Monthly Archives: October 2009

Take the 1-4-10 Challenge

Yesterday at United Evangelical Free Church in Seattle, we focused on the subject of International Outreach. I preached on “Why should I care about outreach?” from 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2. In that passage, Paul describes the task of ministry and what our motivation should be for carrying it out.

Our task: As Christ’s ambassadors, we persuade, implore, and urge others to believe the good news of the gospel.

Our motivation: Because Christ loved us enough to die for us, we want share this vital, urgent message with as many as we can.

I closed the message by asking the congregation to take the “1-4-10 Challenge.” Pray for 1 Person, 4 Requests, 10 Weeks.

1 Person – Rather than pray for all the non-Christians an individual might be acquainted with, I suggested each person pick one person who needs Christ that they would pray for.

4 Requests – I suggested they pray 4 requests, each of which comes out of 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2.

God, please help me:

  • appreciate the cost of my salvation. Paul said that he was controlled by Christ’s love for him (5:14). If we had a better understanding and appreciation of what Jesus paid for our salvation, we would be more motivated to share the gospel, not out of a sense of duty, but out of love for Christ.
  • see the person as you do. Paul said that he no longer judged people according to outward appearance (5:16). Instead, he looked at people in terms of their spiritual needs.
  • believe that you can change them. Too often, we don’t share the gospel because we assume, “They will never change.” The good news of the gospel is that God changes people (5:17).
  • share the message of salvation with them. God has appointed us as Christ’s ambassadors (5:20) and given us the task of sharing the message of hope with the world.

10 Weeks – From now until January 1 is 10 weeks.

I made commitment cards available and asked people to take two cards. They would fill out and keep one card as a reminder of who/what they were praying for. The second card would be filled out and returned to me so that I could pray along with them for that person. In addition, I said I would mail the card back to them in 30 days as a way of them holding themselves accountable to their commitment.

Later on that afternoon, I realized that all of the prayer requests were asking God to change me as opposed to changing the person who needs Christ. Then again, isn’t that where evangelism starts? I need to care about outreach enough to step outside of my comfort zone and share what God has done for me.

In January, we can hopefully look back and rejoice at what God has done.

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Posted by on October 26, 2009 in Evangelism, Prayer, Preaching, Scripture


Are you a “sink Christian” or a “faucet Christian”?

“Sink Christians . . . view salvation as something to soak up. It fills the sink and they soak in the benefits (heaven, peace, Jesus, etc.). Faucet Christians see salvation as something that comes to them in order to flow out through them to the rest of the world as a blessing to others, as a pipe carries water from its source to a parched land.”

Tullian Tchividjian, in Unfasionable

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Posted by on October 23, 2009 in Books, Quotes


Advice to grow on

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Posted by on October 22, 2009 in Personal growth, Quotes


God’s handiwork on display

Fall foilage + rain + dark clouds = unique beauty. Doesn’t God do good work?

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Posted by on October 21, 2009 in Photos, Sammamish, Trees, WA


Answering the “Why?” question

I had a professor in grad school who would often say, “Until you answer the why question, the price is always too high.” I came across another quote on the subject that I want to add to my collection. It explains how the answer to the why question can motivate one to action.

In an article in USAToday entitled, “Commander’s letter tackles morale in Afghanistan,” author Gregg Zoroya describes a letter written by Col. David Haight, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team to the 3,500 men and women after two of them were killed in combat and his chaplains reported that many were disillusioned about the war. The article includes the following quote:

“From the individual’s foxhole, it is probably often difficult to see the bigger picture,” wrote Haight, who provided a copy of the letter to USA TODAY.

Haight wrote that “some (soldiers) may ask why” efforts to clear valleys of insurgents or keep roads open are “so important (or) really worth it. … I am here to solemnly testify that it is all important.”

In an interview after sending out the letter, Haight said that some of the public debate may have reached soldiers in the ranks.

“I can tell a soldier to do anything, and he may or may not in his mind question why,” Haight said. “But if you explain the why very, very clearly, he will not only accomplish the mission, but he will do the mission to a much higher standard.”

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the war in Afghanistan, what impressed me was a leader’s willingness to clearly answer the “Why?” question. When a person clearly understands why, they will “not only accomplish the mission, but he will do the mission to a much higher standard.”

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Posted by on October 20, 2009 in Leadership, News stories, Quotes


Songs with substance

All hymns and worship songs are not created equal. Some feed the soul and nurture one’s faith. Others are fun to sing but leave one feeling empty. Some provide food for thought and strengthen one’s confidence in God. Others are feel good songs with no depth, or at best, a rather thin theology.

Over the past few weeks, I have paid more attention to what we sing in church. I want our church family to be drawn into God’s presence and to worship him in spirit and in truth. I want them to be fed and strengthened. To my chagrin, I’ve discovered that not all of our worship songs accomplish that goal. Some of the songs we have sung recently reminded me of eating a candy bar. It is sweet, tasty, and enjoyable at the time. But it fills me with empty calories and takes away my appetite for healthier fare.

Yesterday, we sang one of my favorite hymns, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise.” As you can see in the first verse, it is a song that is rich in theology.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

I was recently introduced to another song that is equally rich in its theology. “Jesus Messiah” by Chris Tomlin is a much more recent song, but is packed with nuggets about who Jesus Christ is.

He became sin
Who knew no sin
That we might become His Righteousness
He humbled himself and carried the cross

Love so amazing
Love so amazing

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

In contrast to these songs is the praise song, “Meet with me.” While it expresses wonderful sentiment about worshipping God, it never actually says that directly. Nowhere in the song is God identified by name. It only refers to him as “you.” It struck me that if a non-Christian wandered into the worship service, they would not know who we were singing to. In that respect, the lyrics could be sung to any number of supposed deities.

When it comes to worship, we need to worship with all of our being–mind, heart, emotions, and will. We need to keep in mind the words of Jesus as well as the pattern of the apostle Paul. Jesus said that God is looking for people who will worship him in spirit and in truth.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24, ESV)

Paul said that he would sing praise with both his mind and his heart.

“What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” (1 Corinthians 14:15, ESV)

May God help us be more discerning about what we fill our minds with and what we offer to him in worship.

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Posted by on October 19, 2009 in Music, Worship


Where are you going?

I just finished reading Andy Stanley’s book, The principle of the path: How to get from where you are to where you want to be. The thesis of the book is that one’s direction determines one’s destination. It is not a matter of having good intentions and desires. It is a matter of what direction you are going in. A key part of the equation is what we allow to capture our attention. As the author states, “What gets our attention determines our direction and, ultimately, our destination. Or if you prefer the short version: attention determines direction.”

This would be a great book to give a high school or college graduate, a newly married couple, or a person beginning an internship. It would provide insight and guidance to help them determine where they want to end up, which in turn would help guide them in choosing the right path.

As all of Andy Stanley’s books, this one is very funny, practical, biblical, and easy to read. While it can be easily read in one evening, it provides food for thought that you will chew on for days to come.

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Posted by on October 18, 2009 in Books, Personal growth