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Imagine Your Church… 11th February, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Books, Challenges, Church, Mission.
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platt-follow-meI spent the last few days reading Follow Me by David Platt.  Towards the end of the book (p175-176) he says something that I think most churches today would find challenging and so I thought I’d share it:

“Imagine your church.

Don’t picture the building or parking lot, and don’t envision the activities and programs.  Just the people.  Whether there are fifty, one hundred, five hundred, or five thousand of them, simply imagine the people who comprise your church.

People living in a world of sin and rebellion, suffering and pain.  A world where over three billion men, women and children survive on less than two dollars a day, and a billion of those people live in absolute poverty—in remote villages and city slums where hundreds of millions are starving and dying of preventable diseases.  A world where billions of people are engrossed in false religions, and around two billion of them have never even heard the gospel.  They are all (literally billions of people) on a road that leads to an eternal hell—suffering that will never, ever, ever end.

But you and the people in your church have been transformed by the gospel of Christ.  In your minds, you know that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save people from their sins.  In your hearts, you have tasted and seem that he alone can satisfy people’s souls.  Your wills are now abandoned to his ways, and you long to be his witnesses throughout the world.  God has banded you together as brothers and sisters in a local church with a global commission:  make disciples of all nations.  God has filled every single one of you with the power of his own Spirit to enable each of you individually and all of you collectively to reach the world with the gospel.

So if you had nothing but people—no buildings, no programs, no staff, and no activities—and you were charged with spreading the gospel to the whole world, where would you begin?  Would you start by pooling together your money so that you could spend millions of dollars on a building to meet in?  Would you get the best speaker, the greatest musicians, and the most talented staff in order to organise presentations and programs that appeal to your families and you children?  Would you devote your resources to what is most comfortable, most entertaining, and most pleasing to you?

I don’t think your church would do these things—and neither would mine.  Not if we really believed God’s Word and were honestly looking at God’s world.”

To give a wee bit of context… David Platt is a mega church pastor in the States.  He’s been on an intense journey… thrust into the lead role in a mega church at a young age, pouring over the Scriptures, and trying to reconcile pastoring thousands of people with Jesus example of spending time with twelve men (and turning away thousands)!

He is in no way suggesting we throw out the baby with the bath water.  He’s simply inviting us to consider what the Word says we should be all about (making disciples of all nations) and to evaluate how effective we are being in carrying it out.

How easy it is to get our priorities in the wrong place and subtly make it about us instead of the nations!

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RESOURCE: Operation World iCal 9th February, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Books, Discipleship, Mission, Prayer.
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Operation-World-book-cover_Page_01In my last post The Radical Experiment, I said that one of the things my family is committed to doing this year it’s praying for the world.  We’re working through the book Operation World (there’s also a website) which gives information, statistics and prayer points for all the countries

Now that we live in the world of smartphones (and knowing how terribly I function when I don’t have things in my phone/laptop calendar )I decided to perform a labour of love today:

I input the Operation World Prayer Calendar into a google calendar, so that I have daily alerts and quick access to the corresponding website content.  

So, if you like to use digital calendars, and you want to join us in praying for the world, here are the links to access the calendar:

XML       iCal      HTML

And if you like the idea, but still prefer the old school hard copy, it is available to print on the website (http://www.operationworld.org/prayer-calendar).

Dry Bones Missions 6th August, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Challenges, Mission, Musings.
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There are certain passages in Scripture that speak right into the situation in Scotland (or Europe as a whole).  Ezekiel 34-37 is one of those chunks.

As I sat reading Ezekiel 37 (the Valley of Dry Bones) I couldn’t help but see God’s clear strategy for a place like Scotland where the church is but lifeless bones.

Step One:  Preach the Word!

Then he said to me, “Prophecy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’

It’s pretty simple.  It’s the way it has always been.  God’s Word has power and so our job is to declare His Word.  Boldly.  Departing from God’s Word is why Europe is dry.  Bibleless pulpits and leaders devoid of the Word is why Scottish churches have died.  The solution is clear.  Those sent to the dry bones valleys are commanded to speak His Words.  I get angry with “missionaries” that come to our country and think the solution lies outside the simplicity of the gospel.  They come with clever strategies, fancy books, flashy outreach, and “authentic community”, yet they fail to bring the very thing we need:  God’s Word.

Thankfully Ezekiel was a man who understood obedience.  When he obeyed, something amazing happened:

… “so I prophecied as I was commanded.  And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.”

Oh how I long to hear the rattling of old bones in the churches of Scotland.  I have even had the honour of seeing some of those old bones begin to rattle and take form again.  But we need more.  More people who are committed to declaring His Word.

But that wasn’t enough for God.  There was more Ezekiel had to do.  And there’s more that we need to do:

Step Two:  Call on the Spirit (Pray!)

“Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it; ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says:  Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet—a vast army”.

The Word put everything back in its rightful place, and then as His Spirit—the breath—came upon them, they came back to life and stood.  It wasn’t until His Spirit was poured out that the process was complete.

We have to be a praying people.  Prayer is the human act more closely related to the Spirit.  “Pray in the Spirit at all times” wrote Paul.  We have to pray, long and hard, that God would breathe life back into our nation.

It’s such a simple process but we work so hard at complicating things.  I get angry with those who travel across the world to bring a worldly system to the lost.  We don’t need “clever” we need the power of God.  We don’t need “new”, we need the thing God has done time and time again… His Word, carried on His breath.  If that is all that’s needed for God to create the universe… why think our idea is better.

The Word & Prayer.  It’s the killer combination.  Let’s stop trying to be cool, clever, relevant, (insert whatever other word you want), and start being obedient.  And it starts with ME!

I have spoken to many people who claim that the Word & Prayer doesn’t work.  But a few quick questions reveal that THEY are not people who are being transformed by God’s Word and THEY are not people casting themselves on God in prayer.

If God can use His Word & His Spirit to make an army out of a valley of dry bones, He can certainly use it to bring life to Scotland.

Learn from Ezekiel.  Do it God’s way not your way.

Furlough: Off to the States 10th July, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Furlough, Mission, Support, Travel.
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In a few hours we take off for Portland for our first FURLOUGH.  What a crazy few months this has been. God has been doing some amazing things in and around me which I’ll hopefully blog about later.

This will be a busy but exciting trip.  On Saturday I do my first ever wedding!  How cool.

Time for sleep.

Baptisms 16th May, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Blessings, Church, Ministry, Mission.
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The service this weekend was amazing.  Our prayer times before the service was powerful.  There was a joy and energy during the worship.  The sermon was a simple but powerful message on Christ’s baptism.  4 people were baptised in the morning service and 5 baptised in the evening service.  And the post-baptism worship was fantastic.  And someone came forward for prayer limping but left dancing (Although I fully believe in God’s power to heal… I still have no box for this!)  What a day.

God is moving.  Lives are being changed.  May His Name be praised!

It Arrived!!!! 21st October, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Challenges, CRM, Mission, Travel.
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Finally, after all the waiting and plan-changing… the visa came!  So Mon and I are both flying out on Saturday morning!  I can’t believe we only have 1 day left here, it doesn’t feel real.

I’m exhausted.  I spent the day meeting with friends and saying goodbyes… that sure ain’t fun.  I just keep reminding myself that before we know it we’ll be back to visit.

This is one of those “Whatever the cost” seasons.  God has called us… He has made the path clear… the time is now… and the cost?  The cost is leaving behind friends and family, a church that we love, our first home, and most of our commonality.  We feel our hearts being torn as we say goodbye… but we know that God’s plan is the best thing for our lives.

As Mike Tatlock reminded me… we don’t have to grieve the loss of relationships… only the loss of frequency!  I’m glad the relationships don’t have to end.  And anywayz… now we get the joy of hosting them in the better land!

Whatever God wants | Whenever He wants it | Whatever the cost!!

The Journey of Faith 25th May, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Books, Challenges, Life, Mission, Pain.
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I’m currently reading the biography of Bonnie Witherall, a woman who was martyred on Nov 21st 2002 while serving God in Lebanon.  (You can read a touching tribute to her life and ministry by clicking here).

On May 12, 2002 she wrote something in her journal that I couldn’t agree with more:

I feel I am on a journey of faith.  What… do I do when I’ve made my request to God, and the answer still has not come?  I need to keep on believing God’s Word.  I need to hold on to God’s character.  I need to treasure the fact that God is good and that He loves me more than anything in this world.  He has a plan for me.  He sees my broken heart and my tears are not in vain. (May 12, 2002)

How true these words are.  I’ve been having some really great conversations with a new friend recently, dialoguing about how God uses suffering to increase our faith.  It is in our pain, our uncertainty, our hopelessness… that we cling to God.  In the words of the apostle Paul, “who hopes for what he already has?”  It is not faith when we see it in front of us?  Our faith diminishes when everything goes our way.  But our faith truly grows when in the midst of pain and uncertainty we cling to the Truth of God’s Word and fight to hold onto His attributes.  It’s not easy.  It’s a constant wrestle.  But we couldn’t grow without it.

Thank you Bonnie for pouring out your life in the service of God and His Kingdom, giving up your life so others could have eternal life.

Thank you God for lives totally abandoned to you.

Missionary Pentalogy 11th May, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Books, Mission.
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When I moved to Portland I heard a lot about a Missionary by the name of Jim Elliot, a promising young leader, who surrendered His life to reach unreached people in Ecuador.  Jim and 4 friends (Ed McCully, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian and Pete Fleming) felt called to reach a tribe known as the Aucas which means “naked” or “killers”.  This tribe lived in fear and hatred and killed any outsider who approached them as well as anyone in their tribe or others who they disagreed with!  These 5 men were willing to die for the Aucas to know God… and that’s exactly what happened.

I have wanted to read the story for a while and so I grabbed Shadow of the Almighty, a biography of Jim Elliot, and started reading.  I didn’t really like the way the biography was written.  Using letters he had written and his journals, his wife pieced together an almost autobiographical account of the inner workings of the life of Jim Elliot.  (It’s basically an abbreviated and narrated version of The Journals of Jim Elliot was published). I was challenged by a number of the things he said and did, but overall his style of communication was a bit too “flowery” for me.  So, knowing there are many other Elliot biographies I decided to try a different one, Through Gates of Splendor.  This book, also written by Elisabeth Elliot told the whole story, following the lives of all 5 men and their wives, painting a full and moving picture of the power of a number of lives poured out to God and committed to the same cause!  It’s great!

For my birthday I was given some book vouchers and so I decided to by another few biographies.  At the bookstore I found the biography of Nate Saint, Jungle Pilot.  As you can guess from the title, he was the pilot of the operation and instrumental in the work God was doing amongst the Aucas.  I loved it.  And while it’s not my favorite biography, I’d say he’s probably my favorite missionary.  There’s something about Nate Saint that I’m really drawn to.  You should read the book!

Finally I grabbed End of the Spear by Steve Saint, Nate’s son.  A few years after the death of the five missionaries, Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister) and Elisabeth Elliot (Jim’s wife) were invited to live with the people who killed their husbands, which meant Nate grew up adopted into the tribe who killed his own dad!  This is the really moving story of how the Waodani tribe (previously known as Aucas) came to know God and give up on the life of savage killing.

It has been really fun to read the same missionary story from multiple angles.  This unintentional pentalogy gives an amazingly full picture of God at work in the lives of so many people as He works out His will.  As a result of the deaths of five men, hundreds of thousands of people have come to know God.

God, my life is yours.  May it bring glory to your name

Bible Translation Stats 28th April, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Bible, Mission.
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The following statistics are taken from the Wycliffe’s Website and give the current worldwide status of Bible translation:

6,900+ …the number of languages spoken in the world today

2,000+

…the number of languages without any of the Bible, but with a possible need of a Bible translation to begin
350,000,000+ …the number of people who speak the 2,200 languages where translation projects have not yet begun
1,300+ …the number of translation programs where Wycliffe is currently at work
nearly 75% …amount of the world’s remaining Bible translation needs that are located in the three areas of greatest need
1,185 …the number of language communities which have access to the New Testament in their heart language
451 …the number of language communities which have access to the entire Bible in the language they understand best.

It’s crazy to read elsewhere that there are 500+ English translations… which means there are more English Translations than there are languages with a Bible.

Something’s wrong with that!

Red Moon Rising 17th March, 2010

Posted by Scotty in Books, Ministry, Mission, Prayer, Worship.
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You have to read this book!  I devoured this book a couple of weeks ago and it now resides near the top of my favourite books list.

I really enjoy how the book is written.  It follows the development of the 24-7Prayer movement, a fairly organic process.  In a join-the-dots fashion, the writer pieces together a number of events spanning several countries, demonstrating in a captivating and inspiring way, the Sovereign hand of God working in and around His people to accomplish His will.  I love that at no point do the writers try to claim credit for their work.  Instead, their humility seeps through the pages as you are swept into their astonishment at the way God was obviously working in the background creating something much bigger than they had ever imagined.

The book has a lot of wonderful things to say about the sovereignty of God and the power and primacy of prayer.  There is one line that crops up a few times that struck me at the core:

“God is mobilizing an army, but it is a broken army that marches on its knees” p162

It is Simple.
The principle is simple.  A room is set apart to be a place of prayer.  People sign up to pray for 1hr slots, passing the baton of prayer from one to the next to create a continuous cycle of prayer 24-7.  It is simply about creating space for people to practice the discipline of meeting with God, because when people meet with God nothing else can satisfy them.

“When we get our heads around God’s character, prayer, devotion, and discipleship ceases to be a technique and becomes and instinct”. p14

It is Empowering.
The amazing thing about getting people back to the basics of the Word and Prayer is that they learn to encounter God on their own.  We are guilty of spoon-feeding in the church today.  It is well-known in the education world that people are more likely to remember things they discover themselves, and that we grasp what we learn better through the process of teaching it to someone else.  Red Moon Rising shows clearly the benefit of creating space for people to encounter God on their own rather than depending on someone else’s experience.  I also love the way he demonstrates the interplay between the Word and Prayer.  The two are inseperable!  The two together are powerful…

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