Friday, December 28, 2007

Missions Websites

John Piper raves about the ministry of Operation World, and for good reason. I had some time to look into their website today. Along with their valuable resources, they have a daily prayer list to highlight various prayer needs in world missions. Today's entry was about Urban Evangelism. I'll quote it here, but you please visit OW to learn more.
For the first time in history, half of the world's population lives in or near a city

Challenges for Prayer
This major shift in population from rural to urban necessitates a radical shift in thinking and strategy among churches and missions reaching out to the unreached

1 Appropriate strategies for evangelizing the major non-Christian cities of the world
2 The urban poor, the biggest single challenge
3 The decaying inner cities of the West. In the midst of affluence many cities have a rotten core.
4 Christians' preconception of missions needs to shift from a 19th Century rural, tribal image to a modern, urban one
5 The mobilization of a trained and efficient work force
6 The essential and effective use of all modern methods of communication
From Operation World Web Site (, 12/28/07. Copyright ©2001 Patrick Johnstone
OW also features nations in the news, of which Sri Lanka is featured. Seeing how we shared how Peter just visited that country in mid December, I spent some time reading up on it. The Lord is really needed there, and there is much reason for hope as the Christian church there grows, but they need our prayers. Click here to learn how to pray for Sri Lanka.

This picture features street dwellers in Mumbai, Inda

I also discovered another missions website about a ministry in Asia, Servants to Asia's Urban Poor. According to their website: "Servants to Asia's Urban Poor is an international movement: a network of Christian teams living and working amongst the urban poor in Asia's mega cities, participating with the poor to bring hope and justice through Jesus Christ." What a radical and beautiful concept! To think of Westerners giving up their comforts and wealth to live and suffer with the poor in Asia to reach the lost for Christ! They feature an interesting recent article about a family that conducted an experiment to see if they could live on $200 a month! What an eye opener!

As the Servants site points out, "The urban poor are the largest and neediest unreached people group confronting today's church. We ignore this challenge at our peril: "I was hungry... and you gave me nothing to eat" (Jesus, Matthew 25:31-46)

Please pray that the Lord would lead you to explore these resources and to be obedient to the Great Commission, by praying, giving, or going with the Good News of Christ to all people groups!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pletcher Sri Lanka Trip

Peter sent an update on God's work in their mission trip to beautiful Sri Lanka mid December. I'll share that here along with pics he sent. The entire Pletcher family joined the group from their church (a total of 16 adults and 6 children). While in Sri Lanka they spent time in Colombo with a missionary pastor who took them to Kandy, a devout Buddhist city, and then up into the tea country. Everywhere they went, they were well received by the locals and had the opportunity to share the gospel through tracts and passing out Bibles. Their pastors also had the opportunity to speak at several different special services that were held while we were visiting. Here is Peter's email. Thanks to the Pletchers for sharing the testimony and pictures!

"We had a great time and experienced a very open and for the most part welcoming people. We arrived on Wednesday into Colombo for our pastors to speak (Brother Crocker and Brother Moore) to the Tamil service and also to the Sinhala/English service at Colombo Bible Baptist Church where Brother Unruh pastors (these services go on simultaneously at different locations on the Church property). The next morning we left at 8 a.m. and traveled to the city of Kandy which took about five hours. In the city center, we divided up and spent a couple hours passing out tracts. Kandy has a significant Buddhist temple which attracts devout Buddhist from all over the world, as such, the city of Kandy has a strong Buddhist following. We had some who would not accept the tracts or would ask why we are trying to spread Christianity into such a strong Buddhist area but for the most part people gladly accepted the tract and would begin to read (tracts were written in Sinhala). Prior to handing out the tracts, I had asked what the literal translation was on the front cover. We were surprised to find that many of the people could speak a fair amount of English, so when we were asked by a young man who was with his group of friends "Do you even know what this says?" I pointed to the Sinhala on the front cover and acted like I was reading/translating into English. They were all surprised and we enjoyed a laugh.

"We continued up into the Mountain area to a small town of Nuwara Eliya and stayed at the St. Andrews Hotel. This town is about one mile high in elevation so our bus had a lot of climbing to do as we began our day in Colombo which is at sea level on the West coast of Sri Lanka. The cooler 14C (57F) temperature was also welcomed as it never gets this cool when at sea level near the equator. Sri Lanka's 4th largest export is tea and is grown up in the mountain area. It is amazing to see how they use all the land available by terracing the steep slopes. Most of the pickers are ladies who must pick at least 16 kg (35lbs) per day to earn $2. If they pick less than 16 kg of tea their pay is docked but if they pick more, they are given a small bonus. Tracts were also put into plastic bags with small gifts inside such as small lotion or shampoo bottles, pens, etc. Along the drive up, the tea pickers or village people would be along the side of the road for which a packet was thrown out the window. The tea pickers would quickly collect the packet .... this is not a method which can be used in Singapore as you would be fined for littering but was very much welcomed in Sri Lanka.

"On Friday, we went into Kotagala, a tea plantation village, where one of the local pastor's sent out by Colombo Bible Baptist Church has an out reach ministry. The children had already gathered for the Neighborhood Bible Club. Our group helped lead in teaching them some Bible songs and told them the Gospel story (Brother Shanker, the local pastor gave the translation). Afterwards, the children were then taught a game which was played with great enthusiasm. For most of these children, it was their first time to hear that Jesus loved them. After the children's meeting, preparations were made for the evening evangelistic meeting at the other end of the soccer field. A Gospel film was shown and pastor Crocker gave a short message and invitation afterwards. Fifty-nine people came forward to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ! Bro Shanker conducts a Church in a tent which is attached to the back of his house located in Kotagala and will be following up on these decisions. We understand that our group is the first to go into this tea village with such an outreach and we pray that the impact and seeds sown will grow for many more to hear and receive the gospel. Our church had also collected clothing back in Singapore and we left the boxes with Brother Shanker to be used as an outreach ministry to the village people.

"After a long day of travel back to Colombo on Saturday, we were back at Colombo Bible Baptist Church for three services on Sunday with a meal in the afternoon under the tent prepared for all those who attended. We flew out at around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning back to Singapore since I needed to work Monday morning while the rest of our Church group flew back on Tuesday morning. The Lord certainly blessed our trip and by the following Monday morning, the church had already received in the mail responses from 6 different people who had put their trust in Jesus Christ as a result of the tracts passed out. We were constantly reminded of Luke 10:2 "Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." So many people whom need the Lord and someone to give the gospel message."

By the way, the Pletchers celebrated Morgan's 1st birthday immediately after returning from this trip. Happy Birthday, Morgan!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Way to Think about Sharing the Gospel

What does a can of Coke have to do with sharing the Gospel? You’ll find out if you keep reading.

Sometimes I write blogs about sermons I’ve listened to. This is one of those. I was recently introduced to Rick Holland's preaching. He is is the college pastor at Grace Community Church and an excellent communicator. You can find his sermons here. FYI - you can also find there some by Steve Lawson and CJ Mahaney.

The Rick Holland message is called "What you must get right to get the Gospel right." Without stealing the thunder too much, I’ll share some tidbits, his four S’s to summarize the Gospel, and finally explain the pop can story.


  • Regarding the Lordship: In the book of Acts, which chronicles the founding of the Church, Jesus is referred to as Lord 92 times, and as Savior only twice!
  • Works are a response to a salvation given, not a way to get salvation. They’re the caboose not the engine. (Eph 2:10) The fruit and not the root. (1 John 2:3) If you’re a Christian, you’ll live like it!
  • On the tension between the sovereignty of God in election and the responsibility of sinners: No one ever went to Heaven by their own choice. And no one ever goes to hell because of God’s choice.

Summary of the Gospel
gave four S’s to help summarize the Gospel so you can share with people the Lord puts in your path!

  • Sovereignty. He is Lord, the Creator God. He’s Holy, the only true and unique Living God. He alone is the Sovereign of the Universe. Sovereignty means King. “If you don’t start there the other pieces of the puzzle don’t fit”, explains Holland. He mentioned Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes, “Remember your Creator (Eccl 12:1)”
  • Sin (the problem). The origin of sin comes from Adam and Eve. We are born sinners, and then we sin. We’re not born innocent and become sinners after we sin. We’re born sinners. We have personal culpability before God because of our sin. “In the words of my brilliant theologian son," says Holland, “we are in trouble with God because of our sin.” Because of our sin we deserve to be damned to Hell and punished by God. Because of our unrighteousness and His righteousness and His righteous standard.
  • Substitution. Once this is established, the Good News can be joyfully proclaimed! God sent His Son to substitute and take the punishment in our place, instead of us, to give us His righteousness. The facts of the cross (1 Cor 15:1-4) come into play here and were fleshed out in the first sermon in this two part series.
  • Submission. Because God is sovereign and has rescued us from our sin by substituting His Son for us, He requires, demands, and we have the privilege of, submitting to Him. A faith that believes and a faith that works. “You lose your life as a Christian, but you find His in you. It is much better!” Holland didn’t quote Jim Elliot, but I will: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Pop Can Story

Holland told a great story about a guy who approached those waiting in line to get into Magic Mountain. He had a box of empty Coke cans that had a coupon for a $10 discount to the park printed on them. He would just go up to people and say, “Hey you want $10 off? I can get you $10 off with this coke can!” Holland said, “Ok. Do you want anything in return?” The answer: “No, I just want to help you get $10 off.” Holland later thought, “This guy’s a little weird. But he’s nice. He gave me a $10 coupon and was delighted enough to go to everyone in that line and give it to ‘em. I have eternal life that’s been given to me. That is a gift that we can offer to others. Have you ever been as giddy as that guy in the line over giving the Gospel (Good News) to someone?

I’ll close by addressing my two audiences. Everyone falls into two groups:

  1. Those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord: Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me (Matthew 28:18)." The fact that you ignore this fact does not make it go away the same way someone on drugs can't make the law of gravity go away if they jump from a building thinking they can fly. Have you dealt with your sin problem (a problem we all have according to Romans 6:23) by believing on the Lord Jesus as your substitute? Have you submitted your life to Him, repenting (turning your back on) your sin and putting your trust in Him as the only way to be reconciled to God? You can do so today! Don’t wait!
  2. Those who love Christ and treasure Him as Lord: Are you sharing the Gospel? Are you as giddy as that guy was giving out the pop cans? You have eternal life, don’t keep it tucked up inside of you! You might look silly, in fact Jesus said if they hated Him they would hate us (John 15:18)! But to those who will come to know Christ, you are the bearer of the most important gift that was ever given!
Merry Christmas to all!

"Oh, magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together!" (Psalm 34:3)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jesus life was the greatest life ever lived

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

-Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

Our pastor in the evening service Sunday preached from Philippians 2, the great passage that speaks of Christ's humbling Himself to take on human flesh to a) demonstrate God's love for us (Rom 5:8) and b) to pay the penalty for our sins (1 Pet 2:24)!.

The main points were:

1) Christ is our perfect example of submission
2) Christ is our perfect example of humility
3) Christ is our perfect example of sacrifice
4) Jesus is Lord!

The question for each of these points (1-3) is, if Christ were grading you in your practice of submission, what grade would you be getting? How is your submission to the Lord and to others (see v 3-4 which speak of considering others more important than yourselves)? How is your humility? Are you living sacrificially the way Christ is? How would Christ grade you?
Finally, on #4, in vv 9-11, we are reminded that Jesus is Lord!

The early Christians were often persecuted for not yielding to emporer worship. In fact, many were fed to lions or shredded by gladiators for refusing to say "Caesar is Lord!". Scripture tells us that God gave Jesus the name that is above every name! "Jesus is Lord!"

Romans 10:9 says, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

This belief includes 3 things:

  • You must believe Jesus is God (Immanuel means God with us)
  • He is in control of everything even when things seem so uncertain and out of control!
  • If you believe He is Lord, that means you're willing to submit your very life to him!

"and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Cor 5:15)"

God with Us

"If I could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: 'God with us.' We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than the baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth." - John MacArthur

Friday, December 14, 2007

Piper on the New Birth

I've been so blessed by a series of messages John Piper is giving on the new birth, or to use the theological term: "regeneration". My prayer is that you will listen to these messages on this essential topic and that God would speak to you through His word!

There are more to come, but here are the messages available so far:

You Must Be Born Again: Why This Series and Where Are We Going?

What Happens in the New Birth? Part 1

What Happens in the New Birth? Part 2

Why Do We Need to Be Born Again? Part 1

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tim Tebow

No heisman for Chase Daniel, sorry MU friends.

Glad it happened to Tim Tebow, though. A home-schooled missionary kid who lives out his faith by visiting orphanages in the Philipines run by his parents and preaches at state prisons in Florida.

Tebow made history by becoming the first freshman/sophomore to win the heisman!

Here is a story some time back by the NY Times about Tebow.

Congrats, Tim!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Random Thoughts on Tough Questions!

Ryan shared this link, a list of the most influential books in MacArthur's life. Someday I definitely want to read all these (and immortalizing the link on this blog will help) ... but only after I read ALL the Piper books I got from his $5 sale!!! Sure, I'll probably get to Truth War before I finish the Piper collection, but I'm currently reading Let the Nations Be Glad! and this quote blows me away (bold added)...
"The infinite horrors of hell are intended by God to be a vivid demonstration of the infinite value of the glory of God. The biblical assumption of the justice of hell is a clear testimony to the infiniteness of the sin of failing to glorify God. All of us have failed. All the nations have failed. Therefore, the weight of infinite guilt rests on every human head because of our failure to cherish the glory of God. The biblical vision of God, then, is that he is supremely committed, with infinite passion, to uphold and display the glory of his name. And the biblical vision of man without grace is that he suppresses this truth and by nature finds more joy in his own glory than he does in God’s. God exists to be worshiped, and man worships the work of his own hands. This twofold reality creates the critical need for missions. And the very God-centeredness of God, which creates the crisis, also creates the solution.
Here's a discussion question you are welcome to comment on. Somebody explain that! It's true, I believe it. But, wow! I had to stop reading and just stare out the window for several minutes to try to get my mind around that last sentence! I gave up.

My daughter Sophia is real smart. And I'm not. She's been asking me a lot of questions about spiritual matters of late, and quite possibly is a new believer after having repented and praying a very sincere-sounding sinner's prayer. We've been praying for Sophie but are still yet to see fruit other than the rebellious fruit we're accustomed to. Still, unregenerate or not (see Real Life Child Converts), she has been asking some great questions for a 6-year-old!

Last night was no exception: "Why was God never made?" Fifteen minutes into my rambling on and on (in pure ecstacy!) I realized she was just playing me to get to stay up late! So I put a stop to that and hugged and kissed her goodnight (again!) As I walked down the hall, she said, "I think a hand has always been. And it made God." She couldn't get her mind around God's eternality, and neither can I? But I rejoice for that! I love that God's thoughts are higher than ours and that He is infinitely holy and righteous in every way, yet has chosen to save me and restore me to fellowship with Him through the cross of Christ!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Where in the World is Peter Pletcher?

Some of you Countrysiders remember Peter Pletcher who attended nearly a decade ago (when he was still single!) The Lord put him in my brain and stirred my heart to check up on him, it had been a long time but I used to run with him and often wondered what became of him. A simple Google search led me to this page on Lincoln Electric's website which gave me Peter's email address. I emailed him, thinking I could very likely be emailing the wrong Peter Pletcher! But how many could there be?!?

Anyway, I got an email back and I've thoroughly enjoyed getting caught up and hearing what the Lord is doing in Peter's life! Here are a few quotes from his emails.

"After I left Olathe, I moved to Louisville and married a wonderful Christian woman (Jill). In 2002 we moved to Shanghai, China where I was the technical manager for Greater China for over 3 years and this is where our first daughter Haley was born in July 2004. Then the end of 2005 we relocated to Singapore where I took on the role of Country Manager Singapore and we had our second daughter Morgan born December 2006. In Sept 2007, I took on the responsibility of Global Business Segment Director -Offshore but will remain living in Singapore for at least another couple years. "

Many of you remember Peter as a runner so ... "My running has slowed drastically with family and a busy work schedule...however, I did run about 5K today. One of my running highlights in Asia was running a half marathon race on the Great Wall of China!"

Spiritual Life
"We have been very blessed with the opportunities the Lord has given us and are plugged into a good Church here in Singapore. We never dreamed traveling like we have and learning so much about different cultures. "

"We are members and involved at Heritage Baptist Church ( here in Singapore. The Lord has really blessed the ministry and we currently average over 150 people every Sunday. The website is not actively updated so it is really not a good source for the most recent information but at least it will give you a sense of the Church we are going to. (this is something our church is trying to address)"

Peter and his church is leaving tomorrow for a missions trip to a work they are supporting so please pray for them.

Did you know?
"I notice that you have Truth for Life - Allistair Begg's website listed under your favorites. As a matter of interest, I attended Parkside Church (Allistair's Church) when I was in Cleveland for nearly a year during training with Lincoln Electric back in 1995. It was after this training that I moved to Kansas City. I always enjoy listening to Allistair preach and have had opportunities to visit since as I go back to Cleveland from time to time.

Crocodile Hunters
The Pletchers took a family vacation to Australia in October. Their two-week stay took them up to Sydey and up to Queensland to see the Great Barrier Reef and the Australia Zoo, home of the Crocidile Hunter.

While in Sydney, Peter and Jill climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The 3 hour, 1400 step journey took them to the top of the bridge with the awesome view you see here.

At the Australia Zoo, Haley got to play with Robert Irwin (the late Steve Irwin's son) at the play area at the end of the day. They had a lot of fun together!

Couple more pictures. If you want more email Peter and say hello and ask for more!

We miss you Peter! God bless you and the special ministry God has for you in Asia!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How Few There Are Who Die So Hard!

This is the title of the biographical message John Piper gave on the life of Adoniram Judson at the 2003 Bethlehem Pastors Conference.

Friday I took this sermon with me for the commute (mp3 player) and as I made my way home, listening to Piper recount the suffering in Judson's life, tears filled my eyes. In fact, they nearly filled the car! I was broken over my own apathy to God's Great Commision in light of the sufferings that Judson's endured to bring the Gospel to Burma!

"... Judson went [to Burma] with his 23-year-old wife of 17 months. He was 24 years old and he worked there for 38 years until his death at age 61, with one trip home to New England after 33 years. The price he paid was immense. He was a seed that fell into the ground and died. And the fruit God gave is celebrated even in scholarly works like David Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia: "The largest Christian force in Burma is the Burma Baptist Convention, which owes its origin to the pioneering activity of the American Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson"
Read/listen/download the sermon here. (BTW, there are also many other biographical messages about C.H. Spurgeon, Calvin, Martin Luther, Johnathan Edwards.)

Back to Adoniram Judson. If after listening to the bio. message, you still haven't picked up on Piper's passion for missions (especially what he calls frontier missions), you can also read his article The Cost and Blessing of Being a Christian Missionary. Get Desiring God and read the chapter on Missions ... or even read it online for free! (As my friend Luke pointed out, it's refreshing that Piper's generosity is indicative of the fact that he's not "about the money" or "His Best Life Now".)

Sadly, not much is written on Judson. To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson is recommended. There is a children's book called Adoniram Judson - God's Man in Burma by Sharon Hambrick, which my daughter will be reading as part of her homeschool curriculum this year! Piper also mentions a book that Judson wrote on baptism.

So again, download Piper's stirring message here (and listen when you're not behind the wheel.) No need to take notes; it's all in the manuscript. As Piper says, "put your notes away and relax and soak and then get convicted and become a missionary ... that's my goal."

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike