JRF's #35 - Deny Yourself by Steve Gallagher

I was given this short book(let?) at last years' Desiring God Conference, Finish the Mission. It is a collection of 20 short biographical excerpts ranging from the early church to the 20th Century that highlight extraordinary examples of Christian missionary faithfulness, even faithfulness unto death.  We have been reading a chapter every saturday morning as a family.  It has been convicting and steeling to be reminded of the faithfulness of those who truly understood the value of the Gospel for themselves and for the lost, and literally loved those trapped in darkness to death.

When missionary to China, Jack Vinson was asked by his executioner, "I am going to kill you.  Aren't you afraid?"  Vinson simply replied, "Kill me, if you wish.  I will go straight to God."  Inspired by Vinson's sacrifice Presbyterian minister wrote a poem entitled "Afraid? Of What?" that went on to become the theme of all missionaries in China during that period.

Afraid?  Of What?

To feel the Spirit's glad release?  To pass from pain to perfect peace, 

 The strife and strain of life to cease? Afraid - of that?

Afraid? Of What?

Afraid to see the Savior's face, To hear His welcome, and to trace

The glory gleam from wounds of grace?  Afraid - of that?

Afraid? Of What? 

A flash, a crash, a pierced heart; Darkness, light, O Heaven's art!

A wound of His a counterpart! Afraid - of that?

Afraid? Of What?

To do by death what life could not - Baptize with blood a stony plot, 

Till souls shall blossom from the spot? Afraid - of that?

Mark's #50 - Unto Death: Martyrdom, Missions, and the Maturity of the Church by Dalton Thomas (2012)

Gripped by fear and an overriding goal of self-preservation, few Christians today will pursue dangerous or even "risky" situations to advance the Kingdom of God

Unto Death is 27-year-old Dalton Thomas' passionate plea for Christians today to turn their eyes to Jesus, see His all surpassing worth, and joyfully and boldly go to the most difficult places on earth with the proclamation of the gospel.  More than just an emotional plea however, Thomas grounds his convictions in the Word of God and the testimony of followers of Christ who "loved not their lives even unto death (Rev. 12:11)".  Along the way, we are reminded of the worth of Christ, the continual presence and purposes of God in the martyrdom of His saints, the joy, love and grace of martyrdom, the role of martyrdom in the fulfilling of the great commission (Mt. 18:19-20), and how the maturity of the church of Jesus hinges on our growth toward embracing the cost of following Christ, even unto death.

In spite of his youth (27 - I'm 37), Dalton Thomas writes clearly and convincingly about an essential issue for us in the church in the west today.  I stumbled upon this book when my friend Buddy posted on his Facebook wall as a free kindle book.  I almost didn't read it because it was free and I had never heard of the guy. However, when I saw that one of the recommendations of the book came from David Sitton, I decided it would be worth my time.  I'm glad I did.  This is one of the best books I've read this year.

Here's a few more quotes that grabbed my heart while reading:

"Death is a means.  Christ is the end.  Joy is the motive.  And glorious is the journey."

"Though not every believer is called to give a martyr-witness, every believer is called to embrace a martyr-mentality, every Church a martyr-mandate, and every ministry a martyr-theology."

"The gospel is so valuable that no risk is unreasonable"

Here's a short trailer for the book by the author: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfBuWnEtmI0&feature=player_embedded

JRF's #33 - The Nudge in My Side: Stories from Indonesia and the Philippines by Bob McCroskey

A friend gave me this book, knowing that we are interested in missions in Indonesia.  Overall its a good book, filled with short stories of God's work in Indonesia and the Philippines.  It was exciting to read about how the Lord has called former Muslims, Animist canibals, and nominal Christians to faithfully proclaim His Good News and plant churches in this "closed" country, often with little to no resources.  It was also informative to read about how vital the pastor's training schools were in these stories.  Reading this has definitely got my wheels spinning about future ministry models. I would probably hesitate to recommend this book to many others however, due to it being a publication of the Church of the Nazarene.  As such, there are many references to unfamiliar traditions, squirelly doctrines, and Finney-esque methods ("holiness" preaching, alabaster offerings?, words from the Lord, accepting Jesus into my heart...etc) that would probably be confusing to some readers.  Also there seems to be no acknowledgement in the stories that there are any other churches, missionaries, or believers in these areas other than those in the Nazarene church, which I know is not the case.




JRF's #30 - Lord Radstock and the Russian Awakening by David Fountain


Granville Augustus William Waldegrave, 3rd Baron Radstock, known to history as Lord Radstock, is one of the many unsung heroes of the modern missionary movement.  He was godfather to the Cambridge Seven.  He was a dear friend of George Muller.  He was the father of Russian Protestantism.  He was both admired and caricatured by the Russian elite, including the Czar, Tolstoy and Boborykin.  And he was one of those rare men of wealth who leveraged his earthly treasure and high position for an eternal purpose.

I have wanted to learn more about Lord Radstock when he was mentioned briefly in John Pollock's Cambridge Seven which I read last year.

David Fountain's short book gives a good sketch of Radstock's life.   Unfortunately it is just that, a sketch.  Fountain's greatest success in this book was to wet my appetite for more information on this amazing man's life and legacy.  I look forward to learning more from the life and ministry of this faithful disciple.


(by the way if any of you readers are a person of considerable wealth, I am looking for a Radstock type to support our missionary work in South East Asia...let me know :)

JRF's #25 - The Chocolate Soldier by C.T. Studd

In the Chocolate Soldier, C.T. Studd - Cricketing superstar turned missionary - booms out a challenge to all who call themselves followers of Christ, drawing a line in the sand between those who will talk about being in the battle to bring the Gospel to the unreached and those who actually plunge headfirst into it.

I often felt like I was getting yelled at by a drill sergeant...and that was a good thing.  Too often it is easy to forget that being a citizen in Christ's Kingdom means to be at war with the Kingdom of Darkness.  Serving with the Marines and seeing the selflessness and even eagerness with which these men and women rush into danger makes me ashamed that I so often lack that kind of eagerness to rush into a battle whose victory is already assured and Whose cause is infinitely more noble.  This book helped to awaken me.

I leave you with a few choice quotes:

"EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN IS A SOLDIER --of Christ--a hero 'par excellence'!  Braver than the bravest-scorning the soft seductions of peace and her oft-repeated warnings against hardship, disease, danger, adn death, whom he counts among his bosom friends.  THE OTHERWISE CHRISTIAN IS A CHOCOLATE CHRISTIAN! Dissolving in water and melting at the smell of fire."

"REAL CHRISTIANS REVEL IN DESPERATE VENTURES FOR CHRIST, expecting from God great things and attempting the same with exhilaration."

Speaking of John the Baptist - "Had John but heard Jesus say, "Ye shall be my witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth," I very much doubt if Herod's dungeon, or his soldiers, could have detained him.  He surely would have found some means of escape, and run off to preach Christ's Gospel, if not in the very heart of Africa, then in some place more difficult and dangerous place.  Yet Christ said, referring to His subsequent gift of the Holy Ghost to every believer, "He that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he," intimating that even greater powers than those of John are at the disposal of every Christian, and that what John was, each one of us can be -- good, straight, bold, unconquerable, heroic."

"It's good to have a great heart searching.  It's better to have a great heart-resolve.  But, if instead of obeying, we squat among the sheep, leaving our few hard-pressed brethren to tackle the wolves by themselves, verily we are but Chocolate Christians."

Speaking of those who hide their call to mission in a supposed call to pastor, "Doubtless they said, 'They couldn't fight until they had been properly ordained, and besides, there was so very much to be done in fat, overfed Meroz, and surely to feed a flock of fat sheep in a safe place has alway been considered the ideal training of war'; as though the best training for the soldier was to become a nurse-maid!!!"

"CHOCOLATES are very fond of talking loud against some whom they call fanatics, as though there were any danger of Christians being fanatics nowadays!...God's real people have always been called fanatics...No one has graduated far in God's School who has not been paid the compliment of being called a fanatic."

"We Christians too often SUBSTITUTE PRAYER FOR PLAYING THE GAME.  Prayer is good: but when used as a substitute for obedience, it is naught but a blatant hypocrisy, a despicable Pharisaism."

JRF's #23 - City of Dreams by Mark W. Medley

This book is a collection of short reflections, observations, and ancedotes about Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta.  They provide a street-level view of the crowded, gritty, humid urban life of the world's densest metropolitan jungle as seen through the eyes of an expatriate.

Unfortunately, said expatriate is a horrible writer...seriously...really bad.  Virtually every paragraph had misspelled words, missing or inappropriate punctuation, or non-sensical grammar.

Most of the stories were interesting (if you could decipher the grammar), some were crude, many were bizzare, and all were informative.

When read through a missiological lens, there is much to chew on in this quick read.

But someone needs to send this in for a re-edit.