Missions

From Work to Witness to Wandering to Worship

Yesterday, was a wonderful day. Along with getting my day to day tasks done, I had an abundance of opportunities to share my faith with others: at least six heard the message of the Honor of Jesus in some seed like fashion in not-too-long conversations while going from place to place. It was a refreshing day when I got a nice brisk walk in with a friend as well as the chance to reach out to a bunch of folk and talk briefly with a couple of older acquaintances.

Then the Sabbath came, I did a little reading on the Sabbath, in fact I finished the book by Rich Robinson on the Sabbath that was published by Moody Press. Supper was a scrumptious meal prepared by my wife, I learned that there was a flood in the basement which will need to be dealt with, and then off to bed after a little further reading, mainly on Aaron.

As I dozed, I eventually came to a vivid dream in which I was on a plan which was going somewhere and then suddenly had been rerouted to Arabia, namely Mecca. Only the flight was not just during any time, but during the Hajj. Suddenly I was in the midst of a large number of Hajjis going to and from Mecca and as they passed me, I could feel the jabs of their looks and even more the jabs of knives as they sought to physically attack me for violating their space. Though I had not intended to land in Mecca at all, it was just the plane landed there. Then I woke up. After a brief, but intense, prayer calling out to Jesus and interceding for Muslims, I returned to bed.

Again, I entered REM sleep a few times, then I found myself wandering and calling folks and ended up in a place near my home in a small Methodist church and a Christian pastor was making announcements and the church was praying for missionaries. The church was obviously alert to the reality of the Spirit and the call to make disciples of all nations. I offered the pastor an opportunity to play a DVD that I have that includes a worship song by Robin Mark (Revive Us from Revival in Belfast). When the DVD was played, the music was played, the words were different and more pastoral in nature, but more intense … suddenly everyone in the church was doing a choreographed worship song honoring the Lord who is sovereign over all creation. I was caught up in intercession and then joined in the worship and was refreshed.

My mind turned to the great need for more laborers who will make Christ known among the nations, here and abroad as I awoke. Are you one of those? Are you one of those who desires to see gardens in the desert? Are you one who will cultivate the spiritual soil of the earth until the barren places bloom again?

If you would like to receive a copy of the DVD with the song that was in my heart at the end of the final dream last night, please leave a comment with an address where you would like the NTSC DVD sent. I will mail you by US post the DVD and information about how you can pray for the heart of the Muslim world as you pray for the deserts to bloom again.

And you can start by today praying for those who are in war zones in Libya, Syria, and Yemen and the refugees of those countries. But also, join that prayer by singing a favorite worship song.

If you would like to help with the costs of this ministry, you can contribute by clicking on this link: http://joytotheworldfoundation.org/index.php?option=com_crowdfunding&view=details&id=1117-if4es&catid=8-operating-projects&Itemid=105

(Bonus … the link also includes the video Revive Us by Robin Mark that I talked about. Enjoy!)

Categories: Islam, Missions, Prayer, Testimony | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lord is my Inheritance.

There is a whole category of people who are called to Christ and have a passion for the nations & for the weak & marginal and have sought to go with a variety of service groups and who are repeatedly told no, don’t go, be quiet, just settle down young man.

The reality is that if I were to go to my field of focus, I would probably die in short order because I would of my zeal or I would be disregarded as a lunatic because I would lose all my sleep because the medicines that help me relax & sleep sometimes would be unavailable.

Instead I pray.

I dare say that often my prayer lacks impact that I am aware of. I tend to pick certain countries & prayer goals and remember them as reminded, so I make lists.

Is this unfocussed? No, usually the only times I have observed the impact are when I stop praying and problems happen.

In retrospect, I have however seen the Lord start movements in various peoples that I prayed for and the timing was impossibly too neat to correlate due to chance. God uses our prayers for movements. Over and over, I find that God works far more in my absence than in my presence. He is a big God, and he wants us to pray Big, foundation laying prayers.

If the leaves of the tree in the Revelation of Jesus given to John are for the healing of the nations, then we must plead for that salve to be applied for the salvation of the souls of societies.

Praying requires a whole different category of action, it elevates us to the heavenlies, for we read the divine counsel in the Word and render judgments according to Psalms 2:8: the Son will have the inheritance that is His! HE shall possess the earth. HE is waiting for us to ask. He knows exactly what He plans to do and He is always on the right side of history.

Politicians will fail us.
Disasters are unpredictable.
The devil is dangerous.
The nations are too large for us to reach them in our own power.

But every time we kneel in prayer and cry out for help, God hears and acts. Every time we stand on His promises, the Lord proves His faithfulness. Every time we sit in His presence and ask for the nations, the Lord God sends forth His angel armies to intervene. Every time we fall flat on our faces and humble ourselves before the King of the Universe, the Lord God Almighty rejoices over us with singing and stands in the gaps that we cannot fill.

We cannot fill the gaps for we are sinners,
I am the worst
But He is perfect
We fail. He is faultless.
The Lord will succeed in every intervention He begins.

Our actions, our giving, our prayers, our sacrifices all must flow from our lives guided by the Word of God for them to be effective.
This is why years in prayer are often needed to accomplish what may take a season of actual service.
Then, when the doors close behind us after our work is finished, then the Lord Spirit goes to work most earnestly, with greater freedom than we could ever have.
This is the story of China.
This is the story of Iran.
This is the story of all who are bathed in prayer,
This is the story of all who are bathed in the Spirit.

This is why statistics lie about the future.
Statistics are based on what man sees.
Faith is about what God has promised.
Hope is the certainty that God will keep His promises.
Love is behaving according to this confidence that God is love.

Categories: Missions, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silence Leads to Violence

The complacency of fools will destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32b)
One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Proverbs 18:9)

We are all limited in our knowledge, to some degree or another. We are all also limited in our service to the Lord, in one way or another, either due lack of ability or lack of faithful effort. Anyone who fails to serve is subject to destruction. Jeremiah knew this full well:
A curse on anyone who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!
A curse on anyone who keeps their sword from bloodshed! (Jeremiah 48:10)

The reasons there are wars & rumors of wars at this time is because of the shortage of those doing the Lord’s preferred work of blessing the nations. If we do not bless, we will be accursed. If we do not build up the Kingdom of God among the nations, we will have to tear down the kingdoms of man called nations.

Ezekiel (3:16-21), who prophesied about the same time, received a message from God that made what Jeremiah prophesied clearer:

At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.

“Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

In other words, if a person does not share the wisdom that God has given them with those who are ignorant, the wise man must execute judgment. Silence leads to violence.

In what was likely one of the first portions of the New Testament that was written down and distributed, Paul wrote in Galatians: As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (1:9) Later on in the book, Paul expanded later in the book of Galatians how we are to identify with Jesus’ ostracism from the community of the self-righteous by setting the example: For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (2:19-20) So we see that there is a dying that must take place to identify with Jesus.

Paul went on to make it clear that:
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (3:10-14)
To follow Jesus is to believe that His death on the cross was sufficient to take all the curses that you deserve, so that through the Messiah Who was crushed, you might be lifted up with Him Who is exalted over every other name and so receive the Spirit of God through the promise you trust. We who receive this promised spirit then are able to bless the nations.

Back to an idea in Proverbs about character: Who are we? Paul says, “We are fools for Christ …” (1 Corinthians 4:10a) To be fools for someone means you will do some things that seem foolish because of your attachment to that person. This may seem like a bad idea, but the alternative to being zealously in love with the Lord is not a good one. Paul includes in the conclusion to his letter to the Corinthians, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!” (16:22) Whoa! Either we love the Lord or we love the world. There is no middle ground. The world may seem good and full of goods, but God is the Truly Good.

Yet our love for the Lord should lead to a love for the lost that says, “Better I die & go to hell, than that many people would die & go to hell.” Again, Paul testifies in Romans 9:2-4a “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” As he was about to go to Jerusalem and then on to Rome itself, he said, “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:23-24) The only reason we live on planet earth after we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior & acknowledge Him as Lord is to make known the Kingdom of Heaven known on earth. God is patient with us so that we might make known His salvation known through our whole life.

Lest we think of this as merely exemplary living, Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with a meditation on his future on earth:
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. (1:20-26)

The point of his life is not himself, but Christ who lives in Him. Christ has become our hope of glory. Let us glory not in being right in ourselves or right with the world. Rather, let us boast of the Righteous One who has come to our defense.

Do you lack any joy? Stop looking for joy in special seasons or special saints or special gifts or special sources of happiness. Let all your springs be in the Lord Jesus. Take offense at no humbug this season. Let not death quench your happiness, but let all things lead you closer and closer to Jesus. Let Him be the Word of God to you. Let Him be the Open Door that is set before you. Let Him be your Bread of Life. Let Him be your Resurrection & your Life. Have you lost your way from the path of peace? Look to Him as the Prince of Peace and pledge allegiance to Him alone. Follow Jesus as the Way. Believe in Him as the Truth. Love Him as the Life. He will bring you to the Father from whom all family derives its name and your spirit will mingle with the Very Spirit of God this Christmas.

Let us go out and tell our families, our friends, our neighbors, and yes, even our enemies what the Lord has done for us not only at Christmas, but also on the cross. The devil also needs to hear more about the saving victory of the Lord Jesus Christ who is risen and coming quickly. Marana tha!

Categories: Evangelism, Holiday, Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disappointed, but Hopeful

Imagine going to a tomb to mourn your Beloved Leader, you go, and the body is gone. Disappointment.
You wanted to honor doing the final rites. Then HE’s GONE!!
You had dreamed that he would bring peace to the land. You had dreamed that he would help you not only cope with life, but be truly free. Then he was killed, or rather executed as a criminal. Rejected.

Now you are dejected. Every remnant is gone. His life is a mere memory … soon to be forgotten.

You are so desparate for help that you turn to the first ordinary person you meet, though you were sure that your friend was extraordinary and was indeed the best. You ask questions, you ask for help.

He calls your name. Your Extraordinary Friend meets you in the most ordinary way in a garden on the first day of the week … you recognize His Voice: He’s alive!!

You are disappointed no longer, but hopeful.

That is something of what I have felt in life at times: God disappointed my petty expectations only to exceed them by surprising me with news of something better. What was bad news becomes good news when the Sovereign surprises me.

I dreamed of being a missionary. I became a mere mentor to missionaries.
I dreamed of having a beautiful wife and a lot of kids. I married an excellent wife and have lots of people I care for.
I dreamed of being a leader. I serve leaders.
I dreamed of traveling the world. I ride an urban bus system, talk to people from the nations and pray for the world.
I dreamed of being wise. I rarely seem to use the education I have and my library is relinquished to the basement. I give away more copies of The Books than I read.
I dreamed of a comfortable home. My house is in the middle of a remodel that is taking longer than expected.

I wanted to see my Dad reach his 75th birthday. On Resurrection Day, I had to take him to the hospital to get a battery of tests for his heart.

Right when we were singing about the victory of Jesus over death, I realized that my Dad might die sooner than desired. What would happen next?

I was disappointed, but as the days have passed and as I realized that my Dad probably just was a bit anxious, I found hope and celebrated in a store by buying a lily & gift for someone that acted like a disciple on the sabbath after the crucifixion: mourning and depressed. Dispirited, as one translation puts it.

While I went to the Sunrise Service this year, the real resurrection celebration happened in a most ordinary way: sharing a little kindness with a stranger who was discouraged.

I am a missionary of hope.

Have you seen Jesus? Have you heard of His resurrection? Have you perceived the Love of God?

Look up.
Look ahead.
Look around.

Jesus will return, so we must gently & faithfully make disciples of all nations, everywhere.
Expect to meet Jesus in the midst of your most disappointing moments. When you lose your direction in life, start looking for those who are truly lost. Share the promises of God and let Him find you as you are finding help for the hurting.

Are you wounded? Heal someone. You will feel better.
Are you tattered and torn? Mend someone else’s heart. You will be more complete.
Are you weary? Stay alert in prayer for the broken. God will answer you when you call.
Is the world mocking at you? Rejoice in your affliction. The world mocked at Jesus; you are honored in heaven.
Do you feel dirty? Wash the feet of the wise. You will come clean in the process.

It is not about looking after your own interests that your needs will be met.
It truly is in giving that you receive.

Recently, I offered to give a partner in ministry 5 DVDs. He said just 3. After I delivered what I promised, God blessed me with 3 more DVDs of the same kind from another friend.

Amazing? Grace. Surprising? Mercy. Blessed? Indeed.

Where are you disappointed?
Don’t give up, and you will meet the Anointed.

Categories: Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Give & It Will be Given.

Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV)

This past weekend it snowed. Over New Year’s, it also snowed. The accumulation at present is over a foot, deeper in the drifts. Now, I have received it and if anyone is wanting to enjoy snow and you miss it, you are welcome to come to one of these Northern realms affected by the climate change.

However, to my knowledge, the snow did not come in answer to the sharing of snow with others. It is not like God blessed my generosity of sharing my snow with others with more snow.

However, I did observe a kind of giving like this occur over the past week. New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day, I shoveled several other people’s sidewalks. They cleared up and I got some good exercise. Later, someone else pitched in and helped me by clearing out my sidewalk a little bit … not once, but twice … one of those times on a day when the snow was particularly heavy they cleared a path.

Some people think that this verse is all about money. Others insist it is all about karma. Both are wrong. There is something about people who fear God to some degree: they will return favors and often be more generous in the return gift than the original gift. God oversees the hearts of people so that sometimes even hard-hearted souls will give generously in return when they receive a gift.

Again, that giving may not be tit-for-tat. It may be that Person A will shovel a walk and Person B will bring cookies. This giving was seen after the generosity of Americans to Southeast Asian natural disasters. Americans gave a LOT of money to help. The Southeast Asians helped generously, though the amount was not the same, when Katrina struck New Orleans. Actually, proportionally, the people from SE Asia probably gave more generously. The Good News of Jesus was at work in both instances. God brings generosity not according to what one does not have, but according to what one does have.

The Church & Mission’s appropriation of the tithes and offerings for local churches operates on a similar basis: Some give the Good News to the congregation, the church supports them. Some give their lives to reach lost people among the nations around them. The church supports these missionaries as their representatives.

I count it a privilege to have received gifts to pass on to others, such as the gift of $20 one lady gave me. I had given a few New Testaments to a ministry she was involved in, and she helped so much more. Now the bus tokens purchased with her money are going to those who happen not to have bus fare when they get on the bus … and with the tokens is a token of truth: A booklet, a gospel of John, etc.

So the gifts keep flowing, Because I am generous? No, because God is generous!

Categories: Environmental Healing, Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weakly Gathering

There are really only two times in the week when you need to gather:

1. When you believe you are really sick and need help.
2. When you want to help someone else.

Matthew 18:20

The more you want to help, the more you need help, the more you gather.

Gathering is an opportunity for growth. Growth comes not only by frequency, but also by increasing size and multiplication of gatherings.

Some focus on depth of growth alone. Interesting subject matter. Profound truth. Rigorous workouts.

Others focus on size alone: expansive invitations, bigger meeting places.

More wise is using these first two as a means to multiplication and bringing all of life under good order.

This progressive growth of frequency, depth, size, number, and impact of the family of God gathering is what is intended by the advance of the Kingdom of God.

What will you do today to grow the family of God?

Categories: church, Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keys to Building the Kingdom of God

Also known as saturation church planting or disciple-making movements:

1. Saturate our mind with biblical truth.
2. Saturate our hearts with praise.
3. Saturate our souls with prayer.
4. Saturate our lives with faith.
5. Saturate our time with hope.
6. Saturate our homes with love.
7. Saturate our plans with unity.
8. Saturate our towns with the Holy Spirit.

Then, we will see the seed of the gospel planted
and churches begin to saturate society, here, and everywhere

Categories: Missions | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alphabet of People for Prayer in Washtenaw

Here are some of the people

Sing of the nations to the Lord and sing to the Lord before the nations.

Sing of the nations to the Lord and sing to the Lord before the nations.

Here are some of the people that Mert has reached out to in Washtenaw County in Jesus’ Name and who need prayer full grace & salvation

Next time you sing through the Alphabet Song, remember these:

American Indians & Arabs & Asians.
Blacks & businessmen & beggars & the brethren.
Criminals & college professors.
Developmentally challenged & doctors.
English as a Second Language Students & engineers.
French speakers & foreign scholars.
Gay men & government workers & Gentiles.
Hispanic immigrants & the homeless.
Indonesians & Indians & intellectuals from Asia.
Jews & jokesters & judgmental hypocrites.
Koreans & kids with their parents.
Lost souls & lesbians & liberals.
Maninka & Muslims & Mormons & Mandaeans.
New residents & newly married.
Ordinary folks & over-achievers.
Portugese & Pakistani & Pharmaceutical reps.
Quiet leaders & quick salesmen.
Responsive believers and rebellious teens.
Sikhs & Somali & sinners and saints
Teachers & tradesmen & tender-hearted listeners.
Undergraduate students & unrepentant people.
Vain self-seekers and virtuous sisters in Christ.
Watchtwower Society members & witches.
X-ray technician & eX-addicts.
Young Christians & yesterdays’ leaders.
Zanily clothed and zealouts for Jesus.

Now I’ve shared my life with thee, won’t you pray along with me?

Categories: Evangelism, Missions | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bible Translation Day

Today is Bible Translation Day with Wycliffe Bible Translators
http://www.wycliffe.org/About/OurHistory/CameronTownsend/BibleTranslationDay.aspx

This video details the current status of translations around the world.

Historically, whenever the Bible is made available in a new langauge, it motivates educational transformation. Regular reading and application of the Bible has also renewed love in marriages, restored health to bodies broken by bad habits (both mental and addictions), ended civil conflicts, and changed economies as people became increasingly productive and stopped busybodying about everybody else. But most importantly, the Bible communicates the way in which we can be restored to God.

God has revealed His plan for humanity. The Bible opens with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth …” and closes with, “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with the saints. Amen.” This is my favorite Scripture, the section between and including those two blessings.

I am thankful today, that I not only am alive, but I have Bibles in several languages to tell me why and portable on my phone to remind me regularly. I am thankful for those languages that are getting the Bible into them even as I write. I am thankful for God’s promise to complete the work He started. I am thankful that His promises never fail. I am thankful that I have enough access to the original languages and critical editions of the Bible to know that the Bible is trustworthy and reliable transmitted down through the generations to today. God’s Word has not failed.

We have failed often to obey God’s Word, but God will accomplish His Word and His Work in our lives. The Law & the Prophets prepared for it. The cross & resurrection of Jesus guaranteed it. The Apostles proclaimed it. More and more, the nations are believing it. Do you believe? What are you thankful for? Have you read the Bible lately? What encouragement did you receive from the Bible lately?

I have been encouraged that Jesus ate with taxcollectors and sinners. This means that God loves government agents and anti-government forces alike. He loves you. He loves you so much He has been thinking about you all day long. He is hoping you will take up His love letter soon. Read. Relax. Relate.

Yes, this is the call of God’s word. In relation to God and others, it is a simple message: Learn. Let go. Love. God Himself will hold you close if you will reach out to him. …

Categories: Holiday, Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sing to the Lord a New Song

“If every promise in the book is mine, then I want this one,” I thought as I read in the Apocalypse the description of 144,000 male virgins who have not defiled themselves with women and followed him everywhere and didn’t lie, etc. These were the only ones who could learn to sing the new song. (Revelation 14:1-5)

“Wow!” I thought, “I want to learn that new song.” I wondered exactly where in the Bible I could find that new song or if it was something that would be revealed supernaturally through a vision. I didn’t take out commentaries on Revelation which offer explanations ranging as divergent as the churches which read the Bible. I began to pray and seek the Lord for wisdom or grace or power or whatever it would take to sing the new song. I knew it would be good, and I wanted the ability to sing this new song which seemed hidden from me.

Problem: I am far from musical. In high school, I learned how to play the French horn but didn’t practice much. The only thing I really took from that training is that I am always on the wrong beat when I clap.

While this passage in Revelation gave no indication that musical talent was a prerequisite, it seemed pretty important. At first, only the words to poetry came. I kept them in good rhyme and good rhythm, but I was had no music. You have no song if you have no music but just lyrics. I scored an F flat on the chart of getting a new song on the radio, so I tried to forget about it.

But it wouldn’t go away, because every so often, I learned a new song that somebody else had written in contemporary music. I would sing along with the new song until I learned it and then added it to my memory banks. The college worship events I participated in were often attended by zealous souls who want to encounter God to the fullest. Music is part of that, and new songs seemed to be a regular occurrence. I even met a man who learned to play the guitar and write music even though he was middle-aged.

I gained no more skill in music, though I had been in a college choir that toured Sinaloa, Mexico to encourage the church and evangelize using English, translated, and Latino Christian lyrics and bells to share the message. My particular gift was to present the Christus Hymn in Spanish (from Filepensus 2:1-11, NVI) in a dramatic interpretation before the crowds.

Around that time, I went to the hospital with the first onset of a chronic illness. I had to do some rethinking: What can I do and what can I not do? What is real and what is not? What does Revelation really mean?

Once I returned to college, I learned more new songs. Once again, I wanted to sing a new song. In my senior year, I did an independent study on worship in the Old Testament, New Testament, and early church. But that produced no new music, though I did write a few new poems. After all, how does one write hymns based on an index of references to worship practices in the extant early church fathers? Not too inspiring, to say the least.

I was preparing for graduation in my senior year and dreading leaving my friends. Then in March of 1997, a tornado struck the town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas where I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies. I volunteered to help sort and distribute food and clothes sent to the church I participated in near the epicenter of the disaster which also served as the hub for the relief effort.

I started to wear down. School, health, and tornado-related matters all converged to form a storm front in my mind. One day, as I was walking home from church, I began to hum-sing a few lines based on Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto Me, all who are weary / Come unto Me, all who need rest / Come unto Me, all who are tired / all who long for righteousness.”

I sang that a few times, each time with more confidence. Then I started a new stanza, as I thought about the fact I still had work to do, “Take up the cross, if you will follow / Take up the cross, if you know Christ / Take up the cross, if you love Jesus / for he paid the final price.”

After learning the new stanza, and repeating it with the first a few times, I was really excited and knew that the final line about the “final price” could not be the final line any longer. Reinvigorated, I headed towards my dorm room, “Tell the Good News to all your family / Tell the Good News to all your friends / Tell the Good News to all your neighbors / Ev’ry place the Spirit sends.”

Recently, friend wrote out this Gospel Song. Click Here to view a PDF score of the lyrics & melody.

God had done some amazing things in saving some people from the tornado and moving people to send and distribute supplies. He had done amazing work in strengthening me and would do amazing work in helping me complete my studies. And he had taught me a new song.

Later, while studying at Notre Dame, I led a Bible study on singing a “new song” and learned that all related passages have to do with salvation and, in context, at least half of them relate to God’s redeeming work among the nations*. (Psalm 33:3, 10; 40:3; *96:1; *98:1-2; 144:9-11; 149:1, 7; *Isaiah 42:10; *Revelation 5:9; *14:3-6) As Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology records, “One could say that there is one new song but this song has many stanzas. All of God’s redeemed will add stanzas to that song throughout eternity as they praise him progressively and continually for his mercy, love, and grace …”+

As I became involved more in missions mobilization, I realized that this just made sense: Each culture requires worship music in that culture’s language if it is to sing the praises of God most effectively. These musics change over time. When revival comes, new songs are written to speak to the new generation. Some songs are better than others, some are meant to persist. When those revivals take root and transform, missionaries go out to other cultures, carrying the Good News to new places. … And so the pattern continues to the present day.

This pattern has become such an art and a science that there are ethnodoxologists who specialize in advancing this work. The International Council of Ethnodoxologists has a site designed to help interested people find resources and training:
http://www.worldofworship.org/

One new song illustrates how this can work. As I was driving down the road one autumn day, I saw some African-American youth who were gathered around a car talking. I was happy and began rapping, “Break it down to the lowest level. Bring ’em up to the highest level. Jesus came to the lowest level. Jesus rose to the highest level. Hip, hop. Don’t stop. Get the Word to the world!” After learning the new rap, I went back and presented it to the kids. We talked. They affirmed the Gospel.

A couple years later, I was invited for a series of youth meetings at a church in a poverty-ridden African American neighborhood. I pulled out that song and rapped for the gathering. They loved it. They had their own rap. Afterwards, the youth figured out their own rhythm for the rap. God was at work.

Every now and then, I still sing new songs, either written by me or by others. Why? God continues to work. Are all of them of equal value or quality or of the same genre? No. Will any of my songs be sung 100 years from now? I would be surprised. Though I don’t get these songs from an audible voice, I do know of someone who heard the choirs of angels sing more than 10 years ago. My songs typically just come from Scripture or experience.

I have learned through many dangers, toils and snares how to sing the new song: Listen for the voice of the Lord and pour out your heart before Him. Though I may not hear them, I sing with the angels.

(You have full permission to sing the New Song, so long as you don’t seek to profit from others efforts without sharing with them. Contact me if you have any questions.)
mertaka@everybody.org
734-883-1831
PO Box 981215, Ypsilanti, MI 48198-1215

+ Elwell, Walter A. “Entry for ‘New Song'”. “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology”. 1897.

Categories: Missions, Revival | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.