Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Operation World

Recently (this or last month) the latest version of Operation World has been published.
Operation World has been a great tool for praying for the nations, and encouraging a missionary heart.

On each Nation it contains, containing history, political info, analysis of religions, and denominations, people groups, answered prayers and prayer points and more.

With the events of 9-11 shortly after the last major revision, it isn't hard to see why this latest addition is needed more than every to keep up with the developments in the World.

Please join me in praying for the nations, that they may see his glory.
" ... And they shall declare my glory among the nation" Isaiah 66:19
 "I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations." Psalm 108:3 
"Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth." Isaiah 12:5

The Pilgrim's Progress

I have been reading an abridged simplified version of the Pilgrim's Progress to the kids.
It reminded me of this quote from it, which my Grandparents also have in a picture frame in there house:
"and all their talk at the table was about the Lord of the hill; as, namely, about what he had done, and wherefore he did what he did, and why he had builded that house; and by what they said, I perceived that he had been a great warrior, and had fought with and slain him that had the power of death, but not without great danger to himself, which made me love him the more" (
I hope you all know the longing to which Bunyan alludes.

Also found a useful article entitled: Why Evangelicals Don't Read Pilgrim's Progress (And Why They Should)
In Hebrews 11, the author conducts his great survey of pilgrims. He describes these Old Testament saints as strangers and pilgrims on earth, with no abiding city, relying on faith in the promises of God, knowing that their inheritance was something better than this present world.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection (Part 1)

I recently started reading this new book by Don Carson "Scandalous". Having owned and read many Carson books I didn't expect to be disappoint. Well so far it looks very good, and that's from the 1st Chapter, when I was looking forward to the 2nd and 3rd.

The first Chapter on Matthew 27:27-51a which is titled "the ironies of the cross" picks on four ironies, or even double ironies, from the Crucifixion of Jesus. Carson here offers four points of irony, where Jesus is mocked by various people before and during his crucifixion.
  1. The man who is mocked as king - is king.
  2. The man who is utterly powerless - is powerful.
  3. The man who can't save himself - saves others.
  4. The man who cries out in despair - trusts God.
In exactly what he is mocked, he is actually in truth doing what they say - yet they don't realise it. They mean the opposite, but unwittingly tell us the truth.
Take for example the soldiers who mocked Jesus as King and put a crown of thorns on this head. They didn't realise that in his death he was actually showing he is the King.
Also the case of "He saved others, but can't save himself. ... Let him come down now from the cross"  - yet it is by not saving himself that he saves others.

I remember preparing some thoughts for a Bible Study on the similar passage in Mark's Gospel, but I hadn't quick come to terms with what it was teaching, and how it was - think partly working out how to understand the point of some Narratives besides just their description of what happened.
Carson does well with this passage in making it clear.

On 10 in 2 - thoughts about some Christian goal setting

Just read this article in my latest copy of the briefing. (It seems most parts of the "Up Front" section of the Briefing have appeared previously on the blog
In the "10 In 2" article, Ben Pfahlert talks about his goal of trying to reach 10 people in 2 years with the gospel.
I have previously read of similar goals taken on by "trainees" - but that was talking about China! (see Brother Yun "The Heavenly Man"). I think they had a much high target, but they were going on a full time mission so that might be expected.

I think this general idea is good. Whether others make this commitment or a similar one is good.

Of course, a necessary factor is our dependence on God. God gives the results. It is God who draws people to himself. But on the other hand, not to plan, not to dream for God's Kingdom probably means that we are complacent or love this life too much, and possible have the wrong sort of dreams.

But is making plans like this risky? Should we aim at things we can't control?
Two points:
(1) John Piper, arguing against the idea that God is a risk taker, says that we can be risk takers because God isn't. God is in control, he has our future in his hands, so what do we have to loose? We can only gain. If we loose friends and money in the process, then we haven't lost anything in eternal terms (c.f. 1 Cor 15). On the other hand we will be gaining "friends for life" - eternal life that is.
(2) Even though we can't control the out come, we have been given this mission anyway (Matt 28:18-20). But we need to say more. Some one has said "Failing to plan is planning to fail". Making goals and plans and praying about them helps us to focus, and be diligent. Yes, God can use us in unexpected ways, and despite our efforts, and using it all to teach us hard lessons. We might find there are hard lessons we need to learn before we can really go on with our plans. But these are not points against it. Paul made plans and was deliberate about using his time and energy for the gospel.

I have been forming plans in the back of my head, especially after using the "Christianity Explained" course. Maybe I should commit instead of letting them just float around.