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Joy to the World!

December 19, 2011 — Leave a comment

Christmas is such a special time of year to me for so many reasons. I enjoy all the sights and sounds, the friends and family, and, of course, the food. However, there’s something I like even more than all that. Each year at Christmas, my church, along with thousands of other Southern Baptist churches, shines a light on international missions.

I have missionary friends in literally every part of the world. These are people who sacrifice much for the sake of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with people who need to know Him as Lord and Savior. Today I’d like you to take a moment right where you are to pray for our international missionaries. Pray for their safety, their obedience, and their families. Most of all, pray that God would use them in incredible ways to impact the Kingdom.

From the comfort of our own homes, it can be difficult to really relate to what many international missionaries endure for the sake of the call. I’ve had the privilege already this month of meeting several new missionary families in person. Their call is evident. Their passion is contagious. Their commitment is clear. Whether here in the United States or around the world, the commission of Christ-followers is to go and share the love and message of Christ at every opportunity. I am immensely grateful for these missionaries who leave their families to go and serve in places where most of us probably wouldn’t desire to go.

If I’ve learned anything at all from my missionary friends, it’s that the love of Christ knows no boundaries and no limits. I invite you to take six minutes of your time right now to watch this beautiful video, put to the world edition of Chris Tomlin’s “How Great is Our God.” I think you’ll be blessed as your heart is drawn to the unreached people all over the world.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
– John 3:16-17 (ESV)

That’s the essence of Christmas. God loves us so much that He gave the perfect gift by sending Jesus to be our Redeemer. “Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!”

Is there any particular people group or region of the world that your heart is drawn to pray for?

God Is In Control

April 28, 2011 — 1 Comment

Every now and then we are reminded that He is God, and we are not. Lately those reminders seem to come stacked, layered, and more closely together than used to be the case. Or maybe I’m just at a point of discovering the depths of this reality for myself.

Indeed the first one-third of this year has been full of trials for many all over the world. From the political uprisings in the Middle East, to the earthquakes and tsunamis in various places, to the violent and deadly storms just this week, the news reads like a dramatic screenplay of Matthew 24.

In times like these I often ask the question, “How do people who have no faith in God make sense of the trials of this life?” I don’t necessarily know the answer to that question, but I do know that He has placed believers in this world to be the hands and feet of Christ to a world that very much needs to know He is real.

It’s easy in a world populated by some six billion people to have a diminished sense of responsibility. How often have you thought — or even said — to yourself, “Someone else will do it?” Friends, what if we are that someone? Now is not the time to roll over and say, “Woe is me.” Now is the time to stand up to the challenges at hand, with full confidence and faith in Christ that He will work through us to help usher in His Kingdom on earth.

In his book Missional Small Groups, author M. Scott Boren writes:

I find it interesting that Jesus told His disciples, “You are salt, . . . light . . . a city on a hill.” He did not say, “You should be . . . ,” “You would be if . . . ,” or “You could be if . . . .” He declared who they were and equipped them to live in a way that fit this declaration.

Jesus never promised His followers that this life would be easy; quite the contrary. His words in John 16:33 are clear: “In the world you will have tribulation.” Thankfully He doesn’t stop there. “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” He will walk with us through the storms of life, and that brings me great comfort.

I also love this reminder from Psalm 46:1-3:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (ESV)

No matter what happens in this world, we can be assured that God is still fully in control.

Whatever trial or trouble you may be facing today, know that if you belong to Christ, then you need not worry about the things of this life because we have the promise of ultimate victory in Him. Just know that the trials we face often provide us with a context in which to connect others to the redemptive message of the Gospel. Let’s be diligent to not squander such opportunities.

I’m mindful today of the words of this familiar chorus:

People need the Lord. People need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.
People need the Lord. People need the Lord.
When will we realize that we must give our lives,
For people need the Lord.

(Phillip J. McHugh & Greg Nelson, 1983)