Monday, January 26, 2015

What I Am Currently Reading

From time to time I like to give a little insight into what I am currently studying or reading as a way to give some insight into where I am being challenged and to make recommendations for others. My reading seems to have slowed down in the last year, which naturally happens at the stage of life I am in with a family and being bi-vocational. Nevertheless, I am still always working my way through a few books at a time and some of them are a reread.

Here are the few books I am working my way through now:
Center Church: Doing Balance, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Timothy Keller


Prayer: Seeking Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller


Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary) Scott McKnight

Friday, January 23, 2015

Table 1Day: Disciple-Making Movements

From time to time we at the Table Network host one day workshops on seeing the gospel go forward. The next one day is scheduled for February 20-21 for those in the Chicago area, where we will be looking at how you can see a Disciple-Making Movement in your unique context. We would love to have you join us as we see how God has invited every believer into his story of making disciples. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

10 Things to Pray for Ones Wife

Below is a list of ten things to pray for ones wife from Desiring God. I posted this last January as I was beginning my year, but needed the reminder as I imagine most men do. 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). 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Through the Eyes of Spurgeon

Ever since living in one of the film cities of the U.S. I have been a fan of good documentaries and personally have friends that have worked on some. Documentaries are a good way to gain knowledge on a topic or a person, be entertained, and often stirred to action. Recently Stephen McCaskell released a new documentary, Through the Eyes of Spurgeon, on the life of Charles Spurgeon.

Charles Spurgeon was a 19th century Reformed Baptist pastor who is considered by many one of the greatest preachers of all time. His life and ministry continue to have a great impact around the world today. This is a great documentary for those that know little about Spurgeon as you will get a look at his childhood, conversion, ministry, marriage, controversies and death.

Watch it for free here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

4 Mission Motivators

One of the most concise books I have come across on global missions is Dr. David A. Black's book Will You Join The Cause Of Global Missions? In the book Black speaks prophetically about the task of missions globally. As Dr. Alvin 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 12, 2015

Questions to Help See A Disciple Making Movement in 3 Spaces

Since joining the Table Network  last month I have received many questions from people wanting to learn more about us and what we are all about. Over the coming months I plan on sharing some posts that give some general insight to help bring some clarity. At the Table Network we see life happening in three spaces. The first space is where you go to your norms and networks. Your norms are where your home is, the school your kids go to, the coffee shop you hit every morning, your workplace, your gym, pub, etc. These are the spaces you naturally frequent because that is where life takes you. Your networks are different, they are the spaces you intentionally go out of your way to enter: the school your serving, the place you volunteer, the weekly karaoke night at the bar, the softball league you play in, the pier you fish, etc. 

The second space is where you connect with people in places you have created or places you have been invited to. This can be a game night, a party, or even a publicized event on doing a Q&A about Jesus. The third space is the place where believers pause and are equipped and encouraged to follow Jesus. Note this space can happen anywhere, and should be conducive to both learning and freeing people up for 1st and 2nd space ministry with those outside the faith.

It is helpful no matter if you are going, connecting or pausing to ask yourself a number of questions to help see a disciple making movement in all three spaces:

  • What are the norms and networks where I go?
  • How do I connect with people in places I have created or been invited?
  • How do I share the good news in my norms, networks, and the places where I connect?
  • How do I pause and make disciples who disciple others?
  • How do I form groups in these spaces that will reproduce?
  • How do I develop and multiply local leaders in these spaces?

These five questions can be asked and answered by anyone, these are not for some elite level of seminary trained Christians. In other words you don't necessarily need to change the routine of your normal life in order to implement these, instead you have freedom to start asking these questions and see what happens as you answer them, you may be surprised! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 List of 50 Countries Where Persecution of Christians is Most Severe

World WatchList has released their 2015 data on the top 50 countries where persecution of Christians for religious reasons is most severe. Please pray for our brothers and sisters around the world that face this reality, not that the persecution would necessarily stop, but that they would be faithful to endure in the midst of it. As Christians we know that persecution is the norm and it should not surprise us when it happens. It is possible that there will be a day that the church in America will not have all of its freedoms?

My readers should all know that India holds a special place in my heart as it was once home. When I see it on the list, I do not only see a number, but faces of friends that may be facing hardship due to their walk with Jesus as I type. Be thankful for your religious freedom and join me on my knees for our brothers and sisters around the world!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bible Reading Plan for the Year Ahead

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12

It is the beginning of 2015, which means that it is time for people to make resolutions that will barely make it into February before they give in and return to old habits like a dog to its own vomit. Over the years we have all been guilty of not keeping our resolutions and many people have quit making them altogether. Instead of a resolution, I want to encourage you to make a daily habit of reading the Word of God and instead of doing this on your own and just picking up a random place, YouVersion has created a number of Bible reading plans to get you started and help you along the way.

A couple of years ago a friend and I committed to reading through the New Testament in a year together. The New Testament is not the only Scripture that I read, but it was one plan that kept me on track and that I had someone to keep me accountable as I went through the year. If you are not familiar with YouVersion than you need to check them out because they have tailored reading plans for everyone, eliminating any excuse.

The app is one of the most downloaded every year and it makes it easy to have the Bible with you and read it anywhere you are in the day. The potential danger that I found with a plan is that it can easily turn into something you just check off in the day because there is literally a little circle in the app that you check off after you complete the reading for the day. Many people are uncertain of what they are looking for when reading a passage of Scripture or how to get anything out of it; so I want to encourage you to ask these questions when reading through the daily passage.

Participative Bible Study Questions

1. What does this teach me about God?

2. What does this teach me about man?

3. Is there a sin to avoid or forsake?

4. Is there a command to obey or an example to follow?

5. What will I do as a result of what I have learned?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Planning for 2015

Last week I wrote about how what one does at the beginning of the year sets the tone for the entire year. A large part of setting the tone is planning for the year ahead. It helps me if I write things out that are a priority in my life and then I plan a time to get alone with my wife where we will discuss them and pray over them together in our joint planning. This year our planning will look a little different than it did last year because I have accepted two new jobs recently that are vastly different. 

Below is an example of a few of the broad categories that I will plan for as we start the new year:


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 see where it is that I really feel like he is leading me to put my time and energy. A large part of this will revolve around my role as a regional director with the Table Network, but I still want to take time to hear from the Lord. I also picked up a regular preaching schedule last year and feel that will only grow this year.

3. Writing - 2014 proved to be another growing year for this blog in regards to content, audience, and requests to do reviews and host giveaways. My goal for last year was three posts a week, regular giveaways, and switching over to a better format. Many have encouraged me to take my blog and writing to the next level this year and I am seriously considering it. I am considering releasing my first e-book this year on what it looks like to live as an everyday missionary in the context where God has placed you. It will be highly advertised if it happens, but keep your eyes and ears open for when this takes place.

Friday, January 2, 2015

What You Do At the Beginning of the Year Sets the Tone for the Entire Year

Photo credit to someecards.com
It's that time of year again where people make resolutions to start the new year, most will not be kept past the first week, which is one reason that I typically do not make resolutions at the beginning of the new year. Most people make resolutions with wishful thinking that the new year will be different from the previous year because this time they really "mean" it; but most people would be wrong and only realize that in December when they see they have failed, again. I bet the majority of people cannot even remember their new years resolutions by summer. 

There is nothing wrong with having resolutions at the beginning of the year, but we are foolish to think that anything will be different the first week of January from the last week of December based on writing down a list alone. Rather than having the resolutions that we cannot remember the first week of February, we should put in place a pattern of life that we desire or attain to live the next year. My suggestion is to make this pattern of life something that is within a reachable goal that you may already obtain partially, but want to obtain fully. For example, I want to lose fifteen pounds this year, but desiring it alone will not make it happen. Truthfully, I already lost three of the fifteen that I would like to lose so the goal is attainable.

How is it attainable? Through a purpose, goal, and action plan. The purpose in my case is to live a healthier lifestyle. My goal is to lose fifteen pounds of weight. And my plan of action is to eat a little better, limit my calorie intake, and exercise on a regular basis. Notice that my plan is attainable because it is realistic and reachable, not unrealistic such as becoming a vegan and exercising everyday for an hour.

What I have come to learn is that what you do at the beginning of the year sets the tone for the rest of the year. This holds true in all matters of life, spiritual included.

It's time to set the traditional resolutions at the beginning of the year down and instead remember that you are setting yourself up for the rest of the year. If you set yourself up realistically then you will likely have more success at whatever it is that you are trying to attain. Sure, it will be hard work whether you are trying to lose weight or read the entire Bible for the first time this year, but by setting up an attainable pattern now puts you ahead of the game. Another important component that most of us leave out is having someone to help us reach these goals. This could be a spouse, a friend, or a life coach. The point, have someone in your life that can give you encouragement and accountability to actually attain those goals within your lifestyle change.