Milestones and memories are part of life. We need them. They are times of celebration and reflection. They show up as birthday celebrations (though not all cultures celebrate such chronological markers). In the Old Testament, celebrations and symbols were mandated by God for various reasons. Such markers can occur in the form of holidays–such as Thanksgiving celebrated last week in the United States.
What milestones have you passed? Which ones are you approaching? Take time to celebrate and think.
This writing is my 600th post since launching this blog in 2010. For some bloggers, such is a small number. For me, it is a milestone of thanksgiving and reflection.
600. Thank you for being part of the journey.
One of the saddest states is having the desire to give thanks but not having a substantive object to whom you may direct your affections.
Oh yes, you may tell your friend, Thank you for the gift, or thank your relative for stopping by the house.
But to whom do you give thanks when it comes to the matters that exist beyond the control of humans? To whom do you give thanks when there is no god? Or when the only god that exists is one who could care less about you and your life?
I’m thankful for good health this past year. And to whom are you giving such thanks?
I’m thankful for my family. And to whom are you giving such thanks?
I’m thankful for this great food. And to whom are you giving such thanks?
Let us remember this Thanksgiving Day that we live and walk with many men and women whose hearts long to express gratitude toward an unknown Giver. Let’s tell them about Him.
“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me” (Psalm 86:12-13, ESV).
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD. For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. — Psalm 138 (ESV)
Here are the message notes.
If you would like a small group discussion guide, you may find it here.
I hope these resources will be of assistance to you and your ministry. And here are a couple of books I recommend for your studies in Jonah.
My 2015 book, To the Edge: Reflections on Kingdom Leadership, Mission, and Innovation, is on sale this week. You may find it for $0.99 on Kindle. Or, if you desire a hard copy, CreateSpace has it for $6.00. It has never been priced this low. Get a copy and share this news with others before the sale ends.
I remember when it was. Don’t you? I am not certain when Black Friday became a week.
Just a few years ago, Black Friday began late Thursday night (maybe we switched to a lunar calendar). Then it moved to sometime after everyone ate Turkey, had a nap, and needed to get away from company for a few hours by going shopping.
Now it is a week long event. Just another sign of the times.
To add to the sales and discounts, my book, To the Edge: Reflections on Kingdom Leadership, Mission, and Innovation is at the lowest price yet.
To the Edge was just published a few months ago. And I think it contains some of my most important thoughts to date. CreateSpace has the print edition for $6.00. Kindle has it for $0.99. I hope you will consider getting a copy and sharing this news with others.
When will this sale end? In one week, of course. For that is what Black Friday is.
Lord willing, I have the honor of preaching to the greatest church in the world this Sunday–The Church at Brook Hills (of course, I’m biased).
We will be in the Book of Jonah. While there are many excellent commentaries and other works examining this book, here are two of my favorite. They have been available for a few years. I would encourage you to add them to your library.
November 22 is the release date for the Kindle version of Apostolic Church Planting. Pre-order here.
As I mentioned before, I really like Marv Newell’s book, Expect Great Things. He encourages sharing these great quotes with others. Here are a few from the sections on “Character” and “Church and Mission”:
“The greatest hindrance to the advancement of the gospel worldwide is the failure of the lives of God’s people.” — John R. W. Stott
“The reason some folks don’t believe in missions is that the brand of religion they have isn’t worth propagating.” — Unknown
“Before strategy, activity, and analysis comes character. Any serious church planter. . . must be serious about displaying the fruit of the Spirit and having a Christ-like attitude in all areas of life.” — Unknown
“God is a missionary God. The Bible is a missionary book. The gospel is a missionary message. The church is a missionary institution. And when the church ceases to be missionary minded, it has denied its faith and betrayed its trust.” — J. Herbert Kane
“Mission. . . is seen as a movement from God to the world; the Church is viewed as an instrument for that mission. There is a church because there is a mission, not vice versa. — David J. Bosch
“Local churches are both the anchor and the lifeline of missions.” — Marv Newell
“[The minister] must learn how to lead the congregation on to make the extension of Christ’s kingdom the highest object of its corporate existence.” — Andrew Murray
Apostolic Church Planting is available for Kindle pre-order. I hope you will check it out and read what others have written about it.
I am scheduled to speak to a group of pastors tomorrow in St. Louis. These brothers are in the process of leading their churches in church planting.
Since this meeting is obviously on my heart at the moment, I want to direct you to a post I wrote earlier this year. There I addressed the need for pastors to stand on the bridge–a concept I plan to share tomorrow. If you have not had a chance to read it, or forgotten about it, then check it out.
Steve Jobs was known for his reality distortion field. Yes, he got some things accomplished, but he messed up–and messed up some others–big time along the way. And for me, how one gets to the accomplishment is just as important as the accomplishment as itself. What would it profit someone if he or she should gain the whole world and lose the soul in the process (Mark 8:36)?
There was much good to be found in Job’s leadership style. However, there is a difference between having a vision and creating fantasy-land.
The wise steward takes calculated risks here but is not willing to take that one there.
Speak the truth, cast the vision, lead others to own and accomplish that vision. But don’t attempt to paint reality to be something it is not. Be honest with reality and lead to change it.
Since writing Strangers Next Door, people continue to ask for stories of the gospel reaching not only people who migrated but also stories of them returning to their countries of birth with the gospel. While I share some stories in the book, we all desire more of them.
Baptist Press posted a great story last week on the blurring of the lines between North American and International missions. Check it out. Here is an example of the migration of a Vietnamese family to Virginia. They came to faith in Jesus and wanted to return to Vietnam to tell their family. The couple who introduced them to Christ was invited to come with them as their guests.
The Vietnamese are among the largest unreached people groups in the world. Several million live outside of Vietnam. The United States (with 1.7 million) is home to the largest group living in the diaspora.
I will let you read the details and conclusion of the story. As you read, ask:
Do we recognize a blurred line separates foreign and domestic missions?
Do we realize one possible future for short-term and long-term labors is based on what we are doing at home?
These are amazing and exciting times. Will we be faithful with them?