Saturday, April 25, 2009

A video recap of the Zambia Pastors Conference - April 20-24

Steve Allen from Zambia here... Just wanted to post a recap of our pastors conference on Stewardship this last week in Zambia. We had around 130 pastors for some or most of the week. It was a sweet time and we thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What is the Biggest Road Block for Effective Ministry Today?

Recently I was reading a new book Exploring Church History by James P. Eckman. In writing about John Calvin, he says the following:

“Because Geneva was so strategically located, Protestant refugees from all over Catholic Europe flooded into the city. They sat under Calvin’s teaching, and when they returned home, they took his theology with them. This pattern explains the remarkable spread of Calvinism throughout the Western world.

In addition to his amazing preaching and teaching schedule, Calvin also wrote prolifically. He wrote lectures, theological treatises, and commentaries on thirty-three books of the Old Testament and the entire New Testament except Revelation. As Philip Schaff has written, ‘Calvin was the founder of the modern historical-grammatical exegeses of God’s Word' (Schaff, 8:118-119). The reformer likewise carried on a massive correspondence with people all over Europe.

Calvin is often pictured as a disciplined, authoritarian fanatic. This idea is quite inaccurate. He loved life. He loved to play games and frequently visited the homes of his followers. He also spent many hours giving premarital counseling in his church. But it was his participation in the execution of Michael Servetus that contributed most to the image of Calvin as an extremist. (James P. Eckman, Exploring Church History,55).”

You will notice the last phrase in the second paragraph, “The reformer likewise carried on a massive correspondence with people all over Europe.” Here was a man who was writing commentaries, pastoring full time and counseling, He was known for discipling many, caring for the poor, leading a mission movement worldwide, and yet still had time for massive correspondence.

The lack of disciplined personal correspondence may be one of the biggest road blocks in effective ministry in the church and missions today! The majority of pastors, church leaders, mission leaders, missionaries, and executives simply will not and do not answer their personal correspondence whether it is letters, faxes, telephone calls or emails. We all receive massive amounts of general emails and newsletters. It is impossible to read all of these, but there needs to be some discipline and courtesy in responding to personal correspondence that is addressed directly to that person.

Just today I was praying about the situation of not hearing from various organizations, leaders, pastors, and missionaries to help us complete several tasks of purchasing and shipping Study Bibles overseas for ministry, to schedule a conference for needy pastors in the Philippines, answers as to how much is needed for a certain project, and no response from one of seven executives to complete a network of agencies dealing with crisis intervention for the poor and needy. I could go on and on.

Does anyone have thoughts on why there is such a lack of response to personal and important correspondence these days? It seems so strange. It is almost like God’s people have a serious blind spot or there is a ploy of Satan to hold back the effectiveness of the ministry of evangelism, discipleship, and development to the glory of God through such a simple but such an important matter such as disciplined communication. What do you think?

by Doug Nichols

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How Does the Church Grow Into Maturity?

From God’s New Society (The Message of Ephesians)
By R.W. Stott, InterVarsity Press (Pages 171-172)

How does the church grow into maturity? Paul gives his answer in Ephesians 4. It grows by truth and love. To allow ourselves to be hurled hither and thither by the fierce blasts of false teaching is to condemn ourselves and the church to perpetual immaturity (verse 14). Instead, what we need is 'the truth', provided we speak it 'in love' (verse 15). For it is 'in love' that the church grows and builds itself up (verse 16). What Paul calls for is a balanced combination of the two. 'Speaking the truth in love' is not the best rendering of his expression, for the Greek verb makes no reference to our speech. Literally, it means, ‘truthing (aletheuontes) in love', and includes the notions of ‘maintaining', ‘living' and ‘doing' the truth.

Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God's revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight. Others make the opposite mistake. They are determined at all costs to maintain and exhibit brotherly love, but in order to do so are prepared even to sacrifice the central truths of revelation.

Both these tendencies are unbalanced and unbiblical. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if is not strengthened by truth. The apostle calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself ‘the Spirit of truth', and his firstfruit is ‘love'. There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity.

From God’s New Society (The Message of Ephesians)
By R.W. Stott, InterVarsity Press (Pages 171-172)

Friday, April 10, 2009


It is this weekend that we remember and celebrate the foundation for all that we believe and all that we are in Christ. Good Friday is where we remember and celebrate that Jesus Christ went to Calvary and died a definite atonement. That on the cross He died for all that were His from before the foundation of the world. It was not that He died and hoped people would believe, that would have been careless, random and unfitting for a King. Jesus Christ gloriously atoned for every single person that the Father had given Him, and all of those will be saved, not one of them will perish. Praise God we remember and celebrate the definite atonement of the cross.

We also remember and celebrate that the grave could not hold Him. Though He truly died on the cross, He was Sunday morning alive and walked the face of this earth for over forty days, appearing to hundreds if not thousands of people. This true, historical event separates Jesus from all who would seek His seat as King. Every other religious leader died and stayed dead. Not so with Jesus, He rose from the dead defeating death and the grave, and in the process removing the sting of death for all that are His. We who follow Christ know that to live is Christ and to die is gain, and that is due to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

These are the things that we remember and celebrate this weekend. Glorious truths that are just that, true! Praise God and worship well this Lords day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Healthy Church Member Knows the Gospel

by Thabiti Anyabwile

The first order of business for a healthy church member is to know the gospel. This seems too obvious that stating it can feel silly. But, in point of fact, many professing and believing Christian possess a shallow understanding of the gospel as a result of years of hearing short “gospel presentations” tacked onto the ends of sermons. Still others who know the message of Christ find themselves feeling awkward and incapable of sharing the good news clearly with family and friends. Taking steps to be sure we know the gospel with some clarity and depth, then, is necessary.

It’s helpful to rule out some ideas frequently presented as the gospel. The gospel is not simply that (a) we are okay, (b) that God is love, (c) that Jesus wants to be our friends, or (d) that we should live right. Neither is the gospel simply that all our problems will be fixed if we follow Jesus, or that God wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. All of these ideas may be true in some sense, but only in a partial sense and never as a solely sufficient statement of what the gospel is.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is literally “good news.” As news it contains statements of fact and truths derived from those facts. As good news the gospel holds our hope based upon promises of God and grounded in the historical facts and truths that vindicate those promises.

The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ is that God the Father, who is holy and righteous in all his ways, is angry with sinners and will punish sin. Man, who disobeys the rule of God, is alienated from the love of God and is in danger of an eternal and agonizing condemnation at the hands of God. But God, who is also rich in mercy, because of his great love, sent his eternal Son born by the Virgin Mary, to die as a ransom and substitute for the sins of rebellious people. And now, through the perfect obedience of the Son of God and his willing death on the cross as payment for our sins, all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, following him as Savior and Lord, will be saved from the wrath of God to come, be declared just in his sight, have eternal life, and receive the Spirit of God as a foretaste of the glories of heaven with God himself.

It is this message – briefly stated here – that we must imbibe and delight in if we are to be healthy church members.

The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me (Psalm 16:5-6).

What is a Healthy Church Member?
by Thabiti M. Anyabwile
(pages 40-41)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What is a healthy church member?

Recently on a flight from Honduras, I was able to read most of the What Is A Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti M. Anyabwile. It is excellent!

The book is published by Crossway (

Pastor Anyabwile lists 10 marks of a healthy church member which are as follows:

1. A Healthy Church Member is an Expositional Listener
2. A Healthy Church Member is a Biblical Theologian
3. A Healthy Church Member is Gospel Saturated
4. A Healthy Church Member is Genuinely Converted
5. A Healthy Church Member is a Biblical Evangelist
6. A Healthy Church Member is a Committed Member
7. A Healthy Church Member Seeks Discipline
8. A Healthy Church Member is a Growing Disciple
9. A Healthy Church Member is a Humble Follower
10. A Healthy Church Member is a Prayer Warrior

May we strive to be all that we should be in the church for Christ’s sake.