Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Speaking in Iowa

I have enjoyed casting the vision for missions at several churches this summer. I pray that it causes many to groan less for their own little pains and more for the pains of the world Christ came to save. I pray that we would live less for our own little kingdom, and more for the great kingdom of God. This world ends, but God's kingdom never will. May we live with an eternal perspective in all we do.
Going back to Japan will be tough. It is never easy to leave your own country and your own dear family and friends. However, when I look at the big picture and the big kingdom, there is not a more exciting work and a more important place that I could be than in Japan. I am thankful that I can be one part of God's great team that is extending His kingdom in this world. This team will one day win the only gold medal that will never tarnish. Alleluia!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Men's Bootcamp


Every man wants to be regarded as a "real man". We want to feel as if others look on us with respect and admiration. What does it take to be a real man in God's eyes?

Watch this series of messages from Japan's fastest growing church to learn more. How badly is this message needed in Japan and in America today!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dying Protestantism

This was a powerful article on why mainline Protestant churches are dying.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Heartbeat of God
UPDATE: Listen to this message here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
(This is the message I will give tomorrow at my parent's church in Iowa.)

First and last words are important.

What was the first instruction that God gave to mankind?

Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...” and v. 28 says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth...”

So from the very beginning God had a very clear reason for making people. They were to be missionaries - emissaries of His blessing and goodness.

His purpose was to make little reflectors of His goodness and glory. First he would bless them in His goodness and glory, and then they would multiply and fill the earth - to bless the rest of the earth with His goodness and glory.

God’s plan was never for His people to stay in one place and simply revel in their own blessing and glory.

He planned and still plans for us to go public with his amazing glory and goodness in all the nations.

Of course we know that the people didn’t go along with this, they sinned and soon the whole world was corrupt.

Genesis 6:5 says, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

This is very sad, but as we will see God is sovereign and his plans do not fail.

God started over with the same promise to Noah after the worldwide flood.

Genesis 9:1 says, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

Do you see any pattern here? It is not hard to see what is on God’s heart. This isn’t just Mark’s missionary deal.

Then at the tower of Babel the people purposefully decide to stay in one place and build a tower for their OWN glory! This is the exact opposite of God’s initial plan.

Of course through men’s sin, God highlights His own mercy and sovereignty as He scatters the peoples and their languages, making great diversity which one day would become a beautiful tapestry of diversity in God’s kingdom.

Finally God chooses one man, named Abraham to bless, so that he and his seed after him would bless the whole world.

God said, “Go (Abraham) from your country (LEAVE)... to the land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, SO THAT you will be a blessing... in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)

Notice the words, “so that”. God blesses us for a very specific reason: So that we get to enjoy being a blessing to others also.

Has God blessed you today financially, or spiritually? You are also blessed to enjoy being a blessing to all the nations.

This great promise God made to Abraham, was promised again to Isaac and Jacob and David - that through their seed/ offspring, blessing would come to all the families of the earth.

In reading Galatians we see that Jesus is the seed who would fill all nations with his salvation and glory.

And as Christians this blessing has become ours.

Remember last words are important?

What were Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he ascended into heaven?

“All authority has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 28:18-19)

This is the heartbeat of God you can see over and over throughout the Bible. God has a plan that CANNOT fail and it is guaranteed with promises.

For example, Psalm 86:8-9, “All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O LORD, and shall glorify your name.”

And Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

In Revelation we are allowed to see the fulfillment of God’s grand purposes, even before it happens,
“And they sang a new song, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9)

Jesus will fulfill all the promises of God and God’s plan will not fail.

I want to be a part of that invincible plan of God, don’t you?

Seeing this great plan in the Bible for myself was one of the key things God used in my life to get me to Japan as a missionary 9 years ago.

No one wants to join a company that they know will ultimately go bankrupt. No one joins a team knowing that they will never win.

We want to be part of a championship team and we never want it to end. This is the team and the work that God wants you to join.

You cannot waste time or money or energy investing in this work.

The promise is definite and as we read these verses from Revelation, some people FROM all ethnic and languages and people groups will become Christians before the end.

Will you be a part of God’s great unstoppable plan for the world?

Now I am not saying that everyone here should be a missionary in another country.

What I am saying is that not participating in some way in God’s heartbeat is disobedience and a surrender of your greatest joy on earth.

We need senders – people to pray and give and mobilize, just as much and more than we need people who go.

Actually, to make it possible, we will need more people to stay than to go.

We need people who are passionate about going and people passionate about giving.

We need people like my friend Curt who makes lots of money so that he can give lots of money to the global cause of Christ.

He realizes that all that he has is a gift, not simply for temporary selfish pleasure, but for him to enjoy blessing others eternally.

There is a battle going on right now. It is a battle over what you will do with this message. It is a battle for eternal souls in all the nations, over real people who have never heard the good news of salvation in Christ.

This battle is a war and it is bigger than any war going on now. It is bigger than World War 2 or any possible World War 3, because the people who die in this war don’t just lose an arm or a leg or an earthly life, they lose their soul in hell forever.

John Piper, a man who has inspired me a great deal into missions writes:

“The crying need of the hour – every hour – is to put the churches on a wartime footing. Mission leaders are crying out, “Where is the church? Where is the mighty army, moving ahead with God’s glorious plan for all the nations?”
The answer is that it has been swallowed up with a peacetime mentality. Thousands of Christians do not hear the diabolical bombs dropping and the bullets zinging overhead. They don’t cringe or weep over the thousands who perish every week apart from the gospel. In fact, it is not dark, they say. It is bright and comfortable and cheery – just look at my home and car and office and cabin and boat. And listen to my stereo and look at my new video equipment. The need of the hour is a global wartime mentality.”

The weapons of our warfare are not guns and bombs, but they are prayer and the loving ministry of God’s Word, which has the power to save and bring life.

So how do you look at Japan, for example?

Do you simply see a peaceful and prosperous nation? Or do you see it as a place in great need of salvation?

Let’s look at this map. The red shows the places where 97% of the people who have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ live. Sadly only 25% of all foreign missionaries go to these areas.

How does God look at the world? He sees in general a very blessed and wealthy America, and a very needy Asia and Africa.

He has given us great spiritual and financial blessings in order that we would be a blessing to these nations.

He has allowed many nations to have poverty, sickness and hunger, and even a need for English (like in Japan), so that Christians might meet these needs and have an inroad to share their greater need of salvation from hell.

Let us not divorce missions from the good news, ever. Let us not turn missions merely into a humanitarian effort.

On the other hand, let us not be people who simply come with words and not with practical blessing.

God has blessed you materially and spiritually, to be an eternal blessing to the world.

Do not be like the people at Babel: rich, fat and lazy; eager only to make a name for themselves and their own successes.

I encourage you to use your resources of time, money and energy to make a name for God among all the nations.

Make His glory and the news of His great salvation the main passion of your life. This is only plan that will ultimately not fail.

Now some of you are being called to become missionaries today. It takes no guesswork in a congregation of this size. Don’t let that calling go by without talking to someone about it today.

At first I did not want to go to Japan. I love my family and my friends and I love Iowa! But God showed me that the greatest blessing was not in these things, but in the blessing that He has for me as I follow Him and His plan.

There is not a more wonderful and exciting, or safe place you can be than in God’s great plan for your life.

For the majority of you who are not called to become overseas missionaries, I want to give a final word of application and encouragement.

I want to encourage you to be a champion whose dream does not fail.

In your giving and in your heart of prayer for the nations, leave a legacy to your kids that will last as you enter eternity. Don’t simply leave a legacy of worldly successes.

Use your youth, use your retirement, use your strong years to further God’s great work.

Lastly, please check out the great ministries here today. We would love to have you partner with us in reaching Japan for Christ. Missionaries cannot do it without your love, encouragement, prayers and contributions.

Take our prayer card and sign up for our monthly e-mail updates.

You will never regret joining in God’s grand purposes for the nations.

Let’s pray. – Dear God, the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. We pray that you would send workers into your harvest field. Not just missionaries, but senders and prayer warriors. Ultimately, you do the work God, in us and through us. We can do nothing apart from you.
Thank you that we can be involved with a plan and a dream that cannot fail.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Confessions of St. Augustine - Free

When a book sticks around for 1600 years, you know it is an important book! As for me, I have been greatly benefitted by Augustine's thought and amazing God-centeredness over the years. Here is one quote that has made me think a lot: "He loves Thee to little, O God, who loves Thee together with anything else, which he loves not for Thy sake."

In my love for family and friends in America, and America itself, I must not forget to love them all IN God and for His sake. If I love them together with God, for their own sake, (independent of God) I get very tempted to stay in America and forget to pursue the great blessings God has for me and for the people of Japan. Not only do I end up loving God less, but I love my friends, family and country less. That being said, there is a lot of pain in following God's best and most wonderful path.

To download the free audio book go here, look for the free download section, and put in the code AUG2008