Thanksgiving Fuel

What fuels your thanksgiving? I’m not talking about the gas for your oven or the electricity for your fryer. No, what fuels your response of thanksgiving? On this day around the United States many of us will stop for a moment and reflect on what we are thankful for. In other words, we will identify what causes us to be thankful.

A verse has been running through my head since it was mentioned recently in chapel at SIM USA. Philippians 1:3, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” As I have thought about it and researched the other 10 verses like it in the New Testament, it occurs to me this is our fuel for thanksgiving. It involves at least three things, reflecting, remembering, and responding.

Reflecting is the action of thinking deeply and carefully about something. We likely can’t remember something unless we are reflecting on something that causes us to remember. Today, possibly more than any other day in the USA, many of us will be reflecting. We will be reflecting on things that cause us to be thankful.

In our reflection, we will remember many things. I’m sure this will result in many similar items. We are thankful for our family, job, friends, food, shelter, and so on. Followers of Jesus are thankful for his life, death, and resurrection. We need to take time to remember all these things today because all of them rightfully fuel our thanksgiving.

I think the key is the part about responding. The Apostle Paul wrote Philippians 1:3 as well as the other verses like I mentioned above. Our day of Thanksgiving is possibly a lot of reflecting and remembering without enough responding. Notice my word choice is responding and not saying. Too often in our thanksgiving our focus is on the things we say we are thankful for and we miss to Whom we should be thankful. Look at who Paul thanks for Philippians. He thanks God. He responds to God.

James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift comes from above.” Can you see? God gives us these things that we remember that fuels our thanksgiving back to Him for those wonderful gifts. All of it is a gift. Therefore, our tables at Thanksgiving should really be a time of prayer to God responding to Him for all the things He has given to fuel our thanksgiving.

One final note. In the USA, we have an abundance of things that can cause us to be thankful, but there is one primary thing we see in Paul’s writings that we should particularly remember. We should remember each other. It’s all about people. Paul thanks God for the Philippians, the Romans, the Corinthians, and many others, so it is all about the people in his life. As we sit at our tables with family or friends or even by ourselves today, let us thank God for the people He has given us in our lives.

In fact, people are truly the fuel for our thanksgiving to God.

Don’t Stop Short Term Mission Trips Just Yet

A short term mission trip is the reason I serve as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for SIM USA, which sends long term workers to over 70 countries around the world.

Actually, as I reflected on the title of Darren Carlson’s recent post I’d Probably Still Cancel Your Short Term Mission Trip I realized that while I do believe I’m serving today as a long term worker with SIM USA because of a short term mission trip, there are many other factors to remember as well.

• The death of a close friend, which resulted in a short term missions trip.

• Turmoil in our church.

• My wife and I taking the Perspectives Course at separate times.

• Hearing a long term worker describe the needs for accountants and teachers.

• Taking our whole family on a short term missions trip.

• An internet search engine introduced me to the CFO position for an organization I never heard of but has existed for over 125 years.

When I think back through our story, several short term mission trips were used by God to move in our hearts that He was calling us to long term service. And God used all those other factors as well to compel us to uproot our family from Texas and move to the Carolinas.

Now I’m overseeing the finances for SIM USA, and we discuss the value of short term mission trips in order to lead people to long term service. I resonate with some of the research findings that Darren presented. In particular, short term trips don’t cause more people to go into long term service and that those short term trips have proven to cause more harm to local economies and orphans (and others in my opinion).

Therefore, should organizations put all their efforts into short term mission trips believing more long term workers will result? Definitely not. But, should organizations stop short term mission trips? Definitely not.

In the same way that God used many avenues to lead us to long term service with SIM USA, He does the same in the hearts of all those He calls to service of any kind. God’s ways are varied, mysterious, and amazingly gracious. Organizations would be wise to consider the research and ideas that Darren presents for short term trips.

Darren also has a section in his post about “Stealing Resources?” One concern is that short term trips require significant financial investment which takes away from supporting long term workers. As a CFO, I think these are great points to consider as organizations develop their strategies for short term mission trips.

However, I have seen that the financial resources in God’s hands are infinitely greater than I can imagine. As a worker serving to support those in the harvest field, I strive to remember this on a daily basis. God will never run out of money or resources, and I see evidence of this through His faithfulness to our workers every week.

Finally, it was noted that short term mission trips don’t change people’s lives. I agree! In 18 years of leadership, I haven’t seen anything that changes people’s lives except Jesus Christ.

Serving at SIM USA, this truth is displayed often. Each morning we have chapel we remind ourselves that Jesus changes lives. We hear testimonies of God’s work where we see Jesus transforming those who are going, those who are sending, and the nations who are receiving. And every story is never the same story. God graciously changes each person and peoples in the most perfect and unique ways. Indeed, His grace is amazing.

So my simple takeaway is:

• God uses all sorts of avenues to call His workers to the harvest field all over the world. Short term trips is one of those avenues. Just as Darren presented and I echo, do them the right way.

• God has infinite resources at His disposal and, in particular, the financial resources are in abundance. We can trust that God will administer those resources in such a way for the good of His people and for His glory.

• God will continue to change people’s lives all around the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let’s join Him in that work no matter where we are or what we are doing.

Supporting Missionaries Based in the United States

Do you struggle to financially support missionaries who are based in the United States?


If everyone who trusts in Christ is a missionary then why are some supported financially by family, friends, and donors and others are self-supported?

As is usually the case when we ask questions like this, we are asking the wrong question. We are starting from the wrong vantage point. Instead, maybe we should ask, “How are missionaries supported?” Then we realize that there is only one answer to this question, which helps us think differently about our first question above.

Yes, if we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ then we are a missionary. So what is a missionary?

This is best described in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

A missionary is someone who:

-Has been reconciled to God through Christ (they have put their faith and trust in Christ)

-Has the ministry of reconciliation (their whole life is about reconciliation)

-Has been entrusted with the message of reconciliation (specifically making an appeal to others to be reconciled to God through Christ)

Maybe you ask, “How does God reconcile us to Himself through Christ?” The next verse is very helpful. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake God made Jesus Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God.”

God reconciled us to Himself by having Jesus pay the penalty for our sin while also declaring us righteous before Himself. Jesus clothed himself in our sin, and we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus as a result. We must note that Jesus has done all the work. It is the grace of God that we can be reconciled to Him.

How in the world does this help us with our question at the beginning? “If everyone who trusts in Christ is a missionary then why are some supported financially by family, friends, and donors and others are self-supported?” Furthermore, we really haven’t answered the question yet, “How are missionaries supported?”

Let’s start to answer those now. So far, we can see who is a missionary and what their life is all about (reconciliation). When we recognize that “All this is from God,” it transforms our thinking. “How are missionaries supported?”

“All this is from God.” That’s how. That’s why the first question isn’t the right question. All missionaries are supported by God. In the palm of His hand is the whole world and all the resources of the world belong to Him. All missionaries are supported by God and His grace to you and me.

If you work in the corporate world, the money you receive is from God. If you are a worker overseas who lives off the financial support of others, the money you receive is from God. If you work for a non-profit who operates based on the financial gifts of others, the money you receive is from God. “All this is from God.”

So why is it difficult for us to give financially of the resources we have received from God for people who are missionaries within their home country? I think that answer has at least two parts. 1. It simply isn’t flashy enough. 2. The belief we aren’t reaching the unreached.

Consider with me which option is the best stewardship of God’s resources:

A. Four people do all the work to determine the best health insurance plan for 1,000 other people.

B. 1,000 people each do the work to determine the best health insurance plan.


A. Five people work through the research, preparation, and administration of a financial budget within a foreign country for 1,000 other people.

B. 1,000 people each do the work to research, prepare, and administer their financial budget within a foreign country.

Again, how does this help us answer, “Why is it difficult for us to give financially of the resources we have received from God for people who are missionaries within their home country?” The options above help us see we have the wrong view in mind.

“All this is from God.” Elsewhere in the Bible we see this applied in another way. Consider Ephesians 4:7, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” And Romans 12:3b-6a, “Think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

That helps us see our answer. Each one of us have gifts that function differently from one another according to the grace of God given to us, and we are called to use them.

It is difficult for us to give financially to missionaries within their home country because we fail to see how God is using the gifts of the missionary in their home country to reach the unreached of the world. We limit our view of how God works to a location rather than seeing the kingdom of God as a whole. If God has given each of us gifts that function differently, we all can’t be working directly within countries among unreached peoples.

Why? Because when members of the body of Christ use their gifts as God intended, each member of the body will be performing different functions that ultimately support the exaltation of the kingdom of God as a whole. That’s why the options above highlight how the body of Christ is more effective when each missionary is using their God-given gifts appropriately. Four people or five people doing what God has gifted them to do is far and away better than 1,000 people trying to do what they are not gifted to do. “All this is from God.”

Do you struggle to financially support missionaries who are based in the United States?

Our family is one of those that God has called to use their gifts to support God’s people to magnify His work all over the world. We are based in the United States. We believe we are more effective at reaching the unreached people in the world by using our gifts at SIM USA so that 1,000 people working among the unreached will be more effective using the gifts God has given them.

Consider financially supporting and with prayer a missionary based in the United States. God has gifted us differently in order to function differently. God has gifted you financial resources to give to His work. You can faithfully give those resources to missionaries based in the United States because they are having a direct effect on the missionaries among the unreached to be able to use their gifts as God intended.

Pray and give to a missionary based in the United States today.

Musings of a Tomb Guard

“Wake up! We must go guard the tomb!
Saturday ruined! It seems obvious to assume.
Soldiers all gather to listen to chief priests, Pharisees.
Duty is calling but can we just get a little rest please?

Guard the tomb was our primary job,
Protection from the disciples’ mob;
Clearly a day filled with being bored,
To watch a tomb of a man adored;
Was he a prophet or crazy in the head?
Was he a blasphemer or someone just dead?

A Roman centurion watched the night before,
Surely the Son of God he would implore;
Was this gossip or was this true?
Seems as though only God knew.

Gathered at the tomb was the entire guard,
Stealing him away was going to be hard;
What’s the big deal, this man was kind?
He fed thousands and healed the blind.
But called Himself God, sounded crazy,
Named the Pharisees like no daisy;

This Saturday would not be filled with rest,
Watch all day and night for any uninvited guest;
Indeed all day nobody ever arrived,
We wonder, would this man be revived?
Will tomorrow bring what yesterday promised?
Or will Sunday just be a day the most calmest?

Now darkness is here and all is still quiet,
Everyone finds silence is their steady diet;
Hearts begin to wonder is God absent?
Or should that thought make us repent?

Just after midnight into the next day,
Still no activity even on this Sunday;
Tired and weary there’s a sudden light,
The earth quakes, we’re all in a fright;
Brilliant angel appears in pure white,
The stone rolled away in the dead of night;

We watch alive though bodies seem dead,
Did Jesus really arise just as he said?
Two women now here at the break of dawn,
The angel explains that this is no con;
Jesus had risen, they go and see,
Seeing the truth, they quickly flee;
The tomb is EMPTY, share the good news,
We, soldiers, are stunned, this is no ruse;

Word begins to spread, so we go to the city,
Share the news with elder, Pharisee committee;
They want to pay us so we would lie,
To defuse what happened before our eye;
I couldn’t take the money for that fib,
The truth didn’t need me to be that glib;

Did my eyes see a promise fulfilled?
Jesus alive after he had been killed?
Do I now believe the good news of this man?
All of this happened according to His plan.
A stunning reversal from night to day,
“I must believe” is all that I can say.
The world’s most evil wrong now turned,
To give grace to me, which is unearned;

Jesus gave His life for His sheep,
The Bread of Life we can all keep;
The River of Living Water,
All because of His slaughter;
The Lamb of God, Resurrection and Life,
Light of the world, and peace from strife;

My final conclusion is I must believe,
Then it is His rest that I can receive;
My day began in total annoyance,
Jesus came to life for my total joyance!

Written Narrative

“Wake up! We must go guard the tomb!” Why am I being awakened on my Saturday? All I want to do is rest.

“Hurry, the chief priests and Pharisees are gathering the soldiers to guard the tomb!” All I want to do is rest. But, duty calls, and I always answer that call.

All the soldiers gathered as the chief priests and Pharisees explained our responsibility. Clearly it was going to be a long day and night of being bored guarding the tomb of some religious zealot. Many of our people thought he was a prophet, many thought he was crazy, many thought he was a blasphemer, but I think he’s just dead.

There was word among our group that a Roman centurion watched him die the night before and believed he was the Son of God. Others said they had heard that the curtain in the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. How much of this was the gossip grapevine? How much of this was true? Maybe only God knows.

It looked like every soldier in our entire army was gathered for this assignment. Why do we need so many? I had seen this man in the last couple of years. Some said he was our king. All I saw was that he cared for the poor, healed the sick, and fed thousands. But, I also heard that he said some crazy things like the Pharisees were vipers and whitewashed tombs.

So here we are, hundreds of us if not thousands of us guarding this tomb of a single dead guy. How would his disciples even steal him away? The stone in front of the tomb would take a hundred men or more to roll away. It’s going to be a boring Saturday, and I’m clearly not going to get rest.

As evening begins, we have been standing watch for over 12 hours. Nobody has even come by. Apparently this man said he would rise after three days, so we are guarding the tomb to make sure no one would fake this man’s resurrection. The same question is ringing through our hearts, “Will tomorrow bring what yesterday promised?”

Darkness has fallen all around us. There are murmurs among the soldiers that this has been the biggest waste of time. Although, maybe his disciples are waiting to get him until it is fully dark. Many soldiers have turned quiet. We wonder if God is absent in this silence.

It is just after midnight, now Sunday morning, and there has still been no activity. We are all tired, and we are all convinced that the chief priests and Pharisees were afraid for nothing. We are getting no rest.

Then all of the sudden the earth shook and a bright light-like lightning filled the sky. Before our eyes was a man or an angel dressed in pure white. It was like we could see all this happening but our bodies couldn’t move. We were dead although alive. Then we realized this magnificent being had rolled the stone away by himself!

Two women had arrived just as the light began to dawn. The angel proclaimed that Jesus had risen. The women entered the tomb and departed with great fear and joy that the tomb was EMPTY! They hurried to go share the good news.

Many of us soldiers went into the city to share with the chief priests all that had happened. They were neither surprised nor upset. Instead, the chief priests and elders gathered together and determined to pay us not to tell what happened. In fact, they wanted us to lie and say that Jesus’ disciples had taken his body.

I wasn’t going to take that money. I wasn’t going to lie. But, I also had to ask myself if this Jesus was who He said he was. Did he really rise after three days? Did I see that with my own eyes? How can I explain what happened any other way? Indeed, truly Jesus is the Son of God.

Jesus really is the Shepherd who laid down his life for His sheep. Jesus really is the Bread of Life and Fountain of Living Water. Jesus is the Lamb of God. Jesus is the Light of the World. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

I believe! I can come to Jesus, and He has promised me REST!

My Most Impactful Book

If you could pick only one book in your life that you consider to be the most impactful, what would it be? Maybe the Bible or Pilgrim’s Progress come to mind as the two most popular books of all time. Aside from these two, what is your most impactful book?

This question was recently posed to me, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. There is a book that has been the most impactful to me and is daily still impacting me.

It is not likely one you will recognize but one that I hope to expose you to in this short post today.

A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent. Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love Purchase Here

Why is a book that is less than 100 pages so impactful?

  1. Every page is rooted in the Bible. In 75 pages there are over 290 references to scripture, and they are all provided as footnotes to read with the book.
  2. The book is broken down into four parts. Part I is 31 reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. Part II is a gospel narrative in prose form, and Part III is a gospel narrative in poetic form. Finally, Part IV is the story behind the book. All four sections are easy to read but ever so compelling to digest and contemplate.
  3. Don’t we love bite-size nuggets that we can eat but are weighty enough to fill us. This is the beauty of Part I. Each reason ranges from one paragraph to five paragraphs with the majority of them one to two paragraphs long. Short enough to not take too much time but weighty enough to last you the whole day. Oh so good!
  4. In the foreword, Mike Bullmore says it well, “I felt like I had been given a handful of precious diamonds and I could not stop looking at them.”
  5. Finally, Milton Vincent says in the Introduction, “God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. Actually, He offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness. The wise believer learns this truth early and becomes proficient in extracting available benefits from the gospel each day. We extract these benefits by being absorbed in the gospel, speaking it to ourselves when necessary, and by daring to reckon it true in all we do.”

To whet your appetite further, here are some quotes from the book.

From Part I

“The gospel is so foolish (according to my natural wisdom), so scandalous (according to my conscience), and so incredible (according to my timid heart), that it is a daily battle to believe the full scope of it as I should. There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the Devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel.”

“As I habitually gaze upon the glory of the Lord revealed in the gospel, I can know that actual deposits of God’s very glory are attaching themselves to my person and transforming me from one level of glory to another.”

“I never have to do a moment’s labor to gain or maintain my justified status before God!”

“By preaching the gospel to myself each day, I nurture the bond that unites me with my brothers and sisters for whom Christ died, and I also keep myself well-versed in the raw materials with which I may actively love them in Christ.”

“Preaching the gospel to myself each day mounts a powerful assault against my pride and serves to establish humility in its place.”

“More than anything else I could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them.”

From Part II

“This wonderful God is the most supremely worthy Object of admiration, honor, and delight in all of the universe; And He has created me with the intention that I might glorify Him by finding my soul’s delight in Him and by living in joyful obedience to Him in all of my ways.”

From Part III

“And when I am sinning

God’s grace does abound,

Ensuring my justified

status is sound.

No wrath is awakened

in God at my sin,

Because Christ appeased it

(to say so again).

God’s heart pulses only

with passionate grace,

Which jealously wants me

back in His embrace.”

This is just a flavor of the drink you can enjoy over and over again. Buy the book in hard copy or e-book, and eat of it daily! Purchase Here