Worth Repeating : Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer

worthrepeatingExtended quote from Stetzer and Rainer’s Transformational Churches.

“Most Bibles have several maps in the back. If you spent a lot of time in church services, you discovered those maps. When maps are included in the Bible, usually one or more of them trace Paul’s missionary journeys. Paul’s work was not just traveling from place to place. Paul traveled from people to people.

So how did Paul decide where to go and do his “mission work”? Paul’s choice to go was not random or accidental. Could he have gone anywhere he wanted to go? People are people, right? God is not willing for any of them to perish, right? There was nothing random about where Paul, the missionary, chose to do his work for God.

Every church is filled with people who are called to ministry (1 Peter 4:10) and sent on mission (John 20:21). Transformational Churches empower and release people to live on mission, with a missionary mentality, where they are right now – at the right time, following God’s activity and obeying His assignment.

Acts 16:6-10 gives us a snapshot of Paul in action, choosing (or actually being sent) to a specific place: “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, bypassing Mysia, they came down to Troas. During the night a vision appeared to Paul: a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, ‘Cross over to Macedonia and help us.’ After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to evangelize them.” Paul’s choices were not random. Paul was a mission-minded man sent by our missionary God. There were three important factors behind where Paul went and ministered:

1. Time: Paul’s choice to go to Macedonia included another choice we seldom consider. It was a choice against going to Phyrygia. The Holy Spirit prevented Paul from going there. Paul had a limited amount of hours, days, months, and years. He needed to invest in the right places. He could not go everywhere at once. The assignment of God’s calling is critical to the Transformational Church leader. Transformational Churches understand that they must seize the time afforded to them in the community God has placed and given to them.

2. God’s Activity: God is already at work ahead of where He has called you. The vision Paul experienced of a receptive man from Macedonia was significant detail. God was at work preparing people for a church plant in Philippi. He was at work in the heart of a wealthy business woman named Lydia. He was preparing a demonized girl to experience freedom from bondage. He was even working in the life of a middle-class security guard (the Philippian jailor) preparing him to receive new life. To say no to Macedonia would have been to miss the incredible work of God for people who were hungry for more.

God lead Paul to say no to the right places. Where you pastor or plant a church matters to God because the people there matter to God. Your first calling is to the people of the place of God’s activity. He calls you to a people first, not to do the thing you do. The missionary mentality perceives how God is working in the people He assigned a church to live among.

3. God’s Assignment: God calls every believer to be on mission and an ambassador for Him. The what is settled. The variables are: Where? When? How? God’s assignment can be difficult and involves risk. Paul’s willingness to respond to the Macedonian call resulted in jail time. Paul never confused the Macedonia assignment with a promise of prosperity and success. He was clearly given an assignment and chose to obey. There was a place and a time where God wanted Paul to go and do something. Why? God assigned Paul to Macedonia because there were specific people in whom God was working and for whom He had a greater plan.

Paul is a great example of passion for God’s work. He spoke about the Philippians in these terms, “It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I deeply miss all of you with the affection of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:7-8). The missionary mentality demands a passion for God’s work because it is among a needy people.

A missionary mindset is focused more on geographic terms versus methodological terms. Evangelism, church planting, preaching, and discipling in Transformational Churches are a given. Adjusting their work to the community becomes natural.”

Worth Repeating : James Montgomery Boice

“…if the death of Christ on the cross is the true meaning of the Incarnation, then there is no gospel without the cross. Christmas by itself is no gospel. The life of Christ is no gospel. Even the resurrection, important as it is in the total scheme of things, is no gospel by itself. For the good news is not just that God became man, nor that God has spoken to reveal a proper way of life for us, or even that death, the great enemy, is conquered. Rather, the good news is that sin has been dealt with (of which the resurrection is a proof); that Jesus has suffered its penalty for us as our representative, so that we might never have to suffer it; and that therefore all who believe in him can look forward to heaven. …Emulation of Christ’s life and teaching is possible only to those who enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus as their substitute. The resurrection is not merely a victory over death (though it is that) but a proof that the atonement was a satisfactory atonement in the sight of the Father; and that death, the result of sin, is abolished on that basis.

Any gospel that talks merely of the Christ-event, meaning the Incarnation without the atonement, is a false gospel. Any gospel that talks about the love of God without pointing out that his love led him to pay the ultimate price for sin in the person of his Son on the cross is a false gospel. The only true gospel is of the ‘one mediator’, who gave himself for us.”

James Montgomery Boice

Worth Repeating : Mike Huckabee

“I hope we never as a nation forget September 11. For as much as it showcased the cowardice and animalistic behavior of the terrorists, it also showcased many wonderful and selfless Americans—firemen, police officers, first responders, volunteers who gave their lives—as to why terrorism can hurt us, but never kill us. September 11 will be remembered therefore as one of America’s worst days—and yet in the rubble of the twin towers and the pentagon and Shanksville, PA, we saw Americans at their best—laying down their lives for others. As we reflect and remember today, let’s not dwell on the monsters who don’t deserve the attention, but the true heroes who do…”

Mike Huckabee

Worth Repeating : D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“God is not a subject for debate, because He is Who He is and What He is. We are told that the unbeliever, of course, does not agree with that; and that is perfectly true; but that makes no difference. We believe it, and it is part of our very case to assert it. Holding the view that we do, believing what we do about our God, we cannot in any circumstances allow Him to become a subject for discussion or of debate or investigation. I base my argument at this point on the word addressed by God Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-6). Moses had suddenly seen this remarkable phenomenon of the burning bush, and was proposing to turn aside and to examine this astonishing phenomenon. But, immediately, he is rebuked by the voice which came to him saying, ‘Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thy standest is holy ground.’ That seems to me to be the governing principle in this while matter. Our attitude is more important than anything that we do in detail, and as we are reminded in the Epistle to the Hebrews, God is always to approached ‘with reverence and with godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire’ (Heb. 12:28 and 29).

To me this is a very vital matter. To discuss the being of God in a casual manner, lounging in an armchair, smoking a pipe or cigarette or a cigar, is to me something that we should never allow, because God, as I say, is not a kind of philosophic X or a concept. We believe in the almighty, the glorious, the living God; and whatever may be true of others we must never put ourselves, or allow ourselves to be put, into a position in which we are debating about God as if He were but a philosophical proposition.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones from Preaching and Preachers, quoted by Jared C. Wilson in The Pastor’s Justification

Worth Repeating : James Dennison

“The scene is one of the most breathtaking in all of Scripture. An itinerant Galilean carpenter stands surrounded by twelve very ordinary men. At the moment, the leaders of nations are plotting to destroy him as a dangerous heretic. He stands in an area which illustrates the conflict and power of religions more than any other place in the world – Caesarea-Philippi, north of Galilee.

At least fourteen temples to Baal lay scattered about the area, reminders of Canaanite paganism. Nearby is a deep cavern where the Greeks said their god, Pan, was born. The entire region is symbolic of Greek mythology. Adjacent stands the great temple of white marble built to the deity of Caesar by Herod the Great, emblematic of Roman emperor worship. And the Jews believed that their sacred Jordan River originated from beneath this very mountain. Behind Jesus stands a gigantic rock formation, with a cave which is deeper than we are able to measure to this day. It was called the “gates of Hades,” and was widely believed to be the doorway to the underworld.

It was and is an intimidating place. I’ve stood at this spot, and I remember it well. But here Jesus uttered words which astounded his followers: ‘On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18). Hades would not attack the church – this small band of men would attack Hades. And neither Hades, the pagan religions, nor the power of the Roman and Jewish rulers would prevail. Jesus’ church would assault the very gates of hell with the gospel – and win. The church was Jesus’ strategy for reaching a lost world.

And this strategy worked, amid some of the greatest ecotones in history. As Jewish and Gentile cultures clashed, the gospel thrived (Acts 10-11). As East met West, the church grew and prospered (Acts 16). When the gospel came to Rome itself, it took root and flowered (Acts 28). As the Roman Empire crumbled and fell, the church mushroomed in power. The strategy worked.

Across the centuries of ecotonic clashes, the church has remained Jesus’ answer to world evangelization. In a millennium of Dark Ages the gospel spread, and the church grew. In the midst of Enlightenment attacks it experienced Great Awakenings. The Industrial Age saw the greatest missionary expansion to point in history.

And our century, with two world wars and the greatest rate of change in human history, has witnessed unprecedented growth in Christian missions. According to church growth expert George Otis Jr, about 70 percent of all progress toward evangelizing the world has taken place since 1900. Seventy percent of that growth has occurred since World War II.

Now, in another ecotonic time, the church is still Jesus’ strategy for world evangelization. Change is nothing new. Only Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He still intends to reach the world through his church.”

James Dennison, from Missiology; An Introduction to the Foundations, History, and Strategies of World Missions. 1998

Worth Repeating : Robert Webber

“The calling of the church in every culture is to be mission.  That is, the work of the church is not to be an agent or servant of the culture.  The churches’ business is not to maintain freedom or to promote wealth or to help a political party or to serve as the moral guide to culture.  The church’s mission is to be the presence of the kingdom. . . .  The church’s mission is to show the world what it looks like when a community of people live under the reign of God

Robert Webber, The Younger Evangelicals, 2002

Worth Repeating : Leonard Sweet

“When Paul exhorted us to put on the ‘mind’ of Christ, the Greek word he used for ‘mind’ had nothing to do with cognitive skill or intellectual brainpower. To have the mind of Christ does not mean possessing the knowledge of Christ or the intellectual comprehension of Christ but the relational knowing of Christ.

Jesus cannot be separated from His teachings. Aristotle said to his disciples, ‘Follow my teachings.’ Socrates likewise said to his disciples, ‘Follow my teachings’. Buddha said to his disciples, ‘Follow my meditations.’ Confucius said to his disciples, ‘Follow my saying.’ And Muhammad said to his disciples, ‘Follow my noble pillars.’

But Jesus says to His disciples, ‘Follow Me.

In all the religions and philosophies of the world, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with its founder. But no so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus Himself. Christ is still alive, and He embodies His teachings. This is what separates Him from every great teacher and moral philosopher in history.

This is not to say that other religious traditions don’t focus on a person. Buddhism can’t be imagined without Buddha. Islam can’t be imagined without Muhammad: ‘Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.’ say the Muslim people. Judaism doesn’t so much focus on a person as on a nation – the Jewish people as a whole, and the religion they follow.

Yet in all these religions, a follower can abide by all the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. Not so with Jesus Christ.”

Leonard Sweet  from his book, Jesus Manifesto; Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ along with Frank Viola

Worth Repeating : Matt Chandler

“First Corinthians 18 says that ‘the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing’. This is a dire warning to those who find the cross too silly of a doctrine or who seek to diminish its place in the Christian faith to make their calling sure. Those who see the message of the cross as foolishness are perishing.

If we don’t understand the bad news, we will never grasp the good news. The bad news is not just that we don’t measure up to the law but that by the works of the law none of us will be justified before God (Gal 2:16). What alternatives to the cross are there? Be a good man? Be a good woman? Be a good Boy Scout or Girl Scout for Jesus? This is what it boils down to for many in the church: replacing the centrality if the cross with something more appealing, something we think is weighty. In fact, all across the evangelical landscape, people want to get away from the shame and the blood and the guts and the horrific slaughter of Jesus Christ and focus on something else with the cross out on the margins.

But the reason we do this isn’t so much to rectify an imbalance but to idolatrously elevate ourselves. It’s like the charismatics who want to make the day of Pentecost central to the Christian faith. Or the Calvinists who want to make TULIP central. Liberals want to make social justice the center. Fundamentalists want to make moral behavior the center. (Their motto is ‘Do, do, do,’ but the cross screams ‘Done!’) All of those things are good things, biblical things. But to make any of them the center of the Christian faith, the grounds of our hope, is to disregard the only power of salvation – the message of the cross. We end up like Indiana Jones trying to replace the treasure with a bag of sand. We think it will work, but the whole structure comes crashing down around us. Nothing runs to the center of God’s kindness and severity, demonstrating his justice, his love, and his glory all at once, besides his incarnate Son’s sacrifice on the scandalous cross.”

Matt Chandler, from his book The Explicit Gospel

Some Needed Structure

I enjoy writing. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others. Sharing what God is doing in my life as a pastor, husband, father, and student is the reason why I started The Road Less Traveled. Personally, I need structure. I need a schedule. I need something to keep me on track and focused. I guess that you could say that I need routine in my life. I don’t function well in its absence. Ask my wife. I order to be more disciplined in the craft that I love; writing, I am putting a sense of structure in place here. I hope to follow this “schedule”.

Monday. I will begin a new blog series entitled Missional Mondays. Each week I will share a story, church missions project, an article, a resource, or highlight some missions organization that is making a kingdom difference.

Tuesday. I am dedicating Tuesdays to book reviews. I enjoy reading immensely. I review books for several publishing companies (Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, Waterbrook Press, and Bethany House to name a few). To keep a sense of order and expectation, I’ll post my reviews on Tuesday unless the review calls for a certain date.

Wednesday. Throughout the course of my reading, both recreational and in sermon preparation, I come across words that are “worth repeating”. Wednesdays will be dedicated to this discovery.

Thursday. Random thoughts. Maybe.

Friday. I enjoy giving away books that I have been given to me. As I have the opportunity, I will continue Free Book Fridays. I will also continue my devotional thoughts as a part of Friday is for Scripture.

Saturday and Sunday. Random thoughts. Maybe.

It is my prayer that you will be encouraged, blessed, challenged, enlightened, or inspired by something you read here at The Road Less Traveled. Thanks for stopping by.

Worth Repeating

“There are very few that ever gave this book of God, the grand character of salvation, one fair reading through: though we profess to have assented to the truth of scripture, as our Lord said, ‘In them we think we have eternal life,’ yet most read them as they would a proclamation, a romance, a play, or novels, that help only to bring them to the devil, but choose not to read God’s book, which is to be our guide to glory; ‘they are they (says Christ) which testify of me: ‘Lord God, convert and change our hearts.’” However, this was spoken in reference to the Old Testament, and certainly shews us, that Christ is the treasure hid in that field, yet, as there are equal proofs of the divinity of the New Testament, the word Holy Scriptures include both, especially as Christ is the antitype of all types, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, of all divine revelation.”

George Whitefield, 1714-1770