C. T. Studd, “Only One Life”

image 9 - C T Studd.jpgIn my message this past weekend at Eastbrook, “The Hunger to Leave a Legacy,” I reflected on the life of C. T. Studd, a famous 19th century Cambridge cricket player turned missionary. After becoming a follower of Jesus, Studd left England to serve as a missionary in China, under the oversight of Hudson Taylor. After a decade in China, Studd went on to serve in India for seven years and 20 years in sub-Saharan Africa, beginning in the Belgian Congo.

When asked about his passion for mission, Studd offered a memorable response, which has inspired many missionaries since his time:

Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.

A poem he wrote, entitled “Only One Life,” holds two lines which summarize Studd’s legacy and are a good model for us as believers today:

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last

I’ve included the entire poem below.

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Pastor, Know Your Context

When I was a graduate student, I took a missions class called “Contextualization” as an elective. The class was essentially intended to equip missionaries for understanding the cross-cultural context, or setting, in which they were going to do mission work so that they could share the message of Christ in culturally astute ways. We discussed ethical issues like bribery, relational issues like polygamy, and theological issues like worship styles that fit the heart language of a people group.

Unfortunately, the mission principle of contextualization – doing ministry in culturally astute ways – is often relegated to clearly “missionary” or cross-cultural settings. But when we do ministry as pastors within United State, we often ignore the fact that we need to contextualize our ministry just as much in a setting that seems familiar.

We take for granted, for instance, that we actually know our setting. “After all,” we think to ourselves, “I’m an American doing ministry in America! What is there to understand?”I would like to contend, however, that we do not always understand our context as much as we think we do.

Here are six questions worth pondering for those of us who do ministry in the United States. While national history and trends must be considered, we must be aware of the specific state and local history and trends for our context. If you know the answers to these questions for your setting, kudos to you! If not, it is time for you to dig deeper in order to know your setting.

  1. What is the rough chronology or time-line of your city, town, or county? When and how was it founded and when and how did it expand?
  2. What ethnic groups make up your context and how did they come to be there over time? What are the cultural distinctives of those ethnic groups, and how are those distinctives continuing to impact your setting?
  3. What are the driving economic forces of your setting and how have those changed over time? How did national issues, such as the Great Depression or World War II, affect your setting economically?
  4. What have been the defining conflicts over time in your setting? Put another way, what governmental, ethnic, or economic issues have raised tension levels at different times?
  5. What has the religious climate been within your setting over the course of its history? What have been the ebbs and flows of church life, and how has the flow of cultural issues over time affected that positively or negatively?
  6. What would you see as the key 3-5 issues in your setting that the church must address in some way, whether directly or indirectly, in order to minister in culturally astute ways in the next 25 years?

A superficial familiarity with our setting may hinder us from truly knowing it and, thus, keep us from an effective ministry for the kingdom where God has placed us. We must dig deep to know our setting.

Next Steps After MissionsFest 2018

Multiply Series GFX_16x9 TitleIn response to our MissionsFest focused on multiplication with messages from me and Dr. Paul ‘Bobby’ Gupta, I mentioned four words that I think are helpful for us in applying what we have learned this past week.

  • Befriending: Become friends with those around us, inviting them into our lives and homes that they might come to know Christ. Also, become friends with our international partners and workers that they might have friends here at Eastbrook.
  • Praying: If it is true that God knows us closer than anyone else, then the most direct way to another person is through God in prayer. Even if we cannot go around the world, we can join in with God’s global work through prayer.
  • Giving: Eastbrook has a strong history of generosity toward local and global mission, and I want to encourage us to continue moving forward with that. However, let me stretch it just a bit further. What would it look like for us to sacrifice something of our lives here – a weekly latte, upgrading our broadband, buying  a new smartphone – so that we could give those funds toward the work in China, the Horn of Africa, or the Middle East?
  • Witnessing: As I talked about in my message this past weekend, we are called to be witnesses, but it is essential that we open our mouths to share with those we encounter about the grace and truth of God accessible to us in Jesus Christ. The arms of God are open wide, waiting to bring all humanity within His embrace, but He will not force Himself upon anyone. Let us be those who witness to God’s embrace by talking with others about Jesus.

Also, our mission team put together a list of next steps as a response, which I have slightly edited for online readership below.

  • Read a Book! Want to know how you can be involved in multiplying? We recommend you start with The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life by Dustin Willis and Kirby Heyborne. To hear how God is multiplying around the world in difficult contexts, we suggest Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus by Jerry Trousdale. Both available through Amazon digitally or in paperback.
  • Pray for Eastbrook’s global workers. Over the next month, use the prayer insert to pray for our international field workers. Pray for God to use each member of His Church to multiply disciples locally and globally.
  • Grow. Stop by the booth in the lobby to learn more about our upcoming class “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” which starts in January as well as upcoming Trinity Evangelical Divinity School classes. Visit www.perspectives.org or www.eastbrook.org/teds
  • Get Involved. It starts at your own dinner table. Invite a friend, neighbor, or co-worker over for dinner and watch God use relationships to multiply His Church! If you want to take the next step in connecting with what God is doing globally, join us for our Mission Engagement Class during second hour on Sundays.
  • Step Out. Did God stir something in your heart during this week and you feel you may be called to personally go to multiply disciples around the world or here at home? Don’t let that feeling fade. Connect with Pastor Dan or Pastor JC to explore where God is leading you.
  • Thanksgiving.  November 22nd is coming.  Invite an international student to your home to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Questions? Just ask! Sign up at the Missions Fest ministry booth in the Lobby this weekend or contact Laura.
  • Support. Eastbrook’s Missions Budget financially for 12 months and help fuel the ministry of multiplying around the world. Visit the Eastbrook website for more information on how you can financially support the Missions Budget. eastbrook.org/giving

Multiply: The ‘Factors’ of the ‘Product’ [MissionsFest 2018, week 2]

This weekend at Eastbrook Church I concluded our annual missions festival, Multiply: MissionsFest 2018, with my weekend message: “Multiply: The ‘Factors’ of the ‘Product.'” Our theme comes from the words of the prophet Habakkuk:

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

Last weekend, October 13/14, Dr. Paul R. (Bobby) Gupta of Hindustan Bible Institute (HBI) in Chennai, India, began the missions festival with a strong message on multiplication.

My message connected Habakkuk 2:14 with Acts 1:8, taking the metaphor of mathematical multiplication to ask: what factors are necessary for the product of the knowledge of God’s glory filling the earth?

You can view the message video below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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Multiply: MissionsFest 2018

This weekend at Eastbrook Church we begin our annual missions festival Multiply: MissionsFest 2018. Our theme comes from the words of the prophet Habakkuk:

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

Let me invite you to join us in our weekend services and mid-week gatherings. There is a lot going on but here are the highlights:

October 13/14, weekend worship services – Dr. Paul R. (Bobby) Gupta of Hindustan Bible Institute (HBI) in Chennai, India.

October 16, 7-8:30 PM – “The Call: A Time to Praise and Intercede” – This evening of MissionsFest will take the place of our 2nd Tuesdays Worship/Prayer service for the month of October and will be an evening of hearing of God’s work in our world and asking Him to work in the Church. Join us for a time of worship, prayer, and listening.

October 17, 7-8:30 PM – “The Experience: Multiply In Your Neighborhood” – This family friendly, interactive evening that takes us through the journey of making disciples in our own neighborhoods. Join our mission leaders, field workers and guest speaker Dr. Gupta as we explore God’s plan for reaching the nations.

October 20/21, weekend worship services – We will finish out the missions festival with some of our international guests in worship services, and I will preach the closing message.

Access the full schedule via our web-site here.

The Prayer Meeting that Lasted 100 Years

I came across this article while working on some message preparation and background study on prayer. Thanks to the author, Leslie K. Tarr, for writing this powerful illustration of the link between prayer and mission.

Herrnhut &  Zinzendorf.jpg

FACT: The Moravian Community of Herrnhut in Saxony, in 1727, commenced a round-the-clock “prayer watch” that continued nonstop for over a hundred years.

FACT: By 1791, 65 years after commencement of that prayer vigil, the small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth.

Could it be that there is some relationship between those two facts? Is fervent intercession a basic component in world evangelization? The answer to both questions is surely an unqualified “yes.”

That heroic eighteenth-century evangelization thrust of the Moravians has not received the attention it deserves. But even less heralded than their missionary exploits is that hundred-year prayer meeting that sustained the fires of evangelism.

During its first five years of existence the Herrnhut settlement showed few signs of spiritual power. By the beginning of 1727 the community of about three hundred people was wracked by dissension and bickering. An unlikely site for revival!

Zinzendorf and others, however, covenanted to prayer and labor for revival. On May 12 revival came. Christians were aglow with new life and power, dissension vanished and unbelievers were converted.

Looking back to that day and the four glorious months that followed, Zinzendorf later recalled: “The whole place represented truly a visible habitation of God among men.”

A spirit of prayer was immediately evident in the fellowship and continued throughout that “golden summer of 1727,” as the Moravians came to designate the period. On August 27 of that year twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer.

Some others enlisted in the “hourly intercession.”

“For over a hundred years the members of the Moravian Church all shared in the ‘hourly intercession.’ At home and abroad, on land and sea, this prayer watch ascended unceasingly to the Lord,” stated historian A. J. Lewis.

The Memorial Days of the Renewed Church of the Brethren, published in 1822, ninety-five years after the decision to initiate the prayer watch, quaintly describes the move in one sentence: “The thought struck some brethren and sisters that it might be well to set apart certain hours for the purpose of prayer, at which seasons all might be reminded of its excellency and be induced by the promises annexed to fervent, persevering prayer to pour out their hearts before the Lord.”

The journal further cites Old Testament typology as warrant for the prayer watch: “The sacred fire was never permitted to go out on the altar (Leviticus 6:13); so in a congregation is a temple of the living God, wherein he has his altar and fire, the intercession of his saints should incessantly rise up to him.”

That prayer watch was instituted by a community of believers whose average age was probably about thirty. Zinzendorf himself was twenty-seven.

The prayer vigil by Zinzendorf and the Moravian community sensitized them to attempt the unheard-of mission to reach others for Christ. Six months after the beginning of the prayer watch the count suggested to his fellow Moravians the challenge of a bold evangelism aimed at the West Indies, Greenland, Turkey and Lapland. Some were skeptical, but Zinzendorf persisted. Twenty-six Moravians stepped forward the next day to volunteer for world missions wherever the Lord led.

The exploits that followed are surely to be numbered among the high moments of Christian history. Nothing daunted Zinzendorf or his fellow heralds of Jesus Christ—prison, shipwreck, persecution, ridicule, plague, abject poverty, threats of death. Church historians look to the eighteenth century and marvel at the Great Awakening in England and America, which swept hundreds of thousands into God’s Kingdom. John Wesley figured largely in that mighty movement and much attention has centered on him. It is not possible that we have overlooked the place, which that round-the clock prayer watch had in reaching Wesley and, through him and his associates, in altering the course of history?

One wonders what would flow from a commitment on the part of twentieth century Christians to institute a “prayer watch” for world evangelization, specifically to reach those, in Zinzendorf’s words, “for whom no one cared.”

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I Am Filled with God’s Power

In our current series at Eastbrook Church, “Who Am I?“, we are exploring biblical answers to questions about our identity as human beings. This past weekend I concluded the series by looking at how the Holy Spirit anchors our identity in God, connects us to a broader family, and sends us out with a new sense of mission.

You can view the message video and an expanded sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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