December 12, 2014
by Floyd
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Is It Really Possible?

Is it possible to complete the great commission?  And if it is possible to “make disciples of all nations” as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28, should it be something we should really worry about?

I believe we should.  So does Mary Ho of All Nations, Grandview, Missouri.

The following is an article written by Mary, calling us to give very serious attention to “completion”.  Completion of the Great Commission in this Generation has become a rallying cry for many people in the body of Christ in the last hundred years.  And it is making a difference!

Making Our Lives Count for Zero – by Mary Ho

Two transformational moments altered my life. The first was that Jesus called me when I was 17 years old to follow Him. The second was that eight years ago—after already following Jesus for 25 years— I found a truth that overturned my life. The truth is that our generation lives in the most pivotal time of history since Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection! Throughout history, some generations have laid foundations; others have built. But I believe we are born into the generation that will complete the Great Commission. Jesus has passed into our hands the baton of finishing the Great Commission in our lifetime—not fifty or a hundred years later. Jesus is calling us to be part of the global initiative to Count for Zero[i]: 0 people groups without fulltime workers, 0 languages without a Bible translation, and 0 villages without a community of followers. He is calling us to make our lives count for zero, that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord!

When Jesus mandated us to go and make disciples of “all nations” or panta ta ethne in Greek, He was literally commanding us to disciple all the peoples of the world. According to Finishing the Task, of the 16,350 people groups in the world, there are currently only 6,541 people groups “unreached” by the gospel (less than 2 percent evangelicals) and only 3,004 “unengaged” people groups in the world where there are NO KNOWN workers engaging these peoples with the good news. These unengaged unreached people groups (UUPG) urgently need apostolic teams in residence committed to working long-term in the local language and culture and to igniting disciple making movements.

Is this mandate to catalyze a disciple-making movement in every remaining UUPG do-able in our lifetime? According to Operation World, China alone has 100,000 cross-cultural workers and the U.S. alone sends out 93,500 longterm workers to the nations! This mandate to make disciples of every people is more than attainable in our generation. But the sad reality is that only 10 percent of the global workforce goes where it is unreached and unengaged[ii], and where there are no known believers or workers.

Two days ago, Pam Arlund and I just came back from Finishing the Task meetings at Saddleback in California. It was a gathering of practitioners, leaders, and passionate men and women who have given their lives to getting the job done. We heard from a young Muslim background believer who was persecuted for her faith and died. But Jesus gave her a choice to go to heaven or come back, and she chose to come back to share Jesus. Pam and I are in dialogue with a near-culture worker sharing Jesus among 70 unengaged unreached people groups in Asia. On the plane ride, we were grappling with what we need to modify to more effectively trigger movements among the unreached.

I have in my study at home a baton that Pam gave me a year ago inscribed with Paul’s charge to Timothy, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (2:2). Like Paul, we are to make it our ambition to preach where Jesus is not known, and to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. From this meeting, Pam and I have the latest verified list of remaining unengaged unreached people groups (link below). We would like to invite each of you in various nations to prayerfully view this list and adopt at least three groups for prayer, vision trips, engagement and planting communities. Many of the countries you are living in have multiple unreached people groups. India tops this list with 236 UUPGs, then China 208, and Sudan 123. But in this age of global migration, even a European nation like France has 33 UUPGs, Germany 21, and the Netherlands 13. The largest Muslim country of Indonesia has 71 UUPGs, and the smaller country of Oman 27. These unreached people groups are within our reach and often within our geographical radius. So let us divide the task and finish the job!

We as AN family are called to be movement makers. We are called to be the generation that completes the great commission. We are called to make our lives count for zero!

[i] I borrowed the term “count for zero” from Issachar Initiative.

[ii] From Finishing the Task by Ralph Winter and Bruce Koch.

Finishing The Task UUPG list:          http://bit.ly/1x8qMsI

 

 

November 26, 2014
by Floyd
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The Power of “No”

The excerpts below are from a great article from Psychology Today, titled The Power of No.  I highly commend this article, found on the Psychology Today site:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201310/the-power-no

Here are a few carefully chosen excerpts:

“As a general guideline, five situations benefit from increasing strength to say No.

When it keeps you true to your principles and values. It’s a beautiful thing – emotionally, spiritually, and even professionally – to be generous, to be supportive. But, as sociologists Roger Mayer, James Davis, and F. David Schoorman point out in their classic studies of organizations; integrity is as essential as benevolence in establishing interpersonal trust. It is a requirement for effectiveness…

When it protects you from cheerful exploitation by others.  It’s remarkable how much some people will ask of you, even demand from you, things for which you yourself wouldn’t dream of asking. Protect yourself best from the many who feel entitled to ask by being strong enough to say a firm, clear, calm No….

When it keeps you focused on your own goals.  When her boss criticized her for the second time as a “Chatty Cathy” whose work was late because she wasted too much time talking, Amy felt hurt and unfairly evaluated. Was it her fault that people loved to stop by her cubicle? How was she supposed to turn away Marsha, whose aging mother presented so many problems, or Jim, who wanted her thoughts on the best way to proceed with their clients? Her colleagues needed her support; cutting them short would hurt their feelings and her relationships…

When it protects you from abuse by others.  Sadly, our most important relationships often invite our ugliest communications. In part that’s because the people closest to us arouse our strongest emotions, and in part it’s because they are the people we fear losing the most. Fear can sap the strength we need to say No, just when we need that power most…

When you need the strength to change course.  The invitations are in the mail, but the impending marriage is a mistake. The job looks good to the rest of the world, but it’s making you sick in the morning. Your family has sacrificed to pay the tuition, but law school feels like a poor fit. When you find yourself going down the wrong road, No is the power necessary to turn yourself around….

The problem is getting ourselves to do it. Accessing your own power requires overcoming one huge obstacle: the cost of dishing out No.

Dishing It Out

Simply, No is not a warm send. It’s tough to deliver, largely because we have a gut sense of how it will be received – not well…”

What follows in the article is sage advise about how to say no – and the cost of doing so…to read the complete article go to the link above.

 

November 24, 2014
by Floyd
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Why Jesus Said “No”

Matt 4:1-11  –  Jesus said no to leadership power, position and prestige

Matt 5:31-32  –  Jesus says no to divorce for any reason except breaking one’s marriage vows

Matt 5:33-37  –  Jesus said no to making superficial oaths

Matt 6:25  –  Jesus said no to worry

Matt 10:34  –  Jesus said no to false unity

Matt 11:20-24  –  Jesus said no to impenitent cities

Matt 12:1-14  –  Jesus said no to religious legalists

Matt 12:32-42  –  Jesus said no to doing miraculous signs

Matt 12:46-50  –  Jesus said no to his mother and brothers

Matt 16:23  –  Jesus said no to a key leader

Matt 17:1-10  –  Jesus said no to staying in God’s glory

Matt 17:9  –  Jesus said no to speaking the vision too soon

Matt 17:24-27  –  Jesus said no to disregarding an oppressive government

Matt 21:12-13  –  Jesus said no to exploitation and injustice of the poor

Matt 26:39  –  Jesus said no to taking the easy way out

November 21, 2014
by Floyd
2 Comments

15 Things To Say “No” To

  1. Say no to negative chatter about others
  2. Say no to emotional entanglement in relationships
  3. Say no to life without margins
  4. Say no to compromising your values
  5. Say no to pleasing people
  6. Say no to being made responsible for the choices of others
  7. Say no if you can’t follow through
  8. Say no to the destructive thoughts of your inner-voice against your own self
  9. Say no to people who are not good for you
  10. Say no to jealousy
  11. Say no to being a slave
  12. Say no to bad eating habits
  13. Say no to self-absorption
  14. Say no to lack of accountability in your life
  15. Say no to “great opportunities” – to stay true to family and calling

November 17, 2014
by Floyd
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The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You – Part Three

Jesus had fruit that followed him because he lived a determined life.  He cultivated the heart of a warrior and the lifestyle of a lover. He was fiery, he was focused, he was secure. Everything he did flowed out of a secure, love relationship with the Father.

This kind of love is warfare… not necessarily an aggressive, frontal attack kind of warfare, but warfare born of love. Having spiritual fruit that follows us to heaven is the result of fighting for what we love and believe in on earth.

To attack a baby with it’s mother nearby is an invitation to a fight. A mother defends her children to the death because of love. She conceived them in intimacy, birthed them in pain, and nursed them with tender care. They are hers. They belong to her and she to them.

Whether male or female, extrovert or introvert, we are all called to warfare. Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.” Paul said, “I have fought the good fight.”  These words speak of facing trials, tests and being overcomers by fighting for what is ours.

Having fruit that follows us is the result of living a well-directioned life. We face forward, toward the prize. We look forward to hearing “well done.” We know the direction God has called us to face and we face it…not to the right, not the left, but straight ahead.

God determines forward for you. It may not be my forward, but it is your forward. It is the right direction.

We each are assigned a destiny in life… God shapes us and lays sovereign foundations in our lives:  our race, our culture, our ancestry, our personalities and gifts… these are His gifts to us.  It is up to us to receive these “gifts” and develop them for the specific purpose he has for our lives.

If we are to take hold of our destiny, it will be the result of fierce focus on the main thing, that one thing, the purpose and calling of God for our lives. Those who give in to difficult circumstances and challenges in life, those who lose sight of God’s direction for them, lose out.

Having fruit that follows us is the result of living a well-disciplined life. Jesus refused to compromise the truth. He spent time with the Father on a regular basis. He said “no” to lesser passions. He cultivated a life of fasting, prayer, scripture reading and speaking about the Father.

When some of his disciples fell away, Jesus stayed true to the Father. When he faced suffering and death, Jesus said to the Father, “Let this cup pass from me…but never-the-less, your will not mine be done.”

This is not a popular Twitter topic. It’s not news-feed you read much about on FB. There is a well-deserved reaction to religion versus relationship amongst young evangelicals, I agree, but with that reaction we must not throw out the good with the bad. Don’t throw out spiritual disciplines to avoid un-spiritual religion.

By-all-means enjoy life. Life is God’s gift to us to be celebrated. Laugh, play, watch a good movie, exercise, enjoy your friends. Healthy spirituality includes rhythms in life of play, pray and obey.

But as you play, don’t leave out pray and obey. Don’t let God’s grace in your life be in vain. Lay hold of that for which God has laid hold of you. He has a plan for you, he has a destiny for you… don’t lost sight of it and don’t lose hope for it. It is from God and therefore it is worth fighting for!

It is written of Jesus, “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.” Some things are to be endured faithfully so we can rejoice fiercely!

 

November 14, 2014
by Floyd
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The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You – Part Two

At a very young age, seeking to recruit a friend to join him in China, Robert Morrison wrote these words,

“I wish I could persuade you to accompany me. Take into account the 350 million souls in China who have not the means of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior…”

The year was 1806. At this time, except for the purpose of trade, foreigners were forbidden entrance into China. Every foreigner, on landing, was strictly interrogated as to what his business might be. If he did not have a reasonable answer to give, he was sent back on the next sailing vessel. Morrison was aware of the dangers but was still willing to go in faith, believing Jesus would open a door for him to stay in China.

Reading about the life of Robert Morrison, I am reminded of the fierce focus of Paul the apostle:

“I consider my life worth nothing to me…if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me” (Acts 20:24)

At about the same time these words were spoken to the Ephesian elders, Paul also wrote to his young disciple Timothy and said,

“…the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8).

Paul lived with the expectation that there was a reward awaiting him. He pictured Jesus awarding him on “that day.” It was the vision of Jesus in the future that kept him going in the present. It was the pure picture of pleasing Jesus that ensured the fruit of his labors would follow him.

I too, look forward to that day, don’t you? Can you picture it in your minds eye?

Take a moment and imagine it… you are kneeling before Jesus. As you are bowed in worship, He gently reaches out to you, puts His hand under your chin and lifts your gaze to look into His eyes, He astonishes you by placing a crown on your head. It is the reward given to the faithful who have stayed focused on Jesus.

In response, you take off the crown Jesus gave you and cast it at His feet, acknowledging that your greatest reward is the reward He receives from those who are gathered to worship Him. It is the fruit of your labors on earth that will follow you into heaven.

It is this vision of the future that sustains us in the present.

November 12, 2014
by Floyd
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The Fruit of Your Labors Will Follow You – Part One

RobertMorrison

Robert Morrison’s Tombstone

My wife, Sally, and I visited the cemetery in Macau, China, where Robert Morrison and his first wife, Mary, are buried. Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China. He lived 52 short years and died in Canton in 1834.

During his twenty-five years of work as a missionary he translated the whole Bible into the Chinese language and baptized ten Chinese believers. Today there are an estimated 180 million Chinese followers of Jesus Christ – amazing fruit for a man who only baptized 10 converts in his lifetime.

Robert Morrison focused on Jesus his whole life. Just Jesus. During the 27 years he served in China he kept his focus on Jesus. He went home on furlough only once in all those years.

When Robert Morrison was asked, shortly after his arrival in China, if he expected to have any spiritual impact on the Chinese… his answer was:  “No sir, but I expect God will!”

He did what he did for Jesus. He knew there was no other cause worthy of the sacrifices he was to make – and he made some big ones.

Part of the inscription on his tombstone reads,  “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…that they may rest from their labors and their works shall follow them.”

Robert Morrison’s works followed him – 180 million people in China are following him to heaven. It all began with him going to China as an act of devotion to Jesus.

Suppose it was your tombstone in that cemetery in Macau. How would you want it to be inscribed?

I have often pictured myself watching my own funeral service, wondering what I would like people to say about me after I am gone. Sometimes I even write my own epitaph. This is not morbid preoccupation with myself, as strange as it sounds, but rather a way to stay focused on what is most important to live for while I’m still here. It is my way of finding focus in the midst of many competing passions.

We were created to live for something greater than ourselves, and only in Jesus will we find that “something.”  Only by focusing on Jesus will our works follow us to heaven.

Take time now… choose a few phrases you want spoken about you when your family and friends gather to celebrate your life.  Write them down. Reflect on them. Now, with this fresh focus, go back into the race of life and give your heart to that which you want to follow you when you die.

November 3, 2014
by floyd
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Contentment Does Not Mean Happiness

This is an excerpt from a letter by my wife Sally who is going through chemotherapy – some profound thoughts about contentment:

“…A friend of mine is going through a hard time. She asked if I had any thoughts to share about contentment……so it got me thinking. The Bible exhorts us to be content in whatever situation we’re in. (Philippians 4:11) I asked myself what that meant for me right now……am I “content” with cancer? Can we as believers be content about something so awful?

I realized I can be content without being happy about the cancer!! Contentment has to do with peace. I have felt completely surrounded with peace from the Lord in these months that I’ve been battling cancer……right from the first moment the doctor told me I had a large tumor. The Bible talks about the peace “that passes understanding” that can only come from God. It’s not a human emotion, feeling, experience…..it’s a gift and blessing from Him. I know no one could be happy about having cancer, but I’m at peace. I am content but praying for healing. Contentment is a spiritual weapon right up there with faith.

The pain, injustices, and hardships of life are only for a little while. Perfect health, fairness, and lack of difficulties will be ours to enjoy in heaven forever. God has my times and seasons on this earth in His control. Contentment in my situation is a spiritual weapon against the enemy and any of his plans. I’m not happy I have cancer, but, thanks to God’s help, I think I am content in Christ. I’m grateful for that. It’s definitely a gift from Him.

October 27, 2014
by Floyd
2 Comments

Helping People Respond to a Fallen Leader

It is shattering for people to put their trust in a leader and then discover that leader has betrayed their trust. When a leader sins, not only is their life and the lives of their family devastated, but the lives of those who follow them are also deeply impacted.

Below are a few things to keep in mind when helping a church or ministry to recover after the fall of their leader.

• It is important for people to forgive as often as they think about the leader. Lead them in praying for this person. Encourage them to speak out their forgiveness. Speak it out in prayer. Gently guide them so that cynicism and mistrust may not be allowed to find a hiding place in their hearts. Remember, they have been sinned against. They need time to work through the emotions of what has happened to them.

• Help people to recognize the difference between forgiveness and restoration. Even if the leader has repented, there is a necessary season of restoration for them to go through. The greater the sin the longer the period of restoration will be. The character weakness that led to the sin needs to be repaired and made right. If the sin was hidden over a long period of time and was not voluntarily disclosed, the greater the consequences.

• God is more jealous and concerned about the fallen leader’s character than anything that he/she has done for the Kingdom. God will sacrifice a person’s public ministry to regain right relationship with them.

• God will allow His own reputation to be hurt for the sake of bringing a leader to repentance. God will endure being mocked from outsiders in order to bring loving correction to our lives. How does He do that? He will expose a leaders sin publicly if that’s what it takes in order to restore them.

• “Anointing”, “fruit” or effectiveness in ministry does not equal God’s stamp of approval on any man or woman. God has allowed many a leader to experience His blessing while striving at the same time to bring the person to a place of repentance. Why does God allow that to happen? Because of His mercy. Because biblical truth will bear fruit even when the one speaking the truth may be living in sin. Eventually, a man’s sins will find him out and he will reap what he has sown.

• There are many ways people grieve the loss of a leader. When a leader falls, people go through the normal stages of grief: denial (shock), anger, bargaining, blame and acceptance of what happened. Each stage of grief is valid and we need to make room for people to grieve in their own way while helping them through the process.

• Followers are not responsible for their leader’s sin. Some people will blame themselves. Guide them away from that response. Their responsibility is their reaction to their leader’s sin. It may take some time for them to come to a place of Godly forgiveness and then acceptance that the church may need to move on without their former leader.

• Allow the church family to be a safe place for people to express their emotions, including anger, forgiveness, blame, etc. Some people may react for a period of time by closing down their hearts completely, or just giving lip service to the right action. Guide people to a place of forgiveness and healing and then on to restoration of the church. Counsel them about the importance of choosing to fear God so they can see how sin impacts God’s heart most of all.

• Establish a restoration team for the fallen leader. Give them clear guidelines as to how the restoration should take place and to whom they are accountable. Decide if the leader should be restored to their role within the church or to go elsewhere for restoration.

• Provide regular pastoral oversight and care for the church in the weeks and months after events have taken place. The church also needs a “restoration team” of godly leaders. Sometimes it is beneficial to have people from outside the congregation, help them to a place of complete restoration.

October 24, 2014
by Floyd
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Catalyzing a Movement of Leaders

The best leaders are the ones that reproduce themselves. They don’t just have a succession plan, they create an atmosphere of multiplication many times over.

These are the leaders that make themselves dispensable. The men and women who function out of a deep level of personal security. They strive not only to do a great job themselves, but they love to see others excel as well.

Because they enjoy seeing others succeed people want to be around them. This type of leader selflessly helps others acquire skills needed for the work, thus freeing themselves to move on to other projects.

Over the years, I have worked hard at being a leader who catalyzes a movement of leaders. Along the way though, I have hit some personal roadblocks to being that type of leader. In that process I have identified seven qualities that I believe are essential to being that ‘multiplication’ leader.

Here they are… easy to write about but it has taken a lifetime to live them out:

  1. Identify your identity. Decide, do you want to be the “main man,” or do you want to be the one who raises up and empowers others? How you see yourself is what you will reproduce.
  1. Start with the end in sight. Is the main goal just getting the job done, or is it reproducing more leaders, who can also get the job done, in the process? The end goal will determine the path you take to achieve it.
  1. Decide if you want a big movement or a big meeting. In the church world it’s a choice between big meetings or a big movement. In the corporate world you need to decide, will you build vertical or horizontal? If your dream is to build a big corporation (church, organization, company) the drive to accomplish your dream will send a message to other leaders that they must “fit-in” or move on.
  1. Lead by not leading. Multiplication leaders figure out how to lead from behind. They are willing to take the risk of letting go of the reins in order to empower others. They can live with and function in chaos and uncertainty in order to create momentum.
  1. Dream big but build small. A movement that attracts lots of leaders needs a big dream. Visionary leaders are not attracted to small vision. How you build the big vision needs to be in small increments… small groups, small endeavors, small obedience’s. Some of those “small” things you build will grow and even out-strip what you do… that is a compliment to you!
  1. Look for opportunities for others, not yourself. Leaders of leaders are not focused on themselves, but on others. They are constantly on the lookout for potential leaders. They see beyond weakness to potential. They are positive by nature. They are optimists about people.
  1. Invest in people not buildings. We need buildings to get the job done but every far reaching movement must decide which takes priority:  people or property?