Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Monkey See, Monkey Do in Matters of Faith Too

Recently my almost 2 year old son has moved into a new routine where he basically will mimic almost everything I do in order to be like me. It was quite humorous and cute at first and still is, but I realized the other day that he is watching everything that I do and will mimic both the good and the bad. In order to test this theory out, I gave my wife/his mom a kiss. My son immediately goes over and also gives his mom a kiss. I then threw a plastic cup across the room and my son immediately threw a plastic cup across the room.

The majority of the time it is still cute and funny when I am doing things for him to intentionally mimic but I have realized that he is watching at all times. So if I am loving and serving my wife in the way that I should then he is watching this and will likely mimic me. If I am not loving and serving my wife in the way that I should then he too will likely mimic this behavior. The song, "God is watching us..." comes to mind except for the fact that God knows the difference between right or wrong when my son does not at this point.

Although it is fun to watch my son try to be like me by mimicking me and even at times trying to literally fill my shoes, I want him to mimic me for things in life that truly matter. I want my son to see the faith and love that I have for God. I want my son to mimic me reading the Bible and praying to God. I want my son to mimic a lifestyle of sacrifice and worship to the one true God.

You see my son has not been told to mimic me but he just naturally does it because I am his dad and at least for this moment in his life, I am the person he looks up to as his role model. In the same way I think about the guys that I am discipling in India. Most often what I model for them, not tell them, will be what they will mimic. So if I am telling them to treat their wife one way but they see me treat my wife another way, they will do what I do not what I say.

In the same way, when I am equipping them to be sent out to plant churches, they will model what I myself do more than what I say. This is one reason that I like to spend times with the group of men I am investing with outside of just trainings. This allows me to live life on life with these men where I can model, assist, and watch as they go on to do great things for God.

We all model our lifestyle for someone, whether we choose that or not. So who is it that is watching your life and modeling the way the live off of you? Is this something you would be proud to admit? Or are there definite areas of concern that you want to start modeling in a more holistic way?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ministry Grid: A New Leadership Training Approach for Churches

And he personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry... 
-Ephesians 4:11-12

The need for training of leaders across all platforms has always existed within the church, but often times the church has failed at raising up leaders in all spheres of the local church. Coming in May 2013 Ministry Grid is going to help that problem go away as each church can find a customizable way to train all members in every aspect of ministry in order to both effectively reach their city and the nations.



For more info go to ministrygrid.com

Friday, January 25, 2013

Christian Apologetics in A World Community


The following is a summary/review I submitted recently for a Philosophy course.

In Christian Apologetics in A World Community, William Dryness has written a book that attempts to show that God requires a total response involving mind, will and imagination actively participating in his ongoing program. Dryness unpacks his book by dividing it into two parts: part one develops an apologetic perspective; part two meets specific challenges to Christianity. Although Dryness believes that apologetic arguments should grow out of specific context; he sees that the major philosophical questions are global in their perspective. Dryness shows in his book that Christianity is able to provide a satisfying total perspective on the world in a way that no other religion can do.

In part one, Dryness does a thorough job of introducing apologetics and then giving a historical sketch from the New Testament and all through church history of apologetics. In regards to Christian apologetics in the world community, Dryness is accurate in his assessment that there should be at least three elements found: empirical, logical, personal. Dryness ends part one by asserting that Christianity is the project of God. Here he has set Christianity on the world stage, where it is proclaiming to tell everyone what God has done, is doing and will do in the world, and what as man our response to God should be. Dryness accurately shows that when compared with the alternative views, Christianity provides a more satisfying framework for life and reality.

In part two, Dryness is sincere and transparent about specific challenges to Christianity in the global realm. He does so by not writing off these challenges, but rather facing them head on as possibilities, but then shows why Christianity is the ultimate foundation. Instead of seeing most of these things in opposition to Christianity, Dryness shows how within the world we see where science is possible, where art is a source of delight, and where history is a tapestry weaving together all of human life. He shows how ultimately all of these flow out of one stream, God that Christians drink freely from.

Before concluding, Dryness is careful to show that Christians do not boast or rest at night because of the reasons for God. Instead Christians boast and rest at night because the heavenly father cares for and directs the course of creation and history. Although Dryness could have gone deeper with some of the objections to Christianity, he does a great job of making a clear and distinct differences and rebuttals to them from a Christian perspective.

In his book, Dryness attempts to show that God requires a total responsive mind, will and imagination actively participating in his ongoing program. After careful reading and evaluation of the work presented by Dryness, I too believe that God requires this total response involving mind, will, and imagination. In this short evaluation it can be seen the reasons behind both my conclusion and my agreement with Dryness is the reasons provided give full reason and assurance to the claims made by both.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?


The following is part of a summary/review that I did recently for a Philosophy course.

In God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? John C. Lennox, professor of mathematics & philosophy of science at Oxford University, has written a clear and concise book that answers perhaps one of the most important questions of the modern day, “Has Science Buried God?” Lennox holds nothing back in answering and tackling the common arguments against God the Creator, which are led by the so-called New Atheists of the day with the likes of Richard Dawkins and Peter Akins. Lennox demonstrates the commonly found flaws in atheistic arguments against theism; and at the same time provides reason, evidence, and arguments for theism.

Lennox brings out that the argument is not so much science versus religion as is commonly thought, but that it really comes down to differing world views. There are those that hold to naturalism and those holding to theism. In his expertise, Lennox does a careful examination of science and shows how consistent science is within a theistic world.

In the preface of the book Lennox distinguishes that he is not arguing so much for what is known as intelligent design, but rather that he is arguing for intelligent causation, that there is scientific evidence for design. He goes on to not only show that there is reason to believe so, but that there is also reason to believe that there is one behind the design that science has observed, God the Creator. Lennox also distinguishes that there is a huge difference between some scientists being at war with God and science itself. The conclusion he draws out of this is that individual scientists such as Dawkins do not represent science as a whole.

Lennox shows that science not only fits within a theistic world, but that it even shows that there is a purpose behind creation. Although science can point to an ultimate purpose behind things, Lennox points out that science stops there because it cannot tell us the purpose. In other words, science is unable to answer the existential questions of life. Lennox shows that science in this way is limited because it only reveals what may have happened.

In the latter part of the book, Lennox examines where macroevolution deflates under careful examination, which cannot explain the origin of information in a DNA code. Dawkins and those like him believe that introducing God in the DNA conversation would mean an end to science. Lennox, a man of science himself proves the illogical thinking behind this as all living organisms are made up of DNA and that there has to be some form of intelligence behind all coding, theists call this something God.

In conclusion, Lennox asserts that there are only two presuppositions for all people. “Either human intelligence owes its origin to mindless matter; or there is a Creator.” In the end, he shows that science has not buried God, but rather that science ultimately points to the existence of God and is itself validated by God’s existence.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Truth with Love: The Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer


The following is part of a summary/review that I did recently for a Philosophy course.

In Truth with Love: The Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer, Bryan A. Follis does a thorough job of giving a historical understanding to the life and work of Francis Schaeffer. He does so by introducing Schaeffer in context and then giving a historical overview of Church History, which sets up Schaeffer. Follis specifically focuses his attention on Calvin and the Reformed tradition because Schaeffer was a man greatly influenced by the Reformed tradition.

Although recognized as an apologist, Follis points to Schaeffer’s own life in showing that he considered himself more of an evangelist. In fact he directly linked apologetics with evangelism. For Schaeffer the purpose and reason behind apologetics was to see people embrace Jesus as Lord.

Follis took the core of Schaeffer’s life and put it on display in a way that he would have wanted. For instance showing that Schaeffer firmly believed that one must meet people in terms of where they are spiritually. Once meeting them he held that knowledge of understanding was needed prior to salvation. Follis’ view of Schaeffer is of an apologists who truly cared for the individual and seeing them follow Jesus through love, not based on some argument in a system of logic. It cannot be said enough and Follis continued to return to the point that Schaeffer operated on a principle of love, which made his apologetics successful because of his focus on the individual.

In order to give a full view of the life and ministry of Schaeffer, Follis also directly deals with those critical of him. Many mistakenly refer to Schaeffer as pre-suppositional apologists, which Follis argues is not the case, but also points out that at times he would borrow from different types of apologist if it would speak to the individual or audience that he was engaging in dialogue. Often times Schaeffer was also accused of being a rationalist. The author gives good reason that in one thinking this of Schaeffer is simply an inadequate read of him.

It is clear in the end that Follis is a fan of Schaeffer as there are many instances in his analysis of him where it comes across as he is giving a complete defense for Schaeffer. Many times he easily writes off those that are critical of Schaeffer, without giving them much of a hearing. Follis takes time to mention the son of Schaeffer and shift much of the blame to him for those critical of his father, but does not present substantial evidence for this.

In spite of this, Follis accomplishes his goal of presenting Francis Schaeffer as an evangelist who merely uses apologetics in order to reach his audience with a message of love that would hopefully draw them to Jesus. I agree with Follis’ assessment that the apologetics of Schaeffer are still vibrant and relevant for today’s audience. Love between Christians has always been the true mark of a believer and it would serve the church well if we all operated under the principle of love as Schaeffer did.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Adopting a Cooperative Model of Missions

**The following post came out of a conversation with a former professor of mine on how to best do cooperative missions.**

In regards to overseas ministry I am currently a "professional" in the eyes of man, meaning that at this moment in time I am getting paid to do the work of vocational ministry in a career fashion. Obviously I am okay with this enough to be in this position but I also believe that this professionalism has hindered mission efforts over the years. The reason being that we have set up this idea of the professional minister or missionary being the one that does the work of the ministry, which alienates the average lay person in the church separating a "call" to ministry for the select few. In this way we are not operating together as one body represented in the global church.

I have written on this subject many times in the last year so I do not intend to rehash all of the previous posts; but rather to take a look at a different approach on how adopting a cooperative model of missions can look because cooperatively is how missions should be done. So, how does a cooperative model of missions look?

For starters, it can start by being willing to cooperate with any Christ-centered evangelical church that is willing to answer Christ's call to obedience and self-sacrificing love. In moments like these we put aside secondary issues for cooperation, which is why they are considered secondary anyway. If we really are all part of one spiritual body in Christ then we must be willing to work together on a more cooperatively level globally. 

A former professor of mine says it like this, "Thus our desire as missionaries is simply to follow the Scriptures, which stress the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church - not organizations, methods, programs, or personalities." In this way, doing it the way that the New Testament church does it has to become more than just a slogan for us. "One essential for missions is prayer and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit." 

This professor goes on to say that we cannot allow our results to be dependent upon the large, well-financed organizations as many do, but rather be simple obedient followers of Jesus who are on mission in today's world. As a Christ follower you/we should all be in the business of doing missions, in spite of not being professionals because this is what we have all been called to do, both locally and globally.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lessons from an International Church Planting Cohort

For the past two weeks I have had the privilege of finishing up my final two courses to obtain an M. Div. in International Church Planting. One of the benefits to receiving this Masters is also doing it alongside and with a cohort of international church planters that are literally serving all over the globe. These two weeks have been a blessing for me and my family as in between classes we have been able to fellowship with other families and share life on life.

During these two weeks there have been many takeaways for me but I just want to share a few of those in no particular order:

1. If you are considering going to seminary, consider Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.

This school has done a tremendous job of training and equipping their students to leave Wake Forest better prepared for whatever type of career/ministry that they enter. In my current context they have done a tremendous job in helping prepare international church planters to think theologically in their implications of missiological practices in a biblically faithful and contextualized way. Aside from that if you decide to do an M.Div. in International Church Planting, professors and the president himself will come to spend some time with you on the field.

2. Staying Faithful to the Word of God is What Should Drive Your Missiology

One aspect that I have always appreciated about my seminary is that we read those outside of our own camp. I will not mention the particular books we looked at during week one, but we discussed how some people can go in a direction that is not biblical faithful and we wonder why? Well it all starts when you stop allowing the Bible to be the driving force behind your missiology.

3. Be Open and Honest with Your Struggles and Successes in This Environment

At time because of social media it can appear that we are all doing great and God is using us and big and mighty ways with nothing ever going wrong. While I do believe that God is using us all in strategic ways, we all are also struggling in many ways. For some it is just hard to live in the places where we live. For others we live in a spiritually dark place. For others we have dealt with many spiritual attacks. The list could continue, but the point is that we all are currently or have at some point struggled since moving overseas and this is a safe place and environment to share with each other.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How Do You Really Know if You've Been Saved?

I received an email this week with an invitation to receive an advance copy of J.D. Greear's new and thought provoking book, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved. I am excited for this opportunity as I have been looking forward to this book coming out for months as I see it being a very necessary subject for those within the church today, especially those like myself that have a church background and were converted at a young age. 


"Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart" Book Promotion from Josh Sliffe.

In the book Greear looks at the question, How do you know, really know, if you've been saved? Greear addresses the important but rarely explored topic of Christians who doubt their salvation or have an unclear notion of what “asking Jesus into your heart” really means. And Greear wastes no time getting straight to the point, engaging with readers on a topic that will appeal to both teens and adults as they seek to solidify their faith in 2013.

Once I work through the full book I plan on posting a review here on my blog sometime within the first week of February. If you are interested in getting a copy of the book yourself, pre-orders are available now for the February 1st release date.

Friday, January 11, 2013

10 Things to Pray for My Wife via DesiringGod


Men, if most of us are honest with ourselves, we do not pray for our wives as we should but thankfully Desiring God has compiled a list to help us with that. Here is a list of 10 things to pray for your wife from Desiring God. If you would like a free print version click here.

10 Things to Pray for My Wife
  1. 1  God, be her God — her all-satisfying treasure and all. Make her jealous for your exclusive supremacy in all her affections (Psalm 73:24–25).
  2. 2  Increase her faith — give her a rock-solid confidence that your incomparable power is only always wielded for her absolute good in Christ (Romans 8:28–30).
  3. 3  Intensify her joy — a joy in you that abandons all to the riches of your grace in Jesus and that says firmly, clearly, gladly: “I’ll go anywhere and do anything if you are there” (Exodus 33:14–15).
  4. 4  Soften her heart — rescue her from cynicism and make her tender to your presence in the most complicated details and a multitude of other needs you’ve called her to meet (Hebrews 1:3).
  5. 5  Make her cherish your church — build relationships into her life that challenge and encourage her to walk in step with the truth of the gospel, and cause her to love corporate gatherings, the Lord’s Table, and the everyday life of the body (Mark 3:35).
  6. 6  Give her wisdom — make her see dimensions of reality that I would overlook and accompany her vision with a gentle, quiet spirit that feels safe and celebrated (1 Peter 3:4).
  7. 7  Sustain her health — continue to speak your gift of health and keep us from presumption; it is by blood-bought grace (Psalm 139:14).
  8. 8  Multiply her influence — encourage and deepen the impact she has on our children. Give her sweet glimpses of its fruit. Pour her out in love for our neighbors and spark creative ways to engage them for Jesus’s sake
    (John 12:24).

  9. 9  Make her hear your voice — to read the Bible and accept it as it really is, your word... your very word to her where she lives, full of grace and power and everything she needs pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
  10. 10  Overcome her with Jesus — that she is united to him, that she is a new creature in him, that she is your daughter in him. . . No longer in Adam and dead to sin; now in Christ and alive to you, forever (Romans 6:11).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Four Motives for Being on Mission

I just received my copy of Dr. David A. Black's book Will You Join The Cause Of Global Missions? this week and could not put this short book down as I believe Black speaks prophetically about the task of missions globally. As Dr. Alvin L. Reid puts in the Foreword: Dave lives as a missionary because he is convinced that every follower of Christ above all else, regardless of vocation or location, has the high honor of serving Christ as a missionary. 

In the introduction Black challenges readers by asking two questions. First, would you like to become part of the Big Story of what God is doing worldwide? Second, would you like to be on mission for Him? He then lays out four powerful motives that are necessary in order to have the courage to fully embrace and answers these questions with a resounding YES!

1. Missions Is the Calling of Every Follower of Jesus

Don't think for a moment that it is more honorable to go to seminary or become a pastor than it is to serve God faithfully as a nurse or salesperson. Missions is the intended vocation for the whole people of God, no matter what your occupation may be.

2. Missions Is At Your Doorstep

"Global" missions means just that - the mission field is anywhere in the world, including right where you live. We need to learn to view our employees, our co-workers, our fellow students as our mission field. We cannot leave the work to the so-called professionals. 

3. Missions Is A Global, Cooperative Movement 

We need to repent of our independent, "let's do it our way" mentality. Failing to understand and connect with God's already-at-work global purpose is one of the greatest mistakes we can make as churches.

4. Missions Requires A Counter-Cultural Lifestyle

We must learn how to live purposefully and give strategically. In the Kingdom of God what matters is obedience. In other words, the essence of the kingdom is not theology (word) but practice (deed). 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gospel and Mission Conference


*The following is from SEBTS.edu

Gospel and Mission. In 1 Cor. 15, Paul says that the gospel is of “first importance.” It is the Big E on the eye chart. It is central in the Christian life and in the church’s mission to the world. In this conference, the desire is to exalt the God of all grace, better understand Christ’s work on our behalf, see how the gospel relates to all of life, and discuss the church’s call to saturate the world with the good news.

You are invited to join this year’s conference that will feature plenary speakers Daniel Akin, Bruce Ashford, Tom ElliffC.J. Mahaney, and Darrin Patrick. We will also have a host of other gifted teachers in our breakout sessions, who will address a number of issues related to Gospel and Mission.

The 2013 20/20 Collegiate Conference, Gospel and Mission, will be held February 1-2 on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. For more info go to sebts.edu
The cost of the conference is $35.
Students may attend for a discounted price of $30

Friday, January 4, 2013

Putting Things into Perspective

It is no secret that for the last year my family and I have been living and serving in India. We have had our ups and downs but as each month passes we get more used to our "normal" life here. But recently when we took a family vacation to Argentina my eyes were thoroughly open to what we had actually gotten used to.

This ranged from spiritual things to petty things and everything in between. My immediate thought was that at one point going directly to Argentina from the US for most Americans would be difficult. There would be much culture shock, different foods, language, etc. But suddenly going from India to Argentina it seemed like it was the US. The food was amazing, there were little people compared to India, it was so clean and refreshing.

Now, what changed? My perspective. Argentina had not suddenly transformed to be the exact same as the US and in fact my sister is still dealing with the culture shock of living in Argentina but the perspective of leaving India and going to Argentina was/is vastly different than leaving India to go to Argentina.

I point this out because many times we get used to our normal pattern of life wherever we live and this also invades our church culture. We are so used to what seems normal that we often times have to take ourselves completely outside of the situation to get a different perspective. Take for example our church planting efforts in the US, which I think it is great that so many people want to plant churches now but the way in which we are doing it looks vastly different than how it is being done in other parts of the world.

This does not make it wrong but I think going to other places to see how it is done, for example India, helps put a perspective on how we all globally could be doing a better job. It is not that most of these efforts are wrong but often times we are focusing on the wrong things when we are planting.

Ed Stetzer just wrote a piece on his blog about a lesson that can be learned from International Church Planting namely to keep it simple and reproducible. This is typically one thing that the North American church planting efforts are not doing as a result we in North American have never seen a Church Planting Movements like those being seen around the world.

So I agree with Stetzer that first we need more people willing to step up and take the leap of planting and then we should be willing to consider all options when planting but especially take a lesson from our International Planters in keeping it simple and reproducible. Because by keeping it simple and reproducible we will not only see new churches planted but a church planting movement that changes the entire culture of the third largest country in the world, USA, with the third largest amount of unreached people groups.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Planning the Year Ahead

Like most of you, as we start 2013 there are things in my life that I strive to see different one year from now. I have never been a big new years resolution guy, not because I don't necessarily keep them but because I see them often as a massive trend where we all want to compete with other people because we too are going to have the best workout plan, eat better, stop drinking alcohol, read the whole Bible, etc.

None of those things are bad but most often people set themselves up for a massive failure weeks or months in. Most people if they are lucky make it right up until Super Bowl weekend and what starts with a splurge away from their new lifestyle ends up being the downward spiral to their old lifestyle.

So, no I do not usually have new years resolutions but rather I set forth some new years goals and aspirations in my planning of my next year. This planning typically will be in two to three broad categories depending on my year. For example here is a few of this years broad categories:

1. Family - Andrea and I plan on taking some time in January to look at the year ahead and plan as to what our monthly life will look like as a family. We will pencil things on each others calendars as far as my traveling/ministry schedule, her ministry schedule, when we will vacation, etc. This allows for us to be on the same page and also be prepared as the year unfolds.

2. Ministry - I plan on taking some time in January to seek God and plan what my training schedule will look like for the next year as I invest in a group of men in India to equip them to go on to plant churches in places where there are none. This next year promises to be rewarding as God has brought a group of hopefully faithful men into my midst.

3. Writing - 2012 proved to be the best year yet of blogging in regards to content, audience, and interaction. My goal for last year was simply three posts a week and I managed to meet that. Hopefully by February I will re-launch the blog with a new look and feel that will be better than ever. Along with this will likely come of Facebook page so that you do not ever miss any of the content that is put out. Not sure if this will be the year or not but I have also been encouraged by many to release an e-book.

So have your new years resolutions if you must but make them realistic. And remember to look at your year ahead and plan with some goals in mind on what you want to see accomplished in your own life but ultimately for Kingdom purposes.