Hudson Taylor: Into the Heart of the Dragon –Full Movie

An intimate portrait of the influential missionary’s life and legacy.

A striking docudrama filmed on location in China and the UK. James Hudson Taylor was one of the most influential missionaries of the nineteenth century. Founder of China Inland Mission, he spent a total of 51 years spreading the gospel in China. Taylor was unique in his time; he adopted the dress and customs of the Chinese people, showing great respect for their culture, and his organization was strictly non-denominational. Generations of Christian evangelists have followed in his footsteps.

Sometimes You Just Need to Shake the Dust Off Your Feet and Move On

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I had a gentleman call the church asking to “talk about the Bible.” He asked a question that let me know he was from the Watchtower Society–the Jehovah’s Witnesses (no, I won’t link to them). He asked me a question that’s common coming from this cult: “How can you say that Jesus is eternal if He died?” When I tried to develop my thoughts to answer this question, he kept interrupting. When it was clear there was no conversation to be had, only an argument, I told him that we were not going to agree and that I would end the conversation. His response? “Why are you running away?”

Friends, there will be conversations where someone will call or engage you that does not want to really hear your side but simply wants to win. Don’t allow your pride to keep you engaging in that regard. Matthew 7:6 says, ““Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Some will not receive the gospel message. So, you plant the seed and move on.

Now, this gentleman got elevated. That’s how I knew it was time to move on. This is not about wins and losses. It’s about planting gospel seeds, praying the soil is ready.

Oh, how would I have answered him? Well, it seems that from their own Scriptures the deity of Christ is on display. You can read about it here.

God Keeps His Word–That’s Just His Way: Devotional for January 17, 2022

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Today’s Bible reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 28-29, Mark 11

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:16).

Jacob spoke these words prior to his arrival at Laban’s home. His mother sent him to her brother’s in order to protect him from his brother Esau’s wrath. Jacob secured the birthright. Esau foolishly gave away his blessing for some stew, showing that his immediate hunger for one meal meant more to him than the blessing God gave to him in his lifetime.

Esau also lost the blessing of Abraham through some sneaky maneuvering, giving him the role of progenitor (a role that belonged by birth to the oldest son–in this case, Esau). As a result of this second indignity, Esau was ready to kill his brother. But this was not the first time they would war. This began in the womb. Rebekah asked God why there was such aggressive behavior with her twins en utero.

And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you[a] shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
    the older shall serve the younger.”

Genesis 25:23, The Old Testament

So, when Jacob heard from the Lord prior to his arrival to Haran and Laban’s home, God reinforced to Jacob the covenant He made to Abraham (Genesis 28:10). He called that place where he encountered the Lord Bethel. After this, Jacob made a beautiful vow:

“If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

Genesis 28:20-22

God was with Him. His covenant stayed true. And with Jesus Christ, our True and Living Way that instituted the covenant, we can rest assured that God will stay true to His Word with us as well.

That’s always been His way!

New Sermon Series on the Gospel of Mark Starting Sunday

This coming Sunday, our church will begin going through the Gospel of Mark. The question is, “Why Mark?”

First of all, pastors pray long and hard for what to cover next in the worship gathering. I try to pivot between Old Testament and New Testament, as well as pivoting between genres (gospels to psalms to epistles, etc.).

But why Mark? For established churches like the one I’m blessed to undershepherd, going through the gospels brings us back to the basics, back to the foundation of the One on whom His church is built–Jesus Christ. Seeing how Jesus preached, what it meant to follow Him, how He interacted with the disenfranchished, and how He interacted with the religious legalists. Jesus came on a mission that was focused on the message found in Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.”

How Jesus preached. With authority. In the synagogues. With parables. With clarity (to the disciples). In a boat. In the country. In the cities.

Jesus is the Son of God. Both the Father and the demons (along with a Roman soldier) affirmed Jesus as the Son of God.

Mark is a gospel that is on the move. Notice how many times the word “immediately” is used.

Jesus always had an eye on the leaders as well as “least of these.” While many religious leaders struggled with Jesus, others sought Him out for help, great and small.

And much more.

Join us as we look at the beauty of the Gospel of Mark.

Resolutions for Our Churches in 2022

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Yes, it’s that time of year. Resolutions. The years 2020 and 2021 had their share of difficulties. In order for us as Christians to navigate what promises to be another difficult year, we need to have our spiritual affairs in order so we can approach whatever comes in a way that honors God and exalts Christ.

So, here you go!

  1. Read your Bible daily. That’s right–daily! Find you a Bible reading plan that gets you in the Scriptures every day. The Five Day Bible Reading puts you in the Scriptures every weekday with a weekend margin to catch up. 
  2. Confess and repent of sin daily. God calls us to walk in holiness, and to do so means taking sin seriously. 
  3. Come to church weekly. COVID accelerated church-attending habits of some. Church attendance is decreasing in the United States because Christians/church members are not attending as frequently. For the sake of our personal walk, our churches, and our nation, this must change. There is a reason why the Spirit commands us to attend worship with our brothers and sisters. Here’s another article on the subject.
  4. Encourage someone weekly. Through notes, phone calls, coffee, or some other way–find someone and encourage them. I recently preached on “Being a Ferocious Encourager” should you like to go more in-depth.
  5. Find a small group. Studying the Bible by yourself is good–but studying the Bible with others is better. Most of our churches have small groups that are either Sunday School models (which we embrace gladly) or home models. As long as those models are geared about Scripture and biblical fellowship, dive in!
  6. Share your faith with someone in your sphere of influence weekly. As recipients of the Good News, we must dispense this Good News. Here’s one way to share it.
  7. Read some good biographies. I forget who I heard this from, but they noted that biographies of great Christian leaders serve pastors and Christians better than straight leadership books with their theories. These leaders lived their lives for us to not only emulate but to serve as cautionary tales. 
  8. Exercise regularly. We must take care of our “temples” (see 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
  9. Find someone to disciple and to disciple you. We are to “go and make disciples.” We are to develop relationships that strengthen our walk as disciples and where we can strengthen others. This little article can help clarify.

My Favorite Bible Reading Plan for 2022 and How I’ll Tackle It

If you plan on reading through the Bible in 2022, I recommend the Five Day Bible Reading Plan. It goes through the Bible in a semi-chronological manner, giving you a good flow of biblical history.

I plan on using the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible–Large Print to go through the reading plan. Capturing the insights God gives in the same Bible you’re reading helps not only you but those who may read them later on (like your children or grandchildren).

Last, I did a video about the pros and cons of Bible Reading plans that will be helpful for you to consider:

What are your favorite Bible Reading plans?

A Mighty Fortress: Good Morning Devotional for 11.22.2021

Good morning! In the late 1520s, Martin Luther (1483-1546) penned a hymn that was known as the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” Pulled from Psalm 91, Luther sought to reform the church by reminding them that it was Christ and His Word that is our refuge and fortress. Read this last stanza:

That word above all earthly powers—
No thanks to them—abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also:
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is for ever.

Christ is on our side. The Spirit resides in us. Our bodies are metal; He, His Word, and His Kingdom are immortal.

Are we holding on tightly to something in this world that brings us security? That serves as a flimsy fortress. Christ is our Mighty Fortress. Run to Him, and be saved.