Category Archives: Ministry & Family Updates

Overwhelmed

Today, I just want to write some honest thoughts about living in China for seven years. I try to always write honestly and openly, but today I will be a little more transparent.

I am riding a speed train currently traveling 303 km/h (about 188 mph) through Northeast China on my way to the US Embassy. I need to get some paperwork notarized for our upcoming visas. I am typing my thoughts down on my MacBook Air that I bought several years ago. I don’t use a pencil or journal like missionaries of the past. Everything is typed. It helps me think. My phone is plugged in and charging on the train. I have 4G cell service even though all I can see out the window is rolling hills and greenery. China has modernized at an incredibly fast rate and is still growing. It is incredible how China is growing. Today, missionaries can get almost anything they want (especially through the internet importing services) if they have the money to afford it. Most missionary biographies you read about China are completely irrelevant and don’t represent the lives the we missionaries today live in China. This, of course, can be seen as a blessing and a curse.

Today, seven years ago, I took my beautiful wife and our two-year-old daughter and left on an amazing journey for China. When we were on deputation, we set a date by faith to leave for the field and, praise the Lord, we were able to leave for the field on that date. But it didn’t come without hardships. Less than two months before we left for the field, we lost our second child, our son was stillborn. This meant we landed on the field still grieving. We knew our son had a condition that was “incompatible with life” as the doctor put it and we had a long period to prepare ourselves for the inevitable, the Lord even gave us a special peace when it all happened. (There is an incredible story here.) But I didn’t realize how much my wife was still grieving. I didn’t realize how much culture shock, spiritual warfare (that hits you once you land on the field) and the process of grieving would attack my precious wife. The city we moved to had extremely cold and long winters with short days and little sunlight. An environment that doesn’t help a grieving heart and has its own physical and emotional challenges. (A combination of these factors, mixed with the task of learning Chinese made our first couple years on the field hard and probably not the most pleasant to host.) Looking back at it now, I think I failed at leading and protecting her like I should have and being the spiritual comfort and leader that she needed. It was a dark period for her but I didn’t give it much attention. To this, I apologize, my wife.

Out of past seven years, I have spent about 2,368 days in China and 189 days in the USA. That is a lot of days. I use to think about what my life would look like at this point. Here is a quick summary of what it does look like: Language—I have learned to speak Chinese well and have preached more in Chinese than I have in English. I am currently preaching and teaching in Chinese multiple times a week. I am slowly learning characters and am probably about 60% of where I need to be with reading them. I cannot write characters from memory besides the common things I use, such as my name. Family—Thankfully, I am still married to the wonderful lady that I married ten years ago this month. She has been such a trooper. We have been through so much together. Each year brings us closer and makes me more thankful for her. We have been in the war together when everything seemed like the sky was falling—we came through the other side together. This doesn’t mean our relationship has been easy—it has been hard work, but hard work that is worth it and aims to bring God glory in it. I have three beautiful daughters all with unique personalities. All of them constantly brings a smile to our faces as we watch them grow up and get to know them better. We are also expecting twins…so our family is still growing. Also, adoption still isn’t out of the picture. Ministry—after language school we pioneered our ministry in a new city. Getting things going and improving in the language took longer than I expected. But we have now planted one church and have started training two men who have surrendered to full-time ministry. We plan to pour our lives into these two men (and other men the Lord gives us) and see more work done here in China.

The title of this post is “overwhelmed” because I am overwhelmed at the goodness of God in my life and what He has allowed me to do and allowed me to become even though I am not worthy at all. Anyone who knows us knows that everything that has been accomplished has been because of God’s grace. I have grown so much in the past years and I am in love more with Jesus today than I was seven years ago. My identity is solely found in Him and not in being a missionary or in the opinions of others. To this, I am forever thankful.

Another purpose this post is called “overwhelmed” is because of two reasons (1) I live in a mega city doing intercity missions; (2) the thousands of houses and villages I am passing on the train right now. I am overwhelmed by the work here. People often misunderstand China as having no churches or they understand it as having an incredible revival. I haven’t seen either. China does have a TON of churches. Most cities I know about have some churches, some gospel witness, most universities I have heard of have Christian foreign teachers, etc. (not to say the type of these, but at least Christian in name). We have lots of unbelievers visit our church and we also have a lot of Christians visit our church. China is a weird place when it comes to religion. We have had teammates kicked out for church planting but just a couple of weeks ago I walked in a restaurant and every waiter had a shirt on that says, “Jesus loves you” in Chinese.

Let me explain (1) I live in a mega city doing intercity missions—our city has six million people in it. How many churches is enough? Can we plant that many? Could I spend my whole life within just this small radius? You never really feel a sense of accomplishment because you can’t really “canvas” areas with gospel literature. Although we have tried that in certain areas. Everything is always changing and the people are always rotating. You never have the small town feel of every time you go out it is the same people and you are building a relationship with them. People come and go–the turnover rate is high. We are intercity, we are illegal, we don’t have traditional church buildings, we cannot compete (with the government churches like you could compete against in a free society, thus they become the standard)…we are the black-sheep—living in a margin of society that isn’t fully accepted and if too abrasive and open could get you into serious trouble or expulsion from the country.

Let me explain (2) the thousands of houses and villages I am passing on the train right now—when will they get the gospel? Do they have the gospel? Do I go? Do I pass up a few hundred thousand people to go reach a village with just a few families living there? What about that one single house I saw on the side of the mountain and looked like someone was actively living there? How do I advance the gospel forward to all people? It is one thing when you see a picture or read a blog post, but what about when you are living among them? And just like the city seems like an endless sea of people, the villages continue to appear out the windows.

I have arrived at my station….overwhelmed.

Ministry Events Schedule (Early 2017)

Our schedule has changed many times since we have started doing ministry in China. I often write down our schedule to think about what we need to change and do better. I also like hearing from others about their ministry schedules because it gives me new ideas. (Comment and share yours below.)

We have tried many things, and through trial and error, here is what our current ministry schedule looks like (this isn’t an entire daily schedule but just the weekly scheduled ministry events):

  • Monday-Friday morning from 9:00-13:00 we host seminary classes (Chinese) at the church.
  • Wednesday evening from 18:30-20:00 we have a meal and small group Bible studies (Chinese/English) at the church. Currently, we have four groups. Two of the groups are Chinese only and two of the groups are a mix of English and Chinese. I teach a Chinese group and it is specifically for married couples.
  • Friday night outreach 17:30-finished (Chinese). We often try to get together with others in the church to share a meal together and get to know them on a more personal level. We have started hosting these in our house so the whole family can be involved.
  • (Saturday is our day off now.)
  • Sunday is broken down as the following:
    • From 9:00-10:15 we have Kids’ Bible Club (Chinese/English). The kids club is bilingual for outreach purposes. The English is the draw but the Chinese is used to make sure everyone understands the lessons.
    • From 9:30-10:15 we have Adult Sunday School (Chinese). Currently, we have two classes.
    • From 10:30-11:30 we have morning worship (Chinese).
    • From 11:30-12:00 we have a quick lunch at the church.
    • From 12:00-1:00 we have afternoon worship (Chinese).
    • From 19:00-20:00 we have an English corner outreach (English).

Money (8 of 11) What Is The Biblical Understanding Of Tithing?

What Is The Biblical Understanding Of Tithing?

The Biblical understanding of tithing is that God commanded the children of Israel to give multiple “one-tenths” of their agricultural produce and/or livestock as a way to support the Levites, celebrate festivals, to help others in need and worship God. Ultimately, the multiple tithes were fulfilled in Jesus and believers have a new paradigm for giving.

The Misconception Of “The Tithe Offering”

  • The “tithe” in the Bible is often misrepresented and therefore leads to a misunderstanding about the responsibility of a believer and how God has planned for him to be a giver. The definition about tithing that has led many to misunderstand it is: “Tithing is a required universal offering by which you give a total of only one-tenth of all your income to God”. This is an oversimplification and wrong definition of the “tithe” that is found in the Bible because: (1) the Bible presents more than one type of tithe; (2) the requirements for these are specific and not just based on a person’s income; (3) the total amount given of these comprised more than one-tenth when added together (even though the word “tithe” means one-tenth); (4) it is never commanded as a universal obligation for all people for all times but for a specific people for a specific time.
  • The Bible describes four different tithes that were commanded in the law of Moses. We need to examine each of these “tithes” to consider: (1) who was the giver; (2) what were they to give; (3) where was the gift to be given; (4) why were they to give; (5) when were they required to give.
  • The Levitical Tithe—The Israelites were commanded by God to give one-tenth of their seed or fruit and every tenth animal from their herd or flock to the children of Levi in return for their service that they did in the tabernacle of the congregation. They were to give this tithe when their crops were harvested and as their livestock increased accordingly.
    Numbers 18:21-24; Leviticus 27:30-33
  • The Priestly Tithe—The Levites, who were the priest, were commanded by God to give one-tenth from the Levitical tithe that they received from the Israelites as a heave offering for the Lord.
    Numbers 18:25-32
  • The Festival Tithe—The Israelites were commanded by God to give one-tenth of their “increase from the field” including the firstlings of their livestock to celebrate their festivals (i.e., passover, tabernacles, weeks). They were to do this once a year and bring this tithe to “the place which He shall choose to place His name” or Jerusalem to learn to fear the Lord their God always. If you couldn’t take the stuff to Jerusalem, then you could sell the tithe of the crops and livestock so that you have money and then take the money to Jerusalem and buy what you needed to celebrate the festivals with your family.
    Deuteronomy 14:22-27; 16:16 (Exodus 23:14-17; Leviticus 23:1-44; Deuteronomy 16:1-17)
  • The Charity Tithe—The Israelites were commanded by God to give one-tenth of their agricultural produce for that year and store it up in their cities to feed the Levites, the strangers (foreigners), the fatherless children or orphans and the widows that lived in their cities. This was only to be done once every three years. In response to this tithe the Lord said He would bless them in all the work of their hands that they do.
    Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-15
  • The Sabbatical Year—The Israelites were commanded by God to let the land rest for one year, meaning they weren’t allowed to sow or gather in their crop, thus possibly excusing the need for the tithe in this year. This was only to be done once every seven years. The natural crop that grew could be taken for food by anyone and God would bless the sixth year’s harvest to produce a crop sufficient for three years for them.
    Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7; 17-23
  • What was the total amount that an Israelite was required to give through the different tithes? This is actually impossible to calculate because: (1) it is “possible” their agricultural produce and livestock were only subject to the tithes and not their entire income i.e. money earned like a fisherman or carpenter; (2) they were only required to give every tenth animal from their livestocks, so this would be a different percentage based on how many animals you had at the time i.e. you only have to give one cow if you have fifteen (6.6%). Therefore, the best estimate that we can see from the Bible’s tithing requirements was that they gave around 20% of their agricultural produce and livestock every year but gave around 30% every third year because of the added charity tithe. Thus, it doesn’t seem that 10% was ever a total amount they gave—it was always more. Finally, we must remember that there were still other offerings that were obligatory and voluntary that the Israelites were to give (i.e., burnt offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, trespass offerings, meal or meat offerings, heave offerings—although some might be included within the tithes).

The Different Tithes Before And After The Law

  • Before the law of Moses there is no command concerning tithing—nor any examples of the levitical, priestly, festival, or charity tithes. But there are two examples of people giving one-tenth (both are descriptive and not prescriptive). First, Abraham gave away 100% of the goods seized in his military victory, giving 10% to Melchizedek who was king of Salem and the priest of the most high God, and then giving a portion to the men who went with him and finally giving the rest to the king of Sodom. Second, Jacob promised to give one-tenth to God of all that God gave him when the conditions of the vow were fulfilled.
    Genesis 14:17-24; 28:18-22
  • After the law of Moses was fulfilled in Jesus, there is no command concerning tithing—nor any examples of the levitical, priestly, festival, or charity tithes because each have been fulfilled in the New Testament and are no longer necessary. Instead, we are given a new paradigm for giving. Also, the only time the “tithe” is mentioned in the New Testament is when Jesus is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, He is telling a parable or when it is referenced in an Old Testament story (all are descriptive and not prescriptive).
    Matthew 23:23-24; Luke 18:9-14; Hebrews 7:1-10 (Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 10:4; Colossians 2:16-23; Ephesians 2:11-22)

Principals Learned From The Different Tithes

  • Even though the four tithes are no longer binding on believers living under grace like they were for the Israelites living under the law, we can learn the following principals from them: (1) God wants His people to support those who serve Him full-time; (2) those who receive this support should also be givers and not just takers; (3) we should use our money to worship God and lead our families to worship God; (4) God wants His people to care and proved for those in need especially the poor and marginalized.
  • As believers, we live by faith and grow in our knowledge of the Bible. We allow the Bible to change our conscience and preconceived ideas. Not every believer understands these truths concerning the tithes or some may even disagree with these conclusions. Either way, we should not judge or despise each other. Thus, in an effort to not offend others it is “recommended” that giving should be at least one-tenth of your income if you can do so by faith and with an attitude of “giving God thanks”—because no one disagrees with giving 10% or more to God, the contention is always on the minimum.
    Romans 14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 8:7-13

Review Questions

  • How many tithes are commanded in the Old Testament?
  • What are the different tithes?
  • What was the total amount of all the tithes?
  • Was their required tithing before and after the law?
  • What are principles we learn from the different tithes?

Firm Foundations Seven (1 of 11) Christian Parenting

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 |Book 6 | Book 7 | Book 8 |

Rearing In The Faith

Parenting is a joyful experience for many, but also a very frustrating time because parents receive so much contradictory advice from the world about the best methods of parenting. These methods change each year, but the Bible’s methods don’t. They don’t change over time or because of culture. God has given authority to parents over their children to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. By faith, parents faithfully apply the biblical method of the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction) as God works in the hearts of their children. In these lessons, we want to help you understand what these truths are and how to use Scripture and Christian principles so that you can shepherd your children’s hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel.

Book 7, Lessons 61-70

This is the seventh book in our Firm Foundations series. It covers the seventh set of ten lessons to help you rear your children in the faith. These lessons are considered the basic understanding of Christian marriage. These lessons will hopefully help you to know the relationship between a parent and child and how to bring up a family who is oriented towards God. These lessons include:

  1. What Is The Biblical Purpose Of Parenting?
  2. What Is The Biblical Authority Of Parenting?
  3. What Is The Biblical Method Of Parenting?
  4. What Are Responsible Attitudes Of Parenting?
  5. How Do I Train My Children In The Lord?
  6. How Do I Organize Family Worship?
  7. How Do I Create A Household Of Grace?
  8. What Is The Biblical Role Of A Father?
  9. What Is The Biblical Role Of A Mother?
  10. What About When Parenting Doesn’t Work?

About The Lessons

Each lesson has a main truth, a simple outline that supports it, Bible references under many of the points, and review questions at the end. These lessons are best used when a mature believer is able to guide you through them, studying one lesson per session.

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 |Book 6 | Book 7 | Book 8 |

Missionary Covenant

A few years ago, I used a covenant some on our team used for short-term groups visiting the mission field and adapted it to make it our own for the groups that we had coming over. Now, I took that version and made it into a “missionary” version, that serves as a reminded of our tasks as missionaries.


Missionary Covenant

I recognize and accept the following conditions which will further the usefulness and safety of my mission. I understand that my mission field does not have the same conveniences that I am used to at home. I realize how important it is to be flexible and I am willing to adjust. I agree to the following:

  • I will go as a servant-disciple of Jesus Christ and will adopt this attitude when dealing with those I was sent tor each. I will maintain and exhibit a good attitude that will honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. As a Christian, I realize that it is my responsibility to die to myself and seek to serve others. I will not seek my own, but that of others. This means not putting myself first and leaving others out. I will be a blessing to all.
  • I realize and agree that this is a mission and not a vacation. I want to go to the mission field to serve God, and to bring the gospel message to the lost. I will not complain about the food, lodging accommodations, etc. I will conscientiously set aside time to have my personal devotions and take care of my daily responsibilities both spiritually and physically. I will first lead my family in worship and then lead those I have come to reach in worship. I will carry my share of the load in the work we are trying to accomplish.
  • I will accept and submit to the position of a learner as I learn the culture and language.  I will be a servant-leader and promise to lead by example. I will become all things concerning attire, eating, drinking and other such traditions which will help me to assimilate into the local community. I agree that in the event that my conduct is considered so unsatisfactory that it jeopardizes the success of the mission, and that mediation on the mission field has failed to correct my or my family’s behavior, that my services in connection with this mission shall end and I shall return home to seek further help.
  • I will trust God to provide my funds to be able to pay for this trip. I won’t take advantage of my support or live lavishly at the expense of my supporters. I will be financial responsibility and accountable for my support and will use it to further the mission. I serve God, not support.
  • I will be a gracious guest to those I desire to reach. I realize I am a foreigner and will not act carelessly. I will serve, give and ask what I can do to have good works in the community. I will be respectful of their way of life. I will treat their country positively and not speak negatively about it. I will try to be a blessing to the locals so they will be glad and thankful that I came to their country.
  • I will remember I am a Christian from another part of the world and will be watched very closely. I realize that they will look at me for an example of how a Christian acts, and will not treat that responsibility lightly. I promise not to be overly demanding of the people, to do my best not to offend or cause embarrassment for the one whose name I bear, and to do my best to help them attain eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus.
  • I understand that the missionary life can be difficult and I promise to adopt a flexible attitude and be supportive as plans may need to be changed.
  • I desire to plant a church and make disciples. I yearn to grow spiritually and to maintain a joyful attitude. I am willing and physically able to work long and changing hours. I will be bold enough to obey the bible even if it risk expulsion from the country.

Blessed! I get to work with great people!

I am truly blessed. I get to work with so many great people who serve in so many ways. The Lord has built us a small team of missionaries who are at different stages, but all work together to further the ministry in China.

  • My wife has done a great job at leading the women’s ministry. She taught them in Chinese at their last meeting and I very proud of her for doing so. She has hosted several activities to reach out to them and organize areas for the women to serve in the church. Also, she has helped lead and teach the kids’ club that we host on Sunday mornings. She plans the lessons and sends the instructions out to everyone for that week. She wears many hats around the church and is often the one who has the stress of having to do something if someone else doesn’t show up.
  • Dan and Kasey have also been a blessing to the minsitry. We didn’t know them before we came to China, but the Lord has allowed our paths to cross and we have become great friends and partners in the ministry. Dan leads our music ministry and uses it to reach out to new people. Kasey helps with the kids ministry and is gifted with coming up with great craft ideas to help the kids remember that day’s lesson.
  • Ben and Crystal are the newest to join us here. They also have been a blessing and help in the short amount of time that they have been here. Both are dedicated to learning the language and they show it by the hours they put into studying the language everyday. They are making great progress. They don’t just study the language but also serve. They both help with the games at kids’ club so that kids have fun and want to come back. Ben practises his Chinese by greeting people as they come in and reaches out to others at our English corner. Crystal helps in the small areas that most people won’t notice, like restocking things when they are out, helping with the dishes after our Sunday lunch or watching the kids. We have already seen a few visitors on Sunday morning from their influence.

I am blessed to be able to call all of them my friends.

Space Available, One Week, God Worked!

Since we moved to our current church location over a year ago, we have had the vision of expanding. We have been seeing who our “neighbors” were and thought about the possibility of eventually renting one of their spaces if they ever moved. Back in the summer, one of the guys told the neighboring business that if they ever decided to move, to let us know because we might be interested in renting it. Then at the end of January, he came and let us know that they were planning on moving! This was good news because it came at a time when we needed more space and not just dreaming about needing more space. There was a small problem: we didn’t have the funds on hand to pay the year rent up front that was necessary. We talked with the home homeowner and got a great deal on the space, but we needed the funds.

I tried to think of ways to get it, but my hands were tied unless we decided to make an unwise decision. Maybe God didn’t want us to have the space. But if we didn’t rent it now, we didn’t know when it would be available again. We knew what we needed to do: pray and trust God with it. We decided that we would ask the Lord for the funds, make our needs known and see what God does. If he gives us the resources then we will take it that he wants us to rent it, and if he doesn’t then we will take it that he doesn’t want us to have it now.

We also had a short timeframe. We told the homeowner that we wanted to rent it (even though we didn’t have the funds) and that we would sign the contract on February 1st. That means we had about one week to raise the money.

On Tuesday, January 26, 2016, at 4:11 PM I sent out an email entitled “Read and Pray” that read as follows:

Please read and pray: A great opportunity!

Dear Pastors, Partners and Praying Friends:

Our church rents a room on the 25th floor of a 30 story building. As you can imagine, doing church in China is different than many places. We can’t build or buy church buildings. Space in the city is limited. But we have a great opportunity because the office space directly across from us is available for rent. We have talked with the owner and he has given a great price! We can rent the space for $400 a month. But we have to pay one year’s rent upfront which is a total of $4,800. Unfortunately, at this moment we don’t have those funds available. So we are praying that God will give us the funds before February 1st, which is the day we can sign the contract!

This space won’t replace our current church space but it will expand it and also give a place for our interns and other young men to live. This is a great opportunity because it helps us with space issues and once the space is rented out to another renter, we don’t know when or if it will be available for us to rent again! Since it is directly across from us, it makes it the most convenient and obvious option to expand into!

Please pray with us over the next couple of days that we can raise $4,800! If you are interested in giving to this please contact us since the time is limited!

And what happened next was exciting. People started to respond to the email. People began responding saying that they would give, and others replied that they were praying. We also sent out a similar statement to our Chinese church ring on social media. They started to respond and pray as well! The next few days were excited as we watched God work.

I sent the final email update on Sunday, January 31, 2016, at 9:05 am “Read and Pray – Update 5” that read as follows:

Update #5: Please read and pray!

Dear Pastors, Partners and Praying Friends:

The Lord has answered our prayers! We have a total of $5,526 pledged for our $4,800 goal! This morning at 8:30 (China Time) we went and signed the contract to our new place that the church will use to expand its’ space! Thank you for praying! Thank you for giving!

God used about 7 Chinese and 10 Americans to help meet this need. Praise the Lord! He answered our prayers and showed us in a strong way that the work is to go forward here.

Now, we are working on having a wall taken out so we can expand our auditorium space and turn our new space into kids’ rooms and a place for interns to stay.

Thank you for praying and giving! May the Lord be glorified!

Weekly Mind Dump: Holiday Rant

✪ Sometimes I get onto American news websites to see what is going on back across the ocean. I read the following headline: “Some Christians Are Extremely Unhappy About Starbucks’ New Holiday Cups” and then I proceeded to read the article. I was baffled. My first thought was: “What a bunch of idiots!” Then I realized that wasn’t very nice. But seriously, you are offended by a bunch of red coffee cups?

✪ So let’s get this out there: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are not Biblical holidays. The Scriptures do not command, encourage, teach or prohibit them. We are to be lights in the world every day, not cultural crybabies who whine when nonbelievers don’t celebrate a cultural holiday with the same moral tone that we do. As a Christian, there is no moral obligation to celebrate these holidays.

✪ Getting upset about an unbeliever not saying, “Merry Christmas” is silly if we stop and think about it. Would you expect an unbeliever to go around saying “Jesus loves you!”? No! You, Christian, are to be the salt and light in the world, not the unbeliever! Stop watching Fox News and tell someone, “Jesus loves you” (because when you tell them Merry Christmas anyways they just think about Santa Clause, not Jesus)!

✪ Recently Read: The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History – I actually really enjoyed this book. I got way more out if it than I was expecting. I was just looking for a book to read about the origins of Thanksgiving and was this packed full of that and so much more. If you like thanksgiving, history and are a Christian then you will probably enjoy this book as well. From the book: “Finally, and most important, we cannot positively conclude what kind of religious significance, if any, the Pilgrims imputed to the celebration. While American Christians have been accustomed to think of Thanksgiving as an intrinsically religious holiday, Winslow makes no mention of prayer or worship in his pithy description. Curious, isn’t it?” [1]

✪ Below are some quotes about the pilgrims that will probably blow your mind:

✪ Quote: “…the Pilgrims were suspicious of almost all regular holidays, viewing them as papist inventions. This means that they didn’t celebrate Christmas. As Pastor Robinson had noted, nowhere in the Bible are we told that December 25 was Jesus’ birthday; the occasion looked suspiciously like an excuse for a pagan celebration. (When Puritans briefly controlled the Parliament in the middle of the seventeenth century, they actually enacted a national law prohibiting observance of the day.) Nor did they celebrate Easter, which similarly lacked an express scriptural mandate. Every Sunday was a commemoration of the resurrection, and to set apart one Sunday each year from all the rest was presumptuous.” [2]

✪ Quote: “Finally, while they looked on marriage as a divinely ordained institution, they wanted nothing to do with church marriages. God had given marriage to “Gentiles” as well as Christians, and he had never explicitly charged pastors with solemnizing the relationship. By only recognizing marriages performed by a priest, both Catholics and Anglicans were guilty of aggrandizing the role of the church and forcing unbelievers to submit to a religious rite. Couples truly faithful to the Word of God would insist on being married by a civil magistrate.” [3]

✪ Quote: “When the Pilgrims prayed—something they did frequently and, from our perspective, at great length—they thought it best to look upward with their eyes open, not downward with their eyes closed. “The eyes of the mind are lifted to God in prayer,” taught Pastor Robinson. “Why not the eyes of the body also?” At meals they thought it best to pray not once, but twice. Before the meal they “craved [God’s] blessing upon that we had and were about to eat,” Winslow explained, while afterward they “again returned thanks to the same Our God” for his having done so.” [4]

✪ Quote: “These 115 words constitute the sum total of contemporary evidence regarding the First Thanksgiving … Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.” [5]

✪ Quote: “The Pilgrims rejected the King James Bible. (Gasp here.) James had actually commissioned that famous translation to counter the Geneva Bible of 1560. That edition, so beloved by English Puritans, had included marginal explanatory notes undermining the “divine right of kings,” and the monarch detested it.” [6]

Weekly Mind Dump: Books

✪ If you are like me then you probably have a lot of books you read 70-80% but never finished. I had some extra time to get caught up with those this week.

✪ Send Me, I’ll Go: Letting the Mission Choose Your Direction – My favorite chapters are probably 8-10. This book powerfully shows how the church is commanded to ‘proactively declare the gospel to unbelieving individuals in an effort to make them maturing disciples of Christ’. From this position, that of the great commission being the paradigm for the church, the author argues that this should result in an increase of disciple-makers being exported into all the world, especially sent to those places where ‘unheards’ are in abundance, and the light of the gospel is dim. It pleads for those whose lives have been changed by the gospel to surrender their plans, interests, passions, and dreams so that they can be thrust into the gospel-dark places of the world. He doesn’t hold back on the cost of fulfilling such a task and calls us to be willing to pay whatever price necessary to make ‘maturing disciples’ of the nations. From the book: “the cultural mandate given in Genesis is like the original road that man was to follow before he got off course; the Great Commission is the new, “recalculated” course that the GPS has drawn to take us to our original destination, out of the mess into which we have got ourselves.” [1]

✪ done.: What most religions don’t tell you about the Bible – I started reading this book because they have it in Chinese. I finally finished it. It is a short book that is written more like an extended tract and presents the gospel with more information that a single page tract could. This quote from the book sums it up: “…it’s not about DO…it’s about DONE!” [2]

✪ Worship Matters (Foreword by Paul Baloche): Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God – I enjoyed this book. I have no music talent whatsoever, but I am helping lead those who do and learning how to teach them to lead in their respective music ministry, so this was a helpful book. From the book: “Being an artist is no justification for sin. If I care about my team, I’ll hold them accountable to pursue godly character and will help them grow.5 I’ll take the time to follow up on questions or concerns I have about someone’s behavior. If it turns out they’re unwilling to change, I’ll get a pastor involved and will possibly ask them to take a sabbatical. Their godly attitude is more important to me than their great musicianship.” [3]

✪ Lincoln On Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times – I loved this book. It examines the life of Abraham Lincoln and boils down his leadership style into several practical points that we can apply to our lives. It is helpful to see his life as the example of the leadership played out instead of just reading some principles. All striving leaders should read this book. From the book: “Abraham Lincoln was naturally inquisitive, and he possessed this inherent capacity to learn. He also had the desire to learn new things, which led him to be unusually innovative. It is no wonder that he changed the American presidency so profoundly in the span of only four years.” [4]

✪ My mother-in-law arrived and will be with us this week. We have loved her being here. The kids are enjoying their time with her!

✪ We restarted the Kids’ Club finally…on Sunday mornings. This will help with focusing on getting kids into church, as it is right before our morning service and keeping the focus on those who don’t have a church. We had a good turnout last week, even though we didn’t announce it until Saturday afternoon.

✪ My wife and mother-in-law made an early “Thanksgiving dinner” last night, and it was awesome!

✪ We are completely humbled from Sunday. The church had a pastor appreciation time for my wife and I during the second service. They gave me flowers to give to my wife and then had me publicly thank her for serving with me. Then they presented each of us with a plaque. Finally, each person stood up and said encouraging words about how God has used us in their lives. We are truly blessed, and all the glory goes to God!

✪ God is working in China. Consider coming and working with us! God bless!

At a Crossroads – Direction Known

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I want to thank everyone for praying for us over the past week and a half. It has been a stressful and trying time. Through prayer, counsel and open doors we finally know the direction we are going.

First, we plan on staying in the city and continuing our ministry here. Our actual identities are not known. We don’t see a direct threat. With the information they do know; they could eventually find out who we are if they truly were wanting to know, but they haven’t seemed to pursue it at this time.

Second, we moved the church from the residential location to a commercial location. The new location means I can be involved back in the services of the church immediately. I preached both services this past Sunday. Also, before renting this new location we asked all the surrounding businesses if our services on Sunday would be a problem for them and they all said, “no.” (Renting commercial space has its benefits… planning to write more about the benefits of this in the future. The one downside is the extra cost.)

Third, for political reasons, I will still not be the official pastor of the church but will do many of the functions of a pastor until the church has one. (This is more of a word game that, hopefully, will help us with future run-ins with the police.)

Summary: The church has moved to a new commercial location that will, hopefully, help meet its needs and allow for future growth. We will continue to lead the church and train up young men as the Lord allows. We are moving forward trusting the Lord!

(We could be wrong about all these decisions.)

P.S. We have some different projects and that we are working on and if you are interested in helping the local church here with any of these financially, let me know and I can give you more details.

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