the most common sins in the world (today as well as in history) is pride. I speak from experience. Four years ago I did a 40 day fast praying for the Lord to reveal to me three thigns. I prayed and prayed and obstained from any food and over a month later had: "pride," "pride" and "pride." Now pride would be a lot less prevelent of a problem if we didn't think so little of our sin and so much of righteousness. We begin to think our sins really aren't that big of a deal, and we forget what Christ had to go through on the cross in order for us to be made clean. It was no little sacrifice. Seeing "The Passion of the Christ" was a bit of an eye opener for a week or two until we forgot about it; wrote it off as actors. But I imagine seeing a lamb slain in front of me, trying not to vomit at the horror of it, would be an excellent reminder to me of what my sin costs.

If I had been there and watched my Lord be nailed to a cross, if I had watched Him suffer and die, I imagine I would weigh my sins more heavily.

The truth is that little itty bitty sin in our lives - ignoring the screaming child in the distance, or the begging man at the stoplight. Or even lying to our daughters over something small about which they'll never know the difference. These are serious sins. Because even a sin this small is enough to separate us from God. It doesn't separate us from His love, but from a relationship with Him. Our littlest sin was not little.

I heard a story about an American pastor who took a lamb into church and slit its throat and let the blood run down on him and get everywhere just like it would have pre-Jesus. Obviously animal rights people were not pleased with this, and I imagine many in his congregation were permanently scarred. But I also imagine it had a deep lasting impact on people. Making them realize the filth of their sin, and what it takes to to atone for that sin.

Praise God for the Great Lamb who was slain so our sins can be taken away. Praise the Lord for the blood that flowed from Jesus' head, hands, side, and feet. Praise Him because He gave up His son in a horrible terrible death to do what it took to cover over the sins we think are no big deal. Because He loved us enough to give His son for things we think trivial.

Praise Him.

Real missionary work is done on our knees

"Solid, lasting missionary work is done on our knees. What i covet more than anything else is earnest, believing prayer, and I write to ask you to continue to put up much prayer for me and the wrok here in Tengyueh." - James Fraser

As my masters thesis will be dealing with James Fraser and James Adam you can expect to see more quotes like these on the things by which I'm impressed. And please, feel free to take this to heart substituting Tengyueh for where I am. Even if you don't know where that is.

Good as the enemy of the best

Answers.com spit out this:

Every respectable Pharisee proves the truth of the saying that ‘the good is the enemy of the best.’‥Christ insists that we shall not be content with a second-best, though it be good.
[1912 J. Kelman Thoughts on Things Eternal 108]

‘The good’, runs the old aphorism, ‘is the enemy of the best.’ Nowhere is this better exemplified than in connection with self-deceit.
[1939 R. A. Habas Morals for Moderns vii.]

The first one here is not at all what I'm going for. I think many times we are to be content with the second best - even if it's not good. Sometimes second best is our lot.

This second one I'm just not sure I understand.

I read this phrase "The good is often the enemy of the best" in relationship to getting our priorities straight in a book on James O. Fraser (brilliant dude if you haven't googled him). In his young years as a missionary he was sorting through where to be spending his time. I found this particularly interesting because it's something that I frequently struggle with.

Recently I feel the Lord has led me to drop certain things I do. I've wrestled with Him over it though because I feel these things are 'good' and therefore are probably worth my time. But this phrase struck me today, because it occurs to me that sometimes what is 'good' is the enemy of what is 'best' - particularly when those things become a distraction.

Now I'm not saying never watch TV again because it would be better for you to be reading your Bible. While there may be some of you who are called to drop your entertainment because it has led you away from the Lord, I doubt this is the driving concern with most of you. For me this means I need to drop some of the worthlessness I do online because it is a distraction away from where the Lord has called me when I'm on my computer. Sometimes I need to be focused on email or work, but often I need to be away from computer altogether, reading for school or something.

Often I get caught up in stupidity. And because it is 'good' I'm distracted from where the Lord wants me in what is 'best.'

What 'good' in your life has become the enemy of what you could be doing that would be 'best'?

On assaulting an armed fortress

When I was in Junior High School my father worked for the American Embassy abroad. Over four years we were stationed at two different embassies and both were markedly different. The second was simply a six story building on a busy road, but the first was a quarter mile fortress isolated from everything around it with huge walls and gates.

While at this first embassy, I heard a story that a Marine had thought he found a hole in the security and so he snuck out, dressed up, and snuck in to prove that it could be done relatively easily. I don't know if the story is true, but I do know that ever since then I've always wanted the opportunity to sit outside a fortress and strategically think through how to breach it Mission Impossible style.

This morning I'm thinking about this as I'm only two weeks away from my new job of trying to reach a whole city. I've been thinking for a year and half about how on earth a group of 5 men have any hope of reaching millions. I've mentioned before that we simply don't without serious intervention from the Lord. So we've decided to make prayer the center of what we're doing.

I see prayer as sitting at a table with the Lord, the fortress before us, and strategically planning with Him how we're going to attack, breach the city and take it in His name.

I'm excited.

How and why you should believe in Jesus. And telling others about Him.

Not everyone in ministry finds evangelism to be an integral part of what they're doing. However it very much is for me. Often times it's less about evangelism for the sake of my personal ministry as it is I need to take those I'm leading along with me to demonstrate evangelism. Also I love evangelism because it challenges you to really think through what you believe about your faith as you're doing it. By this I mean, before you "sell" what you believe you find yourself asking "do I really believe this person needs this?" because if they don't then you can avoid deep conversation and sometimes that's just easier. If you're not getting paid to sell shoes then you have to believe they really are wonderful to be telling your friends about them. So you ask yourself before you make the pitch, do I really care about talking about this? Is this really important to me?

Anyhow. Let me dive right in. Assume you're sitting in a chair across from me. I generally begin my evangelism with a question about your life. What you live for. Do you have hope? Do you care to have hope? What do you hope in?

It's actually surprising how few people can answer this. A good friend of mine once told me when he was visiting his family over a vacation his grandfather pulled him aside and asked him "Do you know the meaning of life?" Now my friend was only 17 at the time and just about to test into college. His answer was "No." Which isn't surprising, especially for a 17 year old.

So his grandfather asked, "Well, then will you continue to live?"

"Of course."

"What about when you're 30, if you still don't know the meaning of life will you keep living?"

"Well, you can't just stop living because you don't know the meaning of life. What should I do? Kill myself?"

"What about when you're 50? 80?"

"Yes, I'll keep living even if I don't know the meaning of life."

Then his Gandfather told him, "Well if you're 80 and you've lived your whole life without knowing what it's for, you've wasted your life."

I like to tell people this story and ask them if they agree with the grandfather's thoughts.

Often in discussing hope and satisfaction I tell people that I never knew what true satisfaction was until I was around 20. I genuinely believe apart from Christ there is no way to find true satisfaction. I believe that because I was even a Christian for a long time before I found satisfaction in life. It wasn't until I understood the reality of who God is that I found joy and satisfaction.

I believe in an all powerful Creator God. If a Creator God exists, and he created us, then it makes sense that He would understand us even better than we understand ourselves. After all He designed us. If He designed us then He knows what it takes for us to be happy. Often times I believe we're like children who think when we're hungry that we need candy. We can fill up on candy, but eventually if all we eat is candy we will get sick and wither away. In the same way we can grope around in the dark for what we think will satisfy us but it's only in listening to our designer that we will know how to truly live. How to truly find satisfaction.

I like to tell people the story of the gospel beginning with creation.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and then everything in them. God created EVERYTHING. Originally what God created was good. Perfect even. But you can look at the world around you and see that this world isn't perfect. Is your life perfect? Mine isn't. People lie, the car I drive is breaking down, sometimes I get food poisoning. My child was born with her hips too lose in her socket for her to be able to ever be able to walk unless a doctor intervenes and treats it. That's not perfect.

So why isn't it perfect now? Well when God originally created the earth he told man basically, "You can do absolutely anything you want. Nothing is wrong. Except you must not eat from this one tree." But man was prideful and wanted to be like God, so eventually he ignored God and ate from that tree. When he did he sinned.

See this creator God is perfect and he demands perfection from His creation. So now that man had sinned he wasn't perfect anymore was he? I'm not perfect. I've lied. I've cheated. I've hurt people. But God demands that man be perfect. Because man wasn't perfect anymore his relationship with God was broken. And everything in the world was broken. Because of man's decision we live in an imperfect, sometimes miserable, painful world. There is still good here because God's creation was good, but everything that was perfect is now broken, imperfect. This was never God's intention, but because of man's decision that's the world we live in.

Now like I said God is perfect and demands perfection. So God made a way for man to be perfect even though he is not so. You've probably heard the term scapegoat. A scapegoat is someone that's blamed for something they did not do to take the blame away from the person who did. This was God's method of making man perfect. He told the Jews they could take a lamb every year and slaughter it. In order to cleanse us God required blood. And this lamb brought forth blood when it was killed. The Lord said basically, "Even though you are not perfect, yet if you sacrifice this lamb I will choose to take your sin and put it on this lamb. Then when you kill the lamb the sin will die with it." While I'm sure this isn't exactly how it works, it's the general idea. God is saying, "Even though you aren't perfect, yet through this method I can choose to regard you as perfect." And therefore man was able to enter back into a relationship with God. Albeit it was still an imperfect relationship. After all, the day after the lamb was killed people would go out and sin again.

Now God loves man. And God knew this method couldn't last. People had to kill a lamb every year, and then the next day their hands were dirty with sin again. So God made a perfect lamb. Christians believe that Jesus came to earth as God's son. And because he was God's son he was 100% God, but also 100% man. He then lived a life without sin. We cannot live a life without sin because we're 100% man and 0% God. But since Jesus was man AND God he was able to live a perfect life. Then when he was killed on the cross God said he will regard Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice. The ultimate lamb. Because he was perfect his ability to take away sin was infinitely greater than that of a normal lamb.

God made it easy. He said if you choose to believe in His son Jesus he will take your sin and put it on Jesus. Jesus' death then took away our sin, and will continue to take away our sin. When we accept Jesus, every sin we've ever committed is forgiven. And any sin we do today or tomorrow is also forgiven. Jesus' death was sufficient to cover all of it.

But Jesus didn't just die. He also rose again three days later. He conquered death. And when we accept Jesus as our savior we will live again even after we die just like Jesus. We believe our rebirth will be into a heaven where there will again be no pain. No possibility of sin or hurt or pain or brokenness. When we believe in Jesus, God chooses to look at us, and even though we are sinful He looks at Jesus instead of us, and pardons us. He chooses to regard us as perfect even though we are not perfect. Therefore we can enter into a relationship with Him even now. This relationship wont be perfect until after we die and are reborn into a new heaven and new earth, but it is a relationship we are incapable of at all without Jesus.

When we know God, we can finally begin to understand Him and His plan for our lives. In a relationship with our Creator we can finally know how He intended for us to live. What will truly bring us joy, satisfaction, etc...

Now that we've been forgiven it also seems like we can do anything we desire. We can sin as much as we want and it's forgiven. Technically this is true. But the Christian doesn't do good things because he's fearful of bad consequences for his sin (he won't be blamed by God for his sin, as it's forgiven), instead the Christian does good because God told us to love as we've been loved. Jesus loved us so much that he took away all our sin. Therefore we love others, and do good because we were loved first. Our sins are forgiven so there is no reason to live in fear of the consequences of the wrong we have done or will do.

The Bible tells us if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the grave then we're saved.

If you say, "Jesus I accept you as my Lord, and I believe that you raised Jesus from the grave," then you're saved, you're a Christian. It's that simple.

The next step is to find other believers that can help you better understand God. A church is a good place to start. But please understand God chooses to regard Christians as perfect. He forgives our sins. But Christians are still people, and they are far from perfect. Entering a church is entering a place where a lot of sin has been forgiven. But the people are still sinners.

So have patience with them/us!

The Big Story

I'm wanting to a post on how I share my faith. But until I get to it, and while this isn't perfect, this is pretty interesting.

Why Jesus? Freedom.

As a person whose full time job description is ministry I spend a good amount of time engaged in conversation about why Jesus is the one true God. I wish I could share with you the culturally specific things I've learned about the almighty creator God but that will have to wait until my life is a little more... um... legal. But the question, "Why Jesus?" isn't limited to one culture. In college I frequently talked with a good friend of mine who still does not accept Christ as his Lord and savior. He would tell me, "Okay, I've come to the point where I believe it is undeniable that there is a God. But I don't know how to discern whether or not that God is Jesus."

There are some interesting arguments for why Jesus, and right now I want to discuss a few of them. However first I want to say that Jesus is the one true God. If you're at all wondering about it try this prayer, "Jesus, if you're truly the one true God, then I would love to know you. If you are truly God then please help me to be open to understanding that truth." The beauty of this prayer is that if God is not all-powerful then you've nothing to fear, he won't answer your prayer.

I cannot intervene supernaturally to convince you of God's power. However do consider that you may be reading this post as God may be using it to speak truth to you. How hard would you have to be hit over the head to hear truth? Just something to consider.

Enough preludes. Why Jesus? I think one of the best ways to answer this question is with the concept of freedom. Faith in Jesus is, to my knowledge, the only faith that preaches true freedom. Other religions may tout hope, or peace, or joy, or all kinds of things that I believe Jesus truly does provide, but only Jesus Christ preaches freedom. Why?

Lets give an example. Buddhists (along with many other religions) preach something along the lines of "You reap what you sow." This is comforting to man because we control our own fate. If we do good we will get good back. However if we do bad then we get bad back. To anyone who is truly honest with who they are the things they do this should be absolutely terrifying. I have been a Christian for some time and as such I actively strive to be a good man. But despite my best efforts I fail miserably from time to time. Looking someone in the eye and lying to them. Or telling them I'm aware of their authority but I'm choosing to ignore them just to see if they'll do anything about it. Later guilt sets in and I repent, but the point is, even if my many small good things outNUMBER my bad things, they will never ever outWEIGH them. The sin in which I have partaken is horrifying to say the least and I cannot (if I'm truly honest with myself) ever hope to cover over my wrongs with enough rights.

Because of this Buddhists live in constant fear that they need to be praying more. Just 10 more bows before this idol. Just three more trips to the temple. Just 10 more prayers and few more sticks of incense and then I can come back tomorrow and keep going. Maybe if I add a few more of this I'll pay back my sin and be in the clear.

This is slavery. I don't care how you look at it. This is slavery to fear.

Now Islam is a little different. There are the five pillars of faith, and you can be fairly sure that if you pray 5 times a day, do the Hajj, observe Ramadan etc... that you will be in good standing with God. However Allah is a god with almost man-like emotions. You may be the best Muslim ever, but when you die if Allah is in a bad mood you're still damned to hell. So you'd better not skip pryer, and hope you don't die on a bad day. Again, slavery to fear.

Now Christianity is different. Because from the get go the Christian God demands perfection. Then he looks at you says, "Buddy, there is no way you're adding up to perfect today, tomorrow, or ever." Therefore the Christian understands that he is a hopeless wreck, EXCEPT for what Jesus did. God, in sending his only Son to die on the cross, said, "Hey I know you're not good enough, that's why I'm giving my Son, whom I truly love as a sacrifice for you. When His blood is poured out I choose to look on His blood and forgive you." You see the Christian God demands blood, and he got it in Christ. Jesus said if we believe in Him our sins will be forgiven because that is the only requirement for the blood of Jesus to atone for us. So different than these other religions the Christian says, "I'm already beyond hope. I cannot strive to be good enough. I will never be good enough. But with Christ I'm good enough. And I can rest."

In fact this is almost a license to sin. Basically the Christian can sin the rest of his life and know he will still be in good standing with Christ (as long as he's repenting). The reason he chooses not to sin isn't fear of reaping what he sows, it's because he believes his relationship with the Creator of the universe and man actually knows how to live a better life than man himself. The Christian follows Jesus' commandments not out of fear, but out of an understanding that this God loves him and knows that sex is best in the confines of marriage because HE MADE marriage. HE MADE man. He knows what will satisfy. The Christian seeks those things to honor the Lord, and to live the most fulfilling life that can be lived.

This is not slavery. This is freedom. Paul tells us everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. The Christian has freedom because he knows there is nothing he can do to put himself in good or better standing with God. Because Christ has already done it. We cannot improve on what Christ did. We are perfect in God's eyes because he chooses to look on Christ instead of our sin.

This religion/philosophy is clearly not man made. If it were man made then man would have found a way to depend on himself. To save himself. To work hard enough to be good. But there is absolutely nothing man can do except to fall in the gracious arms of Christ. That's too backwards for man to have created. Freedom is something we instinctually know we should have, but slavery is something we build as a society because it's comfortable.

Why Jesus? Because it's only in Jesus that we're free. Because you're are damned to a life of fear and labor if you're serving any other God. In Christ and in Christ alone you will find freedom and rest.

Official ESV app for iPhone (free)

Pretty stoked about this.
Get it here.

Unfortunately I had just gotten used to my daily reading in the NET via Olivetree. But the ESV app is beautiful. Pressing a little windows 7 fonts though... weird.

Loving one another. (John 13:34)

"​A new commandment ​I give to you, ​that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" - John 13:34

This morning I read this and was thinking about the context. This is immediately after Jesus predicts His betrayal at the hand of one of those he is speaking to. This means that in order to love one another as Jesus loved his disciples (and loves us for that matter) we are to love even those who will betray us. And even those who have betrayed us. Jesus knew he would be betrayed. But he loved Judas anyhoo.

That makes this just more difficult. We should stand out as the following verse says, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

That means the fat kid in your youth group. The girl in church who sings at the top of her lungs way off key. Tambourine lady. And worst of all, the guy you just don't like because he's weird and a close talker.

invincibility (this post will have little to nothing to do with the title)

I feel overdue for an opus of any kind. It's been months, even over a year since I've written regularly on this blog (I've been active as can be on sieveandsand.com and my twitter) and I think there are a number of reasons.

1. I locked myself into a form I thought useful but ultimately restricted me so much I burned out on it and then stopped writing. That is, I took a verse and wrote about it. Something I still wish I was doing regularly and so I haven't changed the format of the blog dramatically because I like it so much, but it just isn't happening.

2. I was wrapped up in fame and glory. I love to write and one of my biggest motivations for writing is the hope that others will read it. This, in itself, is not anything shocking or even bad I don't think, but it can become an idol and was for a long time. The good thing about said idol was it got me writing, and writing, and writing. The bad thing was my content began to suffer as a result of my motivations.

3. Insert other reason here. Time, motivation, etc...

Life is good right now. We're on the cusp of moving to another city in this great land and starting a ministry there. Everything you can imagine from church planting to young professional ministry. I'm unofficially leading this team at this point and I'm pretty excited about the things we'll get to do.

Thinking about starting a new ministry in a new place has me dwelling a lot on philosophy of ministry. I love the idea of having a city of several million as a target goal for a ministry. I love thinking through how we're going to reach that many people, thinking through the resources we have and the plan the Lord has.

Bottom line: I cannot believe I get paid to think about how to forcefully advance the Kingdom of God and put it into action.

I friggin love my job.

And the only thing I can imagine ever leaving this field for is to teach others what I've learned and hope somehow that can help them to be effective in the field. Can you imagine a scope bigger than millions?

I can. Billions.

How do you reach billions?
Educate the millions.

At least thats my plan. But I can't educate until I have experience. I want to plant absurd amount of churches, and reach ridiculous numbers of people for the Kingdom. I want to hear about what the movement is doing and find it difficult to believe because God is at work.

How do you do that?

I believe there are a number of things we can do strategically to reach a city, but I think the two primary things are prayer and evangelism. Really prayer is enough. If we're praying our brains out for the city then in our time wrestling with the Lord we'll learn His heart for the city. We'll be begging for Him to soften people's hearts and He'll do it, because that is His heart.

If we're really praying we'll be doing evangelism out of the passion for the Lord we're finding in prayer. We'll be entering into the battle in a profound way and not messing around. I want our people to be praying the way the devil thinks.

That is, if the devil says sickness, then we pray for health. If the devil says death, we pray for life. If the devil says lost, we pray saved. If the devil says money is god, we pray they would know the one true God.

Our plan at this point is for the few couples that are starting out on this team to gather together daily for an hour of prayer (this is outside of our personal time) so that prayer becomes the foundation on which the ministry is built. We can have great strategy, great hopes, great resources, great plans, great everything, but if we are not following after the Father's heart we wont get anywhere. Prayer will lead us to His heart.

Then we'll be doing evangelism personally and teaching the believer's we already have connection with to passionately pray and evangelize. If we truly believe that this one God, our God, is the absolute only thing that can satisfy then we will preach His name is a powerful way. I'm excited to be a part of that.

I'm excited to call others to that.

I'm excited to see where my ideas stand and fall. And I am excited to see God do things before my very eyes that I do not believe.

We worship the almighty, awesome, creator of the universe. He can save. He does save. And he will save. I get paid to be a part of that. I cant believe I get paid to do this.

bible study

today i ran into a guy i work closely with at a coffee shop not far from where i'm staying (i'm on vacation visiting the city where he lives) and he had open his study bible and a notebook. he was doing a study on God's love to share with a friend of his.

i've always envied people that sit around and study the word like that. i've tried a few times myself, its not for lack of trying. it's just never been my thing. i'm not sure why it doesn't work for me and i end up wondering about my walk with the Lord.

i'd love to sit down this next week and just study 1 peter. but i imagine i'll probably read it once or twice through and call it a week.

i'm curious to see.

I'm learning

My prayer life alone wont sustain me. I've known time in the word alone doesn't sustain me, but this is sort of new for me. My prayer life has been really quite nice lately, but I'm not getting anything from my time in the word... I'm slowly starving... and it's rough.

On another note my PhD was knocked down to an MA locally. Turns out there is a law... yea... a law... that says a foreigners cannot do an MA and PhD tied together unless the course of study is medicine. Seeing as how I'm studying Christianity turns out I cant do it. I was pretty bummed. But you win some you lose some. An MA is still a degree, although it puts me about 4 years further from being able to teach....

The necessity of prayer in ministry.

I'm increasingly convinced that the secret to ministry is prayer and
evangelism. But primarily prayer trumping all things because in prayer
we are seeking the Lord and seeking his heart. We will be doing
evangelism amongst other things and our ministry will begin to look
more and more like God. We will daily be reminded of our dependence on
him and that is success in ministry dependance on God in all things.