Tuesday, May 25

Taking a break

We are taking a break from blogging for a while during our time in Texas for our son Joshua's high school graduation. Thanks for your prayers for him as he begins a new chapter in his life.

Tuesday, May 18

Three questions churches should continuously ask themselves

1. What are we doing to deliberately make disciples?

2. What are we doing to intentionally plant/reproduce new churches?

3. What are we doing missions-wise to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and ends of the earth?

While I realize there is more to being the Bride of Christ than the answer to these three questions, it is hard for me to conceive of a church calling herself a church that does not have a clear plan to make disciples of the nations. The heart of God is a missionary one that loved the world so much that He gave what was most precious to Him, Jesus, so that we might be called the 'children of God'.

While there is certainly room in the Church for more than evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and missions, if we allow these to become anything less that priority mandates, the inevitable result will be a turning inwards and the beginning of a decline resulting in eventual death of that body of believers.

My own observations about the decline occurring within the Southern Baptist Convention is directly related to the loss of this focus we have traditionally had as a denomination.

So how do we turn the decline around? For starters, try honestly answering the above three questions!

Thursday, May 13

Stop Planting Churches! (and other great tips for church planters)

I am a long-time reader of Steve Addison's blog "Movements That Change the World." Recently he shared lessons taught by Tim Scheuer...
Be up front about Jesus. There are many more people out there than we realize who are ready for someone to tell them about Jesus.

Keep moving. Most of the evangelism Jesus did was harvest evangelism. He went into town looking for responsive people who became a beachhead for the gospel. Paul did the same.

Stop planting churches. Start making disciples. Then help those disciples to form churches in their world.

Cast vision early for simple neighborhood churches.

Stop trying to reach one person at a time. Look for the person of peace and then through them reach networks of relationships.

Don’t focus on “mature” Christians. The newest believers are excited about knowing Jesus. They don’t know that they shouldn’t be sharing their joy with everyone they meet.

Begin with the end in mind. What is it going to take to give every person in Airds the opportunity to respond to Jesus and follow him together?

If you’ve got this far and now you’re saying to yourself, “That nice but door-knocking won’t work in my context.” I have a question:

What will you do in your context to find the .1% or 5% or 55% of people who ready now to respond to Jesus and follow him?

They are out there. Like the woman at the well (John 4), and Cornelius (Acts 10), they will become the first of many.
As a missionary church planting catalyst, I find these to be excellent lessons, and agree whole heartedly with each. We are better at some of these than others. Which resonate with your experience?

Monday, May 10

Do they really understand our message?


"Esteban" is a good friend and fellow IMB missionary serving in South America. He has written the following in a prayer letter that caught my attention.
...Jesus gives us divine insight...when he says in Matthew 13:23b “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it.” Jesus also says in Matthew 13:9 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. Really and truly UNDERSTANDING the Word of God is essential and absolutely necessary for those who will finish the race and for those who will bear and yield fruit.
Many times I have scratched my head trying to figure out why a church plant fails, why things start to crumble, or where people get their crazy ideas! Could it be that it is as elemental as their simply not understanding the word? Does the evil one really snatch away that good word which has been sown simply because they have not understood it? Wow, that is something to think about!

We assume people are understanding just because we have said the right words and they have smiled and nodded their heads. What has taken us a lifetime to understand and grasp, we expect those we are sharing the Gospel to instantly comprehend. Is it really a surprise when they don't?

The reality in many cases is something quite different than we intended. I have seen this over and over again. People tend to hear what they think you are saying, not necesarrily what you are saying.

Another aspect of this is our tendency to believe people need lots of information before they can really "get it." Often, little of what I am trying to communicate is getting across. All my words are filtered through their own world view, experiences, prejudices, upbringing, etc. How nice it would be if there were a way to get inside someone's brain and see what is really being understood!

Our message is also suspect in that our listeners often question or are confused by our motivations. Why are they here? Why are they telling me this? What do they really want out of me? What's in it for me if I accept their message?

Anyway, I think I'll go back and meditate a bit more on Matthew 13. A key missiological feature is the need for people to clearly understand the Gospel message. It is our responsibility to communicate that message clearly.

Friday, May 7

MUSE-PrayerNewsletter, May 2010

Dear friends, family, and prayer partners,

Greetings from the Muses in Ecuador!

We have stayed busy since January of this year training four different groups of church planters. The fruit from these efforts is slowly beginning to show as the "70" who have been in training have reported 50 new house churches planted.

I wish you could hear some of their amazing stories. Last week, Martha, shared with me that she never dreamed God would use her as He has the past few weeks. Martha is a poor woman who cannot read, but has a big heart for the lost. Twice a week she has between 20-25 who meet in the patio area of a house. Nearly all have accepted Jesus, and are being discipled by her and two other women who come over to help.

Starting 50 churches in four months has not been all fun and games. The Enemy has been in full swing trying to discourage, distract, and divide the new works. I wrote a bit about some of the challenges faced by those emerging church plants in my blog post Church Planting is Messy. Thank you for your prayers for these saints as they continue to persevere, often in the face of tremendous personal suffering and persecution. For those who are a bit more interested in the process we use for training, check out another recent blog post entitled CPM.

In February my brother-in-law Edwin and I were invited to the Galapagos Islands to train a small group of believers there so that they could have their own church. We baptized the first believers and these in turn were left as the leaders of the new church start. They have already doubled in size since we were there in February! Photos of the trip (and side trips!) can be seen here.

Linda has begun teaching English to young prospective Ecuadorian youth looking to serve the Lord as cross-cultural missionaries. This is a new and exciting day as God is calling out the youth of Ecuador to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

May 15, Linda, Anna and myself will be flying up to Texas for our son Joshua's high school graduation. He has been living with my mom and dad in Seguin, TX since last Fall. We are very proud of him and looking forward to this 3-week visit with him and the family there in Texas.

Prayer requests:

1) continued love for the people of Ecuador
2) beseech the Lord of the Harvest for laborers
3) safety and health
4) our son's future as he seeks a summer job and college in the Fall
5) wisdom from the Father in How long do we continue to stay?

Thank you for your faithful praying.

One of my favorite quotes, "Things happen when we pray, that don't happen when we don't pray."

In Him,

Guy, Linda, Josh, and Anna Muse

P.S. Anyone desiring to be added to our monthly PrayerNewsletter list, please send a blank email to: muse-prayerlist-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Tuesday, May 4

What's the difference between converts and disciples?

This is a common question. If making disciples is the what we are to be about, how do we know if we are accomplishing this effectively? The difference between converts and disciples is that disciples obey what Christ commanded. Converts listen and might believe what they are taught, but little is applied in their own lives.

With converts, activity takes the place of obedience. We are easily seduced into thinking if we are involved in Christian activities, we are doing the right thing. Being obedient disciples is something quite different. It is not activity oriented. It is obedience to Christ's commands. Not how much we know of the Bible, but how much we obey what Christ says.

Everyone knows, or at least has heard about the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. But how many Christians know and can quote the Ten Commandments of Christ?

As part of the Great Commission Jesus clearly instructs "teaching them to observe ALL that I commanded you..." What exactly did Christ command?

One quick test to see how much of a disciple we really are is to grade ourselves on a scale of 1-10 on the approximate degree of obedience to each of the following commandments.

Add up the points. If you score 50% or greater, you lean towards being a disciple. If 50% or less, you lean more towards being a convert.


2) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20.

3) ...love one another. The New Commandment: John 13:34-35, 15:12.

4) ...seek first His kingdom and His righteousness... The Priority commandment for every believer: Matthew 6:33.

5) ...do this in remembrance of Me... The Lord's Supper: Luke 20:14-20, 1 Corinthians 12:23-26.

6) ...wash one another's feet...you also should do as I did to you... The Great Example Commandment: John 13:14-15.

7) Abide in Me... The Commandment that is the secret to a fruitful life: John 15:4-8.

8) ...beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest... The only specific request Christ commanded his disciples to pray besides the Lord's Prayer: Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:38.

9) ...do not pass judgment...do not condemn...pardon...give... General Commandments of Jesus for victorious living: Luke 6:37-38.

10) ...love your enemies...do good to those who hate you...bless those who curse you...pray for those who mistreat you... Commandments for loving our enemies: Luke 6:27-36, Matthew 5:43-48.

Christians should not measure their spiritual maturity based upon their knowledge of the Gospel, but upon their obedience of what they know of the Gospel. We should never confuse our knowing the commands of Christ with obeying them in our personal lives. The Christian walk is not about what we know, but about how much we OBEY what it is we know.

Saturday, May 1

My kind of church

I love this story that appears in Tony Campolo's The Kingdom Of God Is A Party. Below is Gary Snowden's abbreviated retelling of the story...

Campolo found himself wide awake and hungry one morning at 3:30 a.m. while on a speaking trip to Honolulu. He found a greasy spoon diner open and ordered coffee and a donut which Harry grabbed off the shelf (without tongs or wax paper of course) and plopped on his plate. As he was eating, a group of 8 or 9 streetwalkers noisily entered the diner. Their language was crude as well as the subject matter of their conversation and Campolo was planning his exit when he heard one of them who was seated next to him tell her companion that the next day was her birthday. Her friend seated on the other side of her from Campolo responded, “What do you expect me to do, throw you a party or something?” The woman by Campolo replied, “No, I wouldn’t expect you to do that. In fact, I’ve never had a birthday party in my entire life.”

After the women left, Campolo asked Harry if they came in often. He replied that they were regulars every night. Campolo asked if the lady seated next to him also came each night. Harry identified her as Agnes and said she was there each evening. Campolo proposed to Harry that he come back the next night if it was okay and decorate the diner for a birthday celebration for Agnes. Harry agreed and insisted that he would bake a birthday cake for the occasion.

The next night Campolo arrived about 2:30 to decorate the diner with balloons and streamers and a big banner that said “Happy Birthday Agnes.” By the time Agnes and her friends arrived, the diner was packed with other women who shared her profession. News had gotten out via the grapevine about the party. On cue, Campolo led the group in singing Happy Birthday to Agnes and Harry brought out the cake with the candles already lit. Agnes had gotten a bit teary-eyed at the singing of Happy Birthday, but at the sight of the cake she lost it totally and began to weep uncontrollably. Harry kept insisting that she blow out the candles or he’d do so himself, which he finally did. Harry handed Agnes a knife and said, “Go ahead and cut the cake, Agnes. We’re hungry. We want some cake.”

Agnes paused, staring at the cake and finally spoke to Harry. She asked him if they might wait a bit before the cut the cake. He replied, “Sure, it’s your cake. You can even take it home if you’d like.”

Agnes replied, “Can I really? I live just down the street. I’ll be right back, I promise.” Then carrying the cake as if it were the Holy Grail, she walked out of the diner and everyone sat in stunned silence.

At that point Campolo said, “What do you say we pray?” Looking back on the event Campolo said it was a highly unusual setting—a Baptist preacher surrounded by streetwalkers in a diner at 3:30 a.m. in a prayer meeting. He prayed for Agnes’ salvation and the blessings of God upon her life.

When he had concluded his prayer, Harry leaned over the counter a bit confrontationally and said gruffly, “Hey, you never told me you were a preacher! What kind of church do you belong to?”

In a moment of inspiration, Campolo replied, “The kind of church that throws birthday parties for streetwalkers at 3:30 a.m.”

After a brief pause, Harry responded, “No you don’t. There’s no church like that. If there was, I’d join it. I’d join a church like that!”