Here is a great sermon by Charles Spurgeon about the missionary calling and lifestyle. Here is a manuscript of this sermon. It is a much needed correction to the short-lived, anti-self-denial mood of 21st century missions:
On February 15, 2017, Dr. Marv Newell, Senior VP of Missio Nexus, aired an interview of Dr. Evan Burns, highlighting the new book: A Supreme Desire to Please Him: The Spirituality of Adoniram Judson. The mission of Missio Nexus is to advance the effectiveness of the Great Commission community in North America in global mission. Here is the audio interview:
This video by John Piper is a brief exposition of Isaiah 48:9-11 that unpacks the biblical weight given to God’s name and honor. Here is one of the most important texts in the Bible highlighting an honor/shame paradigm:
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a master at taking a familiar biblical text and staring at it long and hard until he saw mountains of spiritual treasure emerge. He read the Bible as a beggar in search for bread, and he never stopped looking even in places he had searched before. Here is a simple example of his active meditation on a familiar text—“The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt 6:9). Let us seek and find the riches of God’s Word, even in familiar places.
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, etc.” Matthew 6:9.
This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise, and go unto my Father.”
This child-like spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven,” and ascends to devout adoration, “Hallowed be thy name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father,” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure outgrowth of filial love and reverent adoration—“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God—“Give us this day our daily bread.”
Being further illuminated by the Spirit, he discovers that he is not only dependent, but sinful, hence he entreats for mercy, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors:” and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly supplicates for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.” The man who is really forgiven, is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts,” that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.
As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.” We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of his dominion there shall be no end.
Thus from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us thus to pray.
Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, “October 29”.
In this third post, my main goals are to help nurture the spiritual gifts of the individuals in our church family here in Chiang Mai and to encourage the use of the spiritual gifts whether in private or corporate worship for the growth of the Body. First, I will describe the setting of the local church to explain why there is a need for the development of the spiritual gifts. Then I will propose the objectives and the plans to meet these two main goals. For this paper, I am reflecting particularly on lecture 8 and 9 (Decisive Context for Spiritual Formation), including the individual disciplines from lecture 17, and from one of the textbooks. I would like to emphasize the importance of the individuals in the church and how important it is that everyone in the local church needs him/her. God has given each person a spiritual gift which the individual is to use and to develop in the context of corporate worship. It does not mean that they have to wait until they have formal theological training. Rather, the spiritual gifts are developed in the church as the indwelling Holy Spirit molds each person’s heart.
Church setting: Our church family here includes Karen-Thai Christian families and four Lahu students who are doing their internship. It is a small congregation of about 15 active believers in regular attendance but it would be at about 50 if every church member comes. Thai is used in all the services: Friday Bible study, Sunday worship and Sunday school for the children. Presently, there are two pastors: me and another individual. Both of us share multiple roles. The pastor trains the Lahu students on everything related to the order of worship. This includes leading songs, praying, and Scripture readings in Thai. Because Thai is not their first language, the Lahu students have the opportunity to develop their Thai language skills in an environment where Thai is not the mother tongue of the church members. This setting makes it less intimidating for the students as they can develop their Thai language skill for ministry or for further study.
There is not one professional in the church; all are making it from day to day by means of God’s grace to put food on the table. They are poor and only a few have completed the high school education. Because most of them do not have a proper education, they lack self-confidence. This is clearly demonstrated when I ask them questions from the Bible; they do not have good critical thinking skills. Therefore, I have to be very careful when I lead Bible study. I do not get the response I expect; they are still at concrete level than at the abstract level. In addition, because all of them are working for daily bread, they are burdened with providing for their physical needs that they rarely read the Bible. They have expressed great appreciation to us for helping them understand the Bible at cell group meetings when we can take time to carefully examine the Scriptures together and answer their questions.
Objectives and plan of actions: There are specific spiritual disciplines that we are corporately exercising. They include Scriptural reading which we do together as a congregation, corporate sharing of testimonies, children reciting Scriptures during worship time, and special prayers for the children. I would like to help sharpen the gifts of the individuals during our Friday meetings for the building up and edification of the Body.
Firstly, I would like to provide more opportunities for the people in the church to pray during our prayer time which follows our Friday Bible study. One very faithful and active church member has confessed that she wants people to pray for her but she herself does not pray. This would be the perfect opportunity for her to pray for someone in the midst after we take up prayer requests. Also, this would be good for the four Lahu students to pray. As they hear us pray out loud, they learn how to pray. They then can give a try at praying in Thai. Another is praying in a circle for someone next to us. Although this praying style is commonly practiced in the Western churches, I believe that praying for someone on the right or on the left would be appropriate for developing the spiritual discipline of prayer. In addition, I would like to add weekly prayer partners. This means I will draw from a box which has names that are written on individual sheets of paper. I will pair them up accordingly to the pair of names I draw.
Secondly, I would like to see the individuals in the church to be active encouragers. To do this I am going to borrow an idea that my youth minister used when I was in the States. He had a note card and a pen placed on each chair when the youth arrived. As we waited for others to arrive and before the opening prayer, we took the time to write something encouraging to someone in the room. Then we place the card in the “mailbox” which has the recipient’s name. The recipient picks up the card after Bible study. For our church family in Thailand, it will be best if we do this just after the praise time and just before the actual Bible study. This will be good for me too because I have become lazy writing in Thai. The encouragement cards will be good, I think, in creating a strong bond between the individuals.
Thirdly, I would like to be a better equipper. Recently I started an ESL class after our meal time on Sundays teaching the Lahu students and three other young individuals in the church. All of them are studying English. My plan for developing the Sunday school to an ESL Sunday school is for two reasons. One, the teaching materials available in English are by far much better prepared than what is available in Thai. Secondly, I am killing two birds with one stone so to speak as the parents in the church want their children to learn English. Though the 4 interns will be here for just one year, they can take and use the new skills for the nursery their school is developing. There is one other young adult whom I hope will be of service to the church when she completes her bachelor’s degree in English three years from now and live and work in Chiang Mai. She would be able to teach the children in English during Sunday school. I am thinking about teaching her the piano too so that she can be of service to the church.