Back from UPN

Naomi and I had a great time meeting with ministry colleagues (old friends and new friends) at the United Pastors Network in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I would just say to anyone reading who is in vocational ministry, this is always a great conference and I would encourage you to attend next year. More information: www.unitedpastorsnetwork.com.

I was privileged to co-chair a workshop on “The Missions-Minded Church” with Pastor Robert Barriger, founder of Camino de Vida in Lima, Peru. During this session I mentioned that we have a timeless commission – preach the gospel to every person (Mark 16:15) and make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:19).

There are, however, some important new missions realities:

  1. A thrilling development is that the entire church worldwide is now taking ownership of the Great Commission. Some of the most exciting, innovative missions initiatives are now coming from beyond the Western world. The old paradigm was sending nations and receiving nations. The new paradigm is “from everywhere to everywhere.”
  2. The proclaiming of the gospel and planting of churches is increasingly in a hostile environment. Almost one in every three Christians worldwide is suffering some level of persecution for his or her faith in Jesus Christ.
  3. This resistance has not stopped the growth of the church, at least in most places. There is great receptivity to the gospel as the church continues to break into more and more previously unreached peoples.

All our missions endeavors flow from a longing to see Jesus personally known, devotedly loved, radically obeyed, and lavishly worshiped by redeemed people from every tribe, language, and nation. “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts” (Isaiah 26:8).

David is the founder of Global Advance. Learn more at globaladvance.org.

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Look and Live

Sadly, instead of gazing on Jesus, people today are messing with Him.  Many try to leverage Him for their agendas, soften His demands, strip Him of His deity, or make Him cool for contemporary culture.  He is caricatured as everything from a heartless demagogue to a mystical pundit to a social radical.  Jesus has been labeled everything from a flag-waving capitalist to a flag-burning anarchist.  These contortions of the peerless God-Man range from humorous to nauseating.

Jesus doesn’t need a makeover. We don’t need to rebrand Him, we just need to unveil Him.  For once He is seen for who He is, His power and glory forever impact us.  Some are captivated by His love.  Others are repelled by His claims.  But once you really see Him you can never just walk away.  Everyone who sees Him must deal with Him.  He is too colossal to ignore.

When anyone truly encounters Jesus, there will indeed be some kind of response. Jesus’ enemies were thrown to the ground by the sheer authority in His voice (Jn. 18:6). When Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of religious leaders they “sought to kill Him” (Jn. 5:16). A pagan Roman officer watched Him die and immediately changed his whole belief system (Mk. 15:39). Saul of Tarsus is thrown to the ground and blinded by His light (Ac. 22:7-11). John, Jesus’ friend, saw Him in His splendor and “fell at His feet as dead” (Re. 1:17). But Jesus then called John to come nearer to Him and, unafraid, get a closer look at His majesty (Re. 1:17-18). This is the authority, glory, and eminence of the God-Man.

And so He calls you today. Look in wonder. Draw close in love. Look – and live.

“If you from sin are longing to be free,

Look to the Lamb of God;

He, to redeem you, died on Calvary,

Look to the Lamb of God.”

– H. G. Jackson

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Above All

The motto of my college alma mater, John Brown University, is Christ Over All. What a fitting motto for a Christian university, for Jesus reigns supreme over all knowledge and all subjects in all the universe.

As the eternal God, Jesus displayed and displays authority – over everything. Depending on your understanding of who Jesus truly is, this pronouncement He made is either the most audacious or most compelling decree in history: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). He exercises authority over nature (Mk. 4:39; Jn. 2:7-11); disease (Mk. 3:10); demons (Lu. 4:35); and death itself (Jn. 11:43-44). Death could not hold Him. He has destroyed its power (He. 2:14-15).

Jesus Christ is so fully in charge that the decree from God the Father is that the final judgment of the world will be consigned to God the Son (Jn. 5:26-27; Ac. 17:30-31). As God, Jesus is the pre-existent One (Jn. 8:57-58).  He is both creator and sustainer of everything (Jn. 1:3, Col. 1:17). Among His attributes as God He is omniscient (Mk. 2:8; Jn. 2:25) and omnipotent (He. 1:3). He is the very icon of God almighty (Jn. 1:1; Col. 1:15).

The eternal God took on human flesh in Jesus Christ. “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9). He was worshiped by His disciples and He accepted their worship. Peter’s confession of faith was, “You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Jn. 6:68-69). When Thomas encountered the resurrected Christ he exclaimed, “My lord and my God!” (Jn. 20:28).

Yet God incarnate voluntarily emptied Himself of certain prerogatives of deity. In his famous kenosis (emptying) passage, Paul tells us that “Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:5-11, HCSB).

“Above all powers, above all kings

Above all nature and all created things

Above all wisdom and all the ways of man

You were there before the world began

 

“Above all kingdoms, above all thrones

Above all wonders the world has ever known

Above all wealth and treasures of the earth

There’s no way to measure what You’re worth

 

“Crucified, laid behind the stone

You lived to die, rejected and alone

Like a rose trampled on the ground

You took the fall, and thought of me

Above all”

– Paul Baloche and Lenny LeBlanc

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Grateful for Co-Workers in HIS Harvest

Naomi and I are traveling today to the United Pastors Network conference held at Church of the Redeemer in Gathersburg, Maryland (close to Washington, D.C.). Pastor Dale O’Shields leads this dynamic church, one of the strongest churches in the eastern part of our nation. Also, it is very influential since a good number of personnel from government offices and embassies also attend this great church.

How thankful we are that Dale and his wife, Terry, followed God’s call in founding this great church years ago, just about the same time we launched Global Advance. Pastor O’Shields has served on the Global Advance Board of Directors for a good number of years. We’re so grateful for his godly, pastoral counsel. We’re looking forward to great days of fellowship with friends, old and new, who are co-workers in HIS harvest.

Tomorrow I will co-lead a workshop, “How Your Local Church Can Have a Global Impact.” I would be grateful for your prayers.

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MAYDAY PRAYER ALERT

Along with others, Anne Graham Lotz is issuing what is being called a MAYDAY Prayer Initiative, May 15 – 23. Traditionally the nine days between the Ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost have been devoted to prayer and fasting for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This year, those days are May 15 – 23.

The call during this time is to fast (in the way God directs you) and pray an hour each day. I’m encouraging every Christian reader of this post to join me in participating in this vital prayer initiative. Decisions are being made right now that will dramatically affect our nation’s future – and your future. As never before it is time NOW to cry out to the Lord.

May we not be spiritually AWOL in this spiritual battle for the hearts of people and the heart of our nation.  Please pause right now, schedule an hour today (and for the next nine days) and PRAY for God’s mercy and intervention. Thank you.

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Heavenly Minded = Earthly Good

“Some will protest, ‘You can be so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.’ This refers to the notion that Christians might expend such energy concentrating on heaven that they fail in their responsibilities here on Earth. Frankly, I’ve never met anyone like that. In fact, I think just the opposite happens. Heavenly minded people seldom retreat to ivory towers. Rather, it is usually the heavenly minded who are most ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on the problems of Earth.

“Look, for instance, at Mother Teresa and Mark Buntain – two ‘heavenly minded’ sojourners who gave their lives for the diseased and impoverished of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Remember the ‘heavenly minded’ Wilberforce whose passion for human dignity forced eradication of slavery throughout the British Empire. Go to the sleazy underworld of Hollywood and watch the tireless workers at the Dream Center as they tell inquiring street people how to get to heaven while providing them food and shelter on the way. Scan the world and see Christian compassion that has spawned thousands of hospitals, shelters, clinics, children’s homes, schools, and colleges – all built in heaven’s honor. The point is obvious. Those who truly set their sights on another world are usually the most active for constructive change in this one.

“C. S. Lewis said, ‘The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.’”

– From Living as if Heaven Matters by David Shibley

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SMALL BOOK, BIG TITLE, HUGE IMPACT.

Like a giant clap of thunder in the middle of the night, God used a small book by a small church Baptist pastor who was just 30 years old to awaken a complacent church from its slumber. On this date in 1792 young William Carey published a book that demanded attention – and ensured controversy.

It may go down in Christian publishing as the book with the longest title: An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians, to use means for the conversion of the Heathens in which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings, are Considered. More simply put in today’s missions vernacular, it was an appeal for “the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.”

The length of the title was out of proportion to its modest size of 87 pages. But the book packed a huge wallop, calling the church to send gospel-carriers to the ends of the earth. In the book this young visionary issued the challenge: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

Carey would live up to his own challenge and do almost unbelievable exploits for Christ and His kingdom. I’ve chronicled some of these in earlier posts and in my book, Great for God. Little did this young preacher realize that on this day, just 223 years ago, he was laying the groundwork for a tidal wave of world missions advance. Today this unlikely forerunner is often referred to as “the father of modern missions.”

His presence forever changed India. His life continues to inspire multitudes. Years later after Carey’s death Robert Hall eulogized him as “a man who unites with the most profound and varied attainments the fervor of an evangelist, the piety of a saint and the simplicity of a child.” God grant us more leaders like William Carey today.

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Honoring Godly Mothers

This past weekend Naomi and I were blessed to be with all five of our grandchildren. I’m so thankful that our family is enriched with a heritage not only of godly fathers, but also godly mothers. Today I want to pay tribute to five truly great mothers.

First, I honor the memory of my mother, Lillian Shibley, and my mother-in-law, Helen Hood. Both of these ladies worked tirelessly for their families. They both loved the Lord and served Him joyfully all the days of their lives. Shortly before my mother’s death a year and a half ago, she was hospitalized for several days. I explained to my mother that the cardiologist would take several pictures of her heart. She replied, “I hope every picture shows that I love Jesus with all my heart.” Her three children were the beneficiaries of her devoted love – to the Lord, to her husband, and to each of us.

Second, I am so thankful for the two beautiful “daughters-in-grace” the Lord has added to our family. Sarah (Jonathan’s wife) and Fawn (Joel’s wife) are both marvelous moms. They beautify everything around them and they’ve both created such a secure, loving environment for the raising of our grandchildren. We’re forever grateful to the Lord for each of them.

Most of all, I want to honor the most beautiful, most resourceful, most tender, most resilient mother in the entire world – my tremendous wife of 42 years, Naomi. Often during our sons’ formative years I was gone – often overseas. She stepped in and provided all our sons needed for their security and development into men of God. I can’t say enough about her.  She just keeps excelling – beautiful wife, fabulous mother, awesome grandmother, compassionate servant of Jesus Christ.

“Her children stand and bless her. Her husband publicly praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise” (Proverbs 31:28-31, NLT).


David is the founder of Global Advance. Learn more about Global Advance about globaladvance.org

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The National Day of Prayer

“When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble thenselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, the I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).

Please join me and millions of others today: Fast at least one meal, unplug – at least for an hour, and PRAY. “Lord, hear our cry.” www.nationaldayofprayer.org.

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The Power of Corporate Prayer

This Thursday marks the annual National Day of Prayer. This year’s observance seems especially crucial as so much around us seems to be spinning out of control.

Let us never minimize the power of prayer. And let’s always remember that united, corporate prayer is often even more impactful. I encourage you to participate in the events in your area associated with the National Day of Prayer.

My beloved friend, Paul Billheimer, wrote some of the best books on prayer of the last century. He has been home with the Lord for almost 30 years but his words are as fresh as if they were written yesterday:

“The praying people are the body politic of the world, and the church holds the balance of power in world affairs. Not only in future ages is she the ruling and governing force in the social order, but even now, in this present throbbing moment, by means of her prayer power and to the extent to which she uses it, the praying church is actually deciding the course of human events. Some day we shall discover that prayer is the most important factor in shaping the course of human history.” (The Technique of Spiritual Warfare)

Frankly, every time I read that I’m convicted. Suppose Dr. Billheimer is only half right in his assertions. We should be praying much more!

“There is a place where thou canst touch the eyes

Of blinded men to instant perfect sight;

There is a place where thou canst say, ‘Arise!’

To dying captives, bound in chains of night.

There is a place where thou canst reach the store

Of hoarded gold and free in for the Lord;

There is a place upon some distant shore

Where thou canst send the worker and the Word;

There is a place where heaven’s resistant power

Responsive moves to thine insistent plea;

There is a place – a silent trysting hour –

Where God Himself descends and fights for thee.

Where is that secret place? Dost thou ask where?

O soul, it is the secret place of prayer!”

– Quoted by Leonard Ravenhill, Revival Praying

 

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