Monday, November 10, 2014

The "Idolatry" of Missions?

Is the "Idolatry of Missions" really a big problem in our churches today? Do people look up to missionaries and missionary work too much?  Some think so. I think not. In fact, I would guess almost the exact opposite is closer to the truth! There is a severe lack of interest and passion for the nations for whom Christ died! This may be the biggest problem in the church today - A lack of passion for Christ and for His Name to worshiped in all the world.

I'd be curious to hear what you think of this article by Jonathan Trotter, a missionary in Cambodia. He argues that there is "missionary idolatry" rampant in the church and among missionaries today. I have posted my comments already in the comments section. I'd love to have you join me in this discussion, either here or there. One thing I really agreed with: I really hope I never come off as a "super-Christian". I surely am not. I am a very normal Christian, a sheep, just like every other Christian. Perhaps this is what Jonathan is reacting to. Missionaries and missionary senders should have the same focus: Not missionaries themselves but Christ and His gospel of good news for all the nations!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Key Verses Concerning Total Depravity

There are literally too many verses to consider when considering the doctrine of Total Depravity.

We are faced with an embarrassment of riches, as it were. God obviously wanted to make this doctrine very clear -
Throughout Scripture we are continually confronted with the fact that we must come completely helpless, 
bringing nothing to the table in our own salvation. Regeneration, salvation and justification
are by grace alone, through the gift of faith. Therefore all the glory belongs to God alone.
Romans 3:9-19 
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks,
 are under sin, as it is written:

 “None is righteous, no, not one;
  no one understands;
  no one seeks for God.
 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
  no one does good,
  not even one.”
 “Their throat is an open grave;
  they use their tongues to deceive.”
 “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
  “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
  in their paths are ruin and misery,
 and the way of peace they have not known.”
  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
  Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be
 stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

While there appears in our eyes that non-Christians have much outward goodness, 
In God's eyes there is no spiritual goodness left in man with which he can summon up faith.
Mark 10:18/Luke 18:19 - And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." 
Titus 1:15-16 - 
 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their
 consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient,
unfit for any good work.

We all start out as unbelieving and impure in God's sight. Therefore there is no hidden purity with which faith can
suddenly be summoned up from. We need to be made pure before we have purity of faith in God. We need to be made
into the right kind of tree before we bear the good fruit of faith. 

Paul goes on in Titus:
 For we ourselves (believers) were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures,
 passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving 
kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to
his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through
Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
(Titus 3:3-7)
We cannot come to faith on our own because we are enslaved to our sinfulness, which cannot do what is right.
 John 8:34 - Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin." 
Paul agreed: For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. (Romans 7:18)

We are not born neutral in relation to God. We are born enemies of Him.
Psalm 51:5 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 
Genesis 8:21 - the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, 
for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth."
Apart from effectual calling and subsequent regeneration by God, a person cannot (morally speaking) come to faith, 
because He will not come to faith in his sin.
1 Corinthians 2:14 - The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and 
he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 
1 Corinthians 1:21-24 - For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God
through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we
preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and 
Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Deuteronomy 29:2-4 - And Moses summoned all Israel 
and said to them: "You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes 
in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his 
land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great 
wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.

 Matthew 11:27 - no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father 
except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
John 14:16-17 - And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of
truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.
Romans 9:16 - So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 
I realize that many will say Romans 9 speaks of nations, not individuals. But this exegesis will not hold up.
Obviously God is talking about both here. The plain reading of this verse will not allow us to take a purely corporate/
national election here for the simple fact that over and over in this context, including in this very verse, actual individual
lives and wills are in view, including our own. 
After the fall man did not immediately die physically, even though God had said that "on the day you eat of (the fruit) you
shall surely die." (Gen 2:17) This can only mean that Adam and Eve died spiritually in the fall. This would lead to their 
physical deaths. (Gen. 3:19) As they died spiritually, their spiritual ability to do good and fellowship with God was 
completely lost. Only by regeneration (a new birth) can spiritual life, and thus faith, begin again. And if we are 
alive, we breathe. If we have spiritual life, we breathe the life of faith, and God keeps his own and loses none. 
(John 6:37-39)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Greatest Opportunity

This same message, given by Dr. Charles Stanley over 20 years ago, still sticks with me today. It is a message that changed the way I live my life. Don't get distracted and miss the greatest opportunity you have right now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Views of Kyoto

We are enjoying the cooler days of "summer" here in Japan. Here are some random pics of things we see.

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." - Luke 10:2

These last two are my favorite.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

What does "Unreached" Mean?

Sometimes I hear Americans say, "But America is still unreached." or, "We have lots of people here who need Christ too." While Americans have responsibility to help other Americans, we have an even greater calling to make disciples of ALL nations, not just in America. (Matt. 28:18-19) Why?

When Jesus said, "Go make disciples of all nations" he did not mean only for some of the disciples. All of us are to be engaged in this passion of God's to reach the world for Christ!

"Nations" or "Ethnos" in Greek, means an ethno-linguistic grouping with a common self-identity that is shared by its various members. For strategic purposes it is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread without encountering barriers of linguistic or cultural understanding.

In Matthew & in Revelation it is guaranteed that every ethnos will be reached, or have believers in it on the last day. An "ethnos" or a people group is considered unreached (UPG) when there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to engage this people group effectively with the gospel. Technically speaking, the percentage of evangelical Christians in this people group is less than 2 percent.  Lower than 2 percent would mean (theoretically) that they are in danger of becoming 0 percent again without sustained missionary effort from the outside! Japan is currently less than 1% Christian, and therefore the second largest unreached people group in the world.

So is missions simply caring for the sick or feeding the hungry? Is it simply educating the savage? Obviously, when we look at the Bible the answer is a resounding "No". While missions should include mercy and practical forms of love, Jesus' final words - the Great Commission- was one command and only one.  We are to make disciples of EVERY ethnos, every people group. We must not be distracted from this greatest calling and heartbeat of God expressed throughout the Scriptures. When this mission is completed the end will come, according to Matthew 24:14! And this is the key to ALL good missionary endeavors: Are we making disciples? In these terms Japan is a spiritual wasteland in great need of our prayers and investment.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

"There is MORE of God's Heart for You to Enjoy!"

Watch this powerful message called, "God's Whole Heart"

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to be Rich

God wants you to be truly rich in Him.
I love this message.
(Full Disclosure: My friend Andy Kampman has a passion for all peoples as Jesus does.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Adventure of Missionary Heroism

I'm thoroughly enjoying reading this old book with my family for devotions. I saw you can get the original book for free here for any e-reader. I encourage you to give it a read also. It will move you to pray more and be more engaged in God's plan for all the nations.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Behold Your God: His Love

I had the privilege to share a message at my twin brother's church this summer. I learned a lot (deep into my heart) just in preparing this message. I encourage you to take a listen also.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pray for Japan Video

I took some old and some new videos, did a little editing and came up with this. Hopefully it will allow you to think and pray about Japan more. (Please click on Settings and set to HD mode.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

An Interview about our Mission in Japan

Take a listen to a great new podcast that has been started by a good friend and fellow missionary, Rudy V.

He interviews me here in two parts concerning our work and missions in Japan in general. He asks very good questions that I hope are helpful for you also. Please do pray for us and consider giving to our mission as the Lord leads you.

#1 - Sharing our Faith - 4 Steps to Prepare: 
(Check out part 1 of my interview at the 23:00- 29:09 mark.)

#2 - Strengthening our Conversation about Christianity:
(Part 2 of my interview continues here from about 19:00- 25:00.)

* Part 2 has a fun true story... "When I die I'm going to become a fish." :)

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Trailer for the "Unbroken" Movie

Should Missionaries Ask for Financial Support?