“Mission on Every Page of Your Bible?”

There is a tendency in reading the Bible to miss the all-pervasive message that God is on a mission (or, as the title of Lesson 1 in Perspectives states it, “The Living God is a Missionary God”). In other words, as I used to stay to my students, “Open your Bible to any page and I will show you missions on that page.” A rather audacious challenge but one that I believe I can back up.

So it is that I offer here the outline that I created with the intention of illustrating the nature of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation as “The Story of God on Mission.”


I. God is passionate (zealous, jealous). Passion, of necessity, always results in mission. Therefore, God is missional by nature. God is passionate about…

A. …his name (Ezek. 39:25)

B. …his worship (Ex. 20:5; 34:14; Num. 25:10-13; I Kgs. 14:22; 19:10,

C. …the purposes he has for his people (II Kgs. 19:31) and for his Son
(Isa. 9:7)

D. …his dwelling (Psa. 69:9; Jn. 2:17)

E. …his word (Psa. 119:139)

II. God’s was passionate before Gen. 1:1. Therefore, God in eternity was missional.

A. “Before/since the foundation of the world” (Mt. 13:35; 25:34; Eph.
1:4; I Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8; 17:8)

B. To plan for his Son’s coming kingdom (Mt. 13:11, 35; 25:34)

C. On alert in the face of hostility (angelic conflict in the eternal

D. Rooted in the kind intentions of his purpose (Lk. 12:32; Eph. 1:5, 9;

E. Mutually reciprocating Trinitarian sharing of glory (Jn. 17:4)

F. Mutual, reciprocal Trinitarian loving of one another (Jn. 17:25)

G. Prioritizing His Son’s fame (I Pet. 1:20)

H. His intention to unite his Son to a bride (Isa. 54:5; Hos. 2:16; Rev.

I. His intention to adopt “sons” into his family (Rom. 8:15; 9:4; Eph.

III. God’s pre-creation decisions resulted in the purposeful creation of a universe. Therefore, God’s creation of a universe was a missional act.

A. For his Son (Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2)

B. As his Son’s temple-residence (Gen. 3:8)

C. To display the Son’s glory so that he can be worshiped (Num.
14:21; etc.)

D. To showcase the Son’s extraordinary capacity for love (Eph. 3:19)

E. To have earth creatures made in the Son’s image (Gen. 1:26-27;
Jas. 3:9)

1. Who can worship the Son (Gen. 2:15)
2. Who can be loved by the Son and who can reciprocate that
3. Who can spread the Son’s fame (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:7; I Pet.
4. Who can be Jesus’ dwelling (Ex. 25:8; Jn. 17:21; Eph. 3:17-19)
5. Who will be zealous for the Father’s glory (Num. 25:10-13;
6. Who can be united with the Son in marriage (Eph. 5:32; Rev.

F. Susceptible to hostility against the Father’s agenda (Gen. 2:15)

IV. God’s creation was defiled (Gen. 3-11). Thus, His mission was threatened.

A. Therefore, a missional God cannot gain access to his fallen

(1) The humans failed in their assignment to guard creation
(Note “subdue”, Gen. 1:28; “keep” in Gen. 2:15)
(2) The Antagonist immigrated into the universe (Gen. 3:1)
(3) God is punishing the wicked, not solving the sin problem
(Gen. 3-11)
(4) The entire temple-universe was profaned
(5) The three-fold cycle of sin: Fall (Gen. 3-5), Flood (Gen. 6-10),
Flop (Gen. 11)

B. Therefore, God still intends to complete his original mission.
(1) The genealogies (Gen. 5, 10, 11) preserve the godly line that
will bring resolution
(2) The promise of Gen. 3:15 offers hope that the serpent’s
reign will end
(3) Since humans were to manage the Son’s original universe, a
Human (the Seed of the Woman) will resolve the dilemma
(Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4)

V. For the survival of the mission, a plan is launched to regain mediated access to the Son’s temple (Gen. 12:1-3). Therefore, God’s intentions for Israel are missional. A holy God has five means of mediated access to regain access to his defiled temple:

A. Holy people – Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 12:1-3)

1. Appointment: Agents to execute God’s mission
2. Mandate: Bless all the families of the earth (Dt. 4:5-8; Psa. 67;
3. Method: Live in visible obedience in close proximity to the

B. Holy land – Situated on the trade routes in close proximity to the

C. Holy (Sacred) blessings (blessings = resources – Rom. 9:4-5)

1. Adoption as sons
2. Glory (God’s presence among his people)
3. Covenants (agreements)
4. Law
5. Service (Levitical activities and ceremony)
6. Promises
7. Fathers (the patriarchal history of God’s faithfulness to Israel)
8. Christ (“the Messiah”)

D. Holy dwellings
1. Garden (Gen. 3:8)
2. Altars, shrines (Gen. 12:8; 13:4; etc.)
3. Tabernacle (Ex. 25:8; 29:45-46; 40:34-35; Lev. 26:11; Num. 5:3)
4. Temple (I Kgs. 8:11-13; II Chr. 5:14; 7:1-3; Psa. 84:1-4; 132:5;
Hag. 2:7)
5. Jesus (Jn. 1:14-18; Col. 1:19; 2:9)
6. Church (John 1:16; 15:4; Eph. 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:10, 13; Col. 2:10)
7. The New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3)

E. Holy events – Holy convocations (Leviticus 23:2, 21, 24, 35; etc.)
1. Feasts
2. Holy days
3. Sabbath (day, year)

VI. Israel on Mission: Genesis to Malachi (Isa. 42:6; 49:6). Therefore, the entire Old Testament is a narrative of Israel on God’s mission.

VII. The Plan Extended: Jesus and his followers on Mission. Therefore, the entire New Testament and subsequent church history is the story of Jesus’ followers on God’s mission.

A. The Seed of the Woman Arrives: the Gospels

1. Calling disciples (Mt. 4:19; Mk. 1:17)
2. Jesus comes to complete the Abrahamic mission (Lk. 2:32;
Gal. 3:8)
3. Focused on Gentiles (Synoptic Gospels; e.g., Mt. 4:15-16)
4. The Abrahamic Covenant reaffirmed (Gen. 12:3 with Mt.
5. Disciples commissioned and sent (Acts 1:8)

B. The Gospel to the Gentiles: The Epistles (Rom. 1:5)

C. The mission extended over 21 centuries of history (Perspectives
Lessons 6-8)

VIII. The Climax: Mission Accomplished (Revelation 5:9; 7:9; 21:24; 22:2).Therefore, God’s purposes are shown to have always been missional.

Dave Shive

Amy Carmichael and Jim Elliot – “Make me Your fuel, O Flame of God!”

As a man of the 20th century, a Post-War baby boomer, and one who is passionate about completing the great work that Jesus left his followers to complete, I feel like I live in two worlds.

On the one hand, I recognize the need for suffering and persecution as the price tag that goes with the advance of the Gospel. I cut my teeth as a teen and young Christian reading the biographies of Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, and Jim Elliot and the writings of Amy Carmichael. A fire was lit in me to be fully devoted to completion of the Great Commission, regardless of the cost.

But on the other hand, I am torn by my desire to be comfortable, safe, healthy, and live to a ripe old age.

It is in this schizophrenic mental angst that I find myself return constantly to the writings of Amy Carmichael –

O Prince of Glory, who dost bring
Thy sons to glory through the Cross
Let us not shrink from suffering
Reproach or loss.

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,

From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakening,
Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified.

From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

…and Jim Elliot –

“God, I pray light up these idle sticks of my life and may I burn up for Thee. Consume my life, My God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one like yours, Lord Jesus.”

“Father, take my life, yes, my blood, if Thou wilt, and consume it with Thine enveloping fire, I would not save it, for it is not mine to save…Pour out my life as an oblation for the world. Blood is only of value as it flows before thine altars.”

…and finally Elisabeth Elliot –

“To be a follower of the Crucified Christ means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss. The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one who calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact. It is not by any means an easy thing to recognize, within a given instance of personal loss, the opportunity it affords for participation in Christ’s own loss.”

These quotes are my prayer today for myself and for the Church. – Dave Shive

Calvary Love and the Pursuit of God’s Mission

This is the second in a short series of blogs concerning the ministry and writings of Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) . In a previous blog, I mentioned this amazing woman and her delightful poems and writings. Until her death, Amy oversaw a ministry in India that focused on rescuing young girls from temple prostitution.

One evening a fellow worker brought to her a problem about a younger person who was missing the way of love. This led to Amy having a wakeful night. In her words, “…At such times I always wonder, ‘Lord, is it I? Have I failed her anywhere? What do I know of Calvary Love?'”

And then, sentence by sentence, the “If’s” came to her, almost as if spoken aloud to the inner ear.

The next morning Amy shared them with another (they had been written down in pencil in the night), and then with a few others. After this some copies were printed on the ministry’s (Dohnavur Fellowship) little hand printing press for her co-workers only; and that led to the words spreading.

At first when others asked for it, she felt, “No, it is far too private for that.” But then it was decided that “…If it can help any to understand what the life of love means and to live that life, then it is not ours to refuse.”

Some of the “If’s” appear to be related to pride, selfishness, or cowardice, but digging deeper the reader stumbles upon an unsuspected lovelessness at the root of them all.

Explaining the often misunderstood “Then I know nothing…” phrase, Amy comments: “And in case any true follower be troubled by the ‘then I know nothing’ phrase, I would say, the thought came in this form, and I fear to weaken it…The soul, suddenly illuminated by some fresh outshining of the knowledge of the love of God shown forth on Calvary, does not stop to measure how much or how little it knew of that love before. Penetrated, melted, broken before that vision of love, it feels that indeed all it ever knew was nothing, less than nothing.”

Here is the poem “If…” May it inspire us to a quest to know the love of Jesus as the foundation for all missions efforts done in Jesus’ name.

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I find myself taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, “Just what I expected” if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand,” or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I crave hungrily to be used to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; if I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that to another the word of release may be given, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or if it does, is never given room there; if the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God.

— Dave Shive

“I Don’t Care for What I Have to Do”

My current line of thinking has been prompted by the acquisition of a little Carmichael booklet titled “His Thoughts Said…His Father Said…”
This is the first of a couple of blogs on the writings of Amy Carmichael. If you are unfamiliar with this amazing woman, you can Google her name and familiarize yourself with her writings and legacy. The Wikipedia article is a good starting place.

Like pretty much anything Amy has ever penned, this booklet is deep, comprehensible, practical, thought-provoking, and convicting. Amy was a missionary to India and her writings capture the necessity of followers of Jesus truly grasping the basic elements of the Cross if he work of the gospel is to advance.

In this posting, I want to comment on this new booklet. To begin, permit me to explain the title.

The first part of the title (“His Thoughts Said”) is in reference to the way followers of Jesus might reason things out in their mind. At times Carmichael alternates that with the phrase “The son said…”, the son being me or you. So the person “His” or “Son” could be any of us, male or female, as we seek to follow Jesus while confronted with our humanness. This could refer to our thoughts about life, or it could be our statements and complaints to God.

The second part of the title (“His Father Said”) is God’s response to our thoughts as he dialogues with us. The thought goes something like this: “When I think some of my ridiculously selfish thoughts, how might God respond?”

Here is a sample of how this book goes. This selection is titled “Like a Flint” and it is reading #68 on page 44. Where it says “The Son Said” you may re-word that to put your name in or simply say “I Said.”

THE SON SAID: “I am nothing.”

HIS FATHER SAID: “Did I ever tell you that you were something?”

THE SON SAID: “But I do not feel fit for this that is given for me to do.”

HIS FATHER SAID: “Can you not trust me to make you fit?”

THE SON SAID: “But I am not successful.”

HIS FATHER SAID: “At the end of the day, will my word be, ‘Come good and successful servant’? If only you will walk humbly with your God it will be, ‘Come, good and faithful servant.'”

THE SON SAID: “But I do not care for what I have to do.”

HIS FATHER SAID: “At last you have touched the root of the matter. Did your Savior ‘care for’ Calvary?”

Next entry: Amy Carmichael’s best-known and most challenging poem.

— Dave Shive


While traveling last summer, Kathy and I met up with a dear friend and supporter for lunch. As we sat down to eat, this friend looked at me and said, “I have just one question. What is it that you do?” This guy must have really trusted us to be supporting us even though he has little idea what we do!

Fast forward to January, 2014. While speaking at a nearby church, I was enjoying a conversation with another old friend in the church’s foyer. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when this fellow looked me in the eye and said, “You know, I get your newsletters and read them. And I have one question for you: Just what is it that you do?”

Well, not being quick on the uptake, it gradually occurred to me that maybe what is so crystal clear to me might not be so clear to others.

And I won’t even tell you about the glazed-eye look that I get when I encounter strangers who ask me, “What do you do for a living?” A bead of sweat appears on my upper lip, I shift my feet nervously, and my voice begins to quaver as I begin: “Er…um…I work with churches…” (I can see that they immediately regret asking the question; my eye twitches nervously) “…to mobilize them to use their resources more effectively…” (at this point, they gaze into the distance) “…to fulfill the Great Commission” (some suddenly remember an urgent meeting and excuse themselves while I collapse from sheer exhaustion. My shirt is drenched in sweat. I retreat to the secret place in my mind where all is well).

As I recover from another painful attempt to explain my vocation, it becomes apparent to me that I need to rethink my whole approach to telling people “what I do.” 

If my work is important, I surely need to be able to explain it clearly. So let’s see here…

Mobilize – the term seems very straightforward – “to assemble or marshal individuals or groups into active service.”

Church – “the body of Christian believers”

Resources – “available supplies that can be readily drawn upon when needed”

Great Commission – (No, the Great Commission is not 30%) “to make disciples of all ethnic groups”

So, what do I do? I marshal members of the body of Christian believers to draw upon all available supplies to make disciples of all ethnic groups.

Reading this seems so understandable that I am beginning to wonder if people are not so much confused by what a mobilizer does as by how mobilizing is done. How does one “marshal members of the body of Christian believers to draw upon all available supplies to make disciples of all ethnic groups”? Now there is an avenue for discussion.

How does one mobilize? By drawing on the available stash of supplies (time, energy, education, personal passion, knowledge, gifts network of contacts, relationships) to make disciples (teach, preach, one-on-one times, breakfasts, lunches, seminars, workshops, Sunday school and Perspectives classes) who will make disciples so that all ethnic groups may be discipled.

Sounds simple, right? So, the next time someone asks you “What does a mobilizer do?” – just look them boldly in the eye, confidently answer, and expect to hear them respond, “Ah! That makes perfectly good sense!” That’s how you do it!

“Christopher J. H. Wright: The Mission of God” (Part IV)

It is not my intent in this last blog on Christopher Wright’s amazing book to exhaustively analyze all aspects of the book. I doubt that is really necessary and, anyway, that’s already been done.

If you are interested in a thorough evaluation of this book, I recommend the review on the “9 Marks” website by Mike GilbartSmith: http://www.9marks.org/books/book-review-mission-god. I especially appreciate the questions GilbartSmith raises concerning Wright’s methodology and theological presuppositions.

A fair analysis of any book must examine perceived weaknesses as well as obvious strengths. From my perspective, these perceived weaknesses deserve analysis and yet they don’t undermine my basic contention that “The Mission of God” is a quintessential resource for anyone who wishes to seriously mine the unsearchable riches of Scripture for God’s story about his mission to make his Son famous in a fallen world.

Here are four things that I especially like about Wright’s approach:

1. Wright is persuasive in developing the principle that a missiology without a strong Old Testament foundation will be a weak missiology. Though Wright has been criticized for his heavy emphasis on the Old Testament in the development of his theology, hermeneutics, and missiology, I personally find this the most attractive aspect of Wright’s work.

In working with churches as a missions mobilizer, I have recognized a deficiency in good teaching and in the Old Testament. On more than one occasion I have asked students in a class to give me an Old Testament verse on missions, only to be met with blank stares.

Of the roughly 2,000 (!) Scripture references listed in the “Scripture Index” at the back of the book, almost 2/3 are from the Old Testament. This may be expected due to Wright’s expertise as an OT scholar, but it is nevertheless refreshing to see the OT being used to establish the foundation for an undertaking (i.e., missions) that is normally assumed by most believers to be a New Testament innovation. (I sometimes wonder if we don’t think the Great Commission was an afterthought of Jesus…as if as he was preparing to ascend to heaven he suddenly paused, turned to his disciples, and said: “Oh guys. By the way, I almost forgot to tell you…Go and make disciples…”)

2. I appreciate the thoroughness and painstaking efforts Wright demonstrates in laying his foundation by beginning with hermeneutics. His discussions of hermeneutics in the earlier part of the book are extremely valuable, both for his conclusions but also for his methodology.

3. I love Wright’s ability to integrate God’s heart, missions, and a respect for the environment. He ably demonstrates this integration in his analysis of OT texts. This is sorely needed, not just an emphasis on good environmental practices, but a rigorous, robust theo-ecology based on a serious examination of the Scriptures.

4. I appreciate the fact that Wright continually emphasizes the role of the people of God as an elect community in carrying out God’s mission. This is so important to his missiology that he has produced a companion book, “The Mission of God’s People,” to highlight the priority of God’s people in carrying out his mission.

Well, there you have it. Go and buy this book if you want to ground your missiology in Scripture! – Dave

“Christopher Wright: ‘The Mission of God'” (Part III)

This is the third in a series of blogs where I seek to draw attention to a man who I consider to be one of the central figures in the field of biblical studies, particularly with a focus the missiological theme of the Bible. Chris Wright’s influence in my life is immense, and his impact in other lives is surely incalculable if the amount of material he has in print is any indication.

Those readers who have taken the course called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” know that the first lesson in that course is titled “The Living God is a Missionary God.” That is a ground-breaking concept if one can fully embrace it. To see God as a missionary (as opposed to only seeing ourselves as missionaries) and God’s missional focus on the exaltation of his Son’s glory (as opposed to the traditional way of seeing missions as focused on people and their need) is a breakthrough concept that revolutionized my life, the way I study the Bible, and my ministry.

Wright’s vision is not simply to talk about the Bible but to provide the hermeneutical tools (i.e., resources to make Bible interpretation sound) required to go deep into God’s story. The scope of his undertaking is daunting, and amazingly, he pulls it off (not without some problems, of course, but what book of this scope could be deemed flawless?).

For a simply outstanding review of one’s book, try this link – http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2012/11/26/mission-monday-the-mission-of-god-by-christopher-wright/

Here is how one reviewer summarizes Wright’s method: ” In other words, instead of searching the Scriptures with a flashlight hoping to shine light on ‘mission’ wherever it may be found, Wright believes mission is the flashlight that illuminates the whole Bible.”

I really like that summary because it encapsulates everything that Wright is trying to do. His is an entirely different approach than what is taught as standard hermeneutics in Bible college and seminary. Wright used to search for “the biblical basis for missions” but now is on a quest to discover “the missional basis of the Bible” (p. 22).

For me personally, Wright came into my life like gangbusters. After taking Perspectives in 1986, and then teaching the “The Living God is a Missionary God” lesson a zillion times in the next 25 years or so, I was pretty grounded in the biblical perspective of God’s mission. But I never in my wildest imagination thought that I would come across anything as comprehensive as Wright’s magical volume which was released in 2006, nor did I dream that it could enhance even more what has been the focus of my study in life.

Coming next: A deeper look at “The Mission of God” and some comments on its strengths and deficiencies. – Dave Shive

“Christopher Wright, Recipient of the Mantle of John Stott” – Part II

This is Part II of a series of blogs concerning the prolific author, Old Testament scholar, and unabashed missiologist, Christopher J. J. Wright. All enterprising missiologists would do well to become acquainted with this significant man.

Wright is a prolific author, and his writings carry the marks of scholarship, missiology, and passion for God and for God’s people. He is an ordained Anglican Church of England clergyman. Though my main objective is to highlight his writings, a little background to this man is important.

Wright spent five years teaching the Old Testament in India, and thirteen years as Academic Dean and then Principal of All Nations Christian College, in England. Since 2001, Christopher Wright has served as the International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership. “Langham Partnership” may sound like an arcane title for an obscure ministry, but it’s roots are quite profound. To appreciate Wright, a little background to his current ministry is vital.

If I were to mention the name “John Stott,” we might feel on more familiar ground. Stott’s writings and ministry have profoundly marked the evangelical landscape for over 50 years.

For over six decades, Stott was rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London. Religion scholar, Michael Cromartie, once remarked that if evangelicals could elect a pope, they would likely choose John Stott who, as an author, preacher and theologian, was often compared to the Rev. Billy Graham. Stott died in July of 2011 at the age of 90. He once wrote: “We must be global Christians with a global mission, because our God is a global God.”

Because of the popularity of his writings and public ministry, Stott launched the original trust fund (“Langham Partnership”) in 1969 to foster the growth of the global church in maturity and Christ-likeness by raising the standards of biblical preaching and teaching through equipping Majority World Christian pastors, scholars, writers, publishers, and other key leaders.

Wright’s s job as International Director is to represent and promote the vision and work of the Langham Partnership around the world. He does this through his international travel, speaking, and writing ministry.

The philosophy of this ministry is simply called “the Langham Logic.” It has three pillars:
1. God wants his church to grow up to maturity.
2. The people of God grow through the Word of God.
3. The Word of God comes to people mainly (not exclusively) through biblical preaching.

In coming blogs, I intend to expose readers to the world of Christopher Wright through greater awareness of his writings. Hopefully this little background fills in the missing pieces about this man to give greater appreciation for his contributions to world of missions.

Dave Shive

Missions in Deuteronomy?

A few years ago, I stumbled across a notice that there would be a seminar offered at the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut. The topic was “Missions in Deuteronomy” and it was being taught by a guy named Christopher Wright. Actually, his name is “Christopher H. J. Wright.”

Which raises an interesting question – what us it with the Brits and their cool names with multiple initials? C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, N.T. Wright, Christopher H.J. Wright.

Anyway, the seminar invitation caught me off-guard and intrigued me. The title of the seminar, for starters, piqued my curiosity. “Missions in Deuteronomy.” Yes, now you’ve got my attention.

Then there was the author. It had not been that long ago that I had purchased a copy of Wright’s magisterial “The Mission of God” and set out to devour it. (I use the term “magisterial” in the best sense of the word – i.e., authoritative, weighty, of consequence.) I had come to love and admire his writing style, insights, passion for the OT, and scholarship. Wright has a PhD. from Cambridge University and has written extensively on the Old Testament and missions. And the comprehensive nature of “MofG” had me hooked.

So off to Connecticut I went for a few days of idyllic study. I had never met Wright before and couldn’t wait to sit under his tutelage.

Let me explain this blog and the ones to follow. My passion is for budding missiologists and followers of Jesus to go deeper in the Scriptures so that our missiology is grounded in the Bible. Thus my blogs tend to drill down in areas of missions that I think are important and tend to be neglected. Because of this passion, I want those who follow this blog – are there three of you? – to become familiar with Christopher Wright and his contributions to the study of missions in the Bible, especially the OT.

My experience at the seminar in New Haven was precisely what I would have expected from my readings of Wright’s books. It was scholarly and insightful. In addition, Wright was an effective communicator. Most of all, I left New Haven with a desire to master the theme of missions as found in the book of Deuteronomy.

Because he is so influential and has so much to offer, I want to introduce readers of this blog to Christopher H.J. Wright. If you want to increase your passion for God’s heart through mastering the text of the Bible, Wright has a lot to offer you.

…To be continued…

– Dave Shive

“Going Missiologically Deeper in God’s Word in 2014”

It’s that time of year when Bible reading plans begin surfacing on Facebook and other places. It is great that there are so many different plans that challenge and encourage people to read through the Bible in a year. And it’s axiomatic that a solid grounding in God’s Word is essential if our missiology is to be sound. So this is good. I am filled with admiration for those who follow through on these plans.

But I must confess that in over six decades of life on earth I have never read through the Bible in a year (gasp!). I have at times started such ambitious plans but never completed one. I think I now understand why those kinds of plans don’t work for me.

As we approach a New Year, going DEEPER in God’s Word is on my mind, not going BROADER. So this post is devoted to my passion: challenging friends and budding missiologists to make 2014 a year of going deeper in God’s Word.

Perhaps you may feel like those water spiders who flit across the surface of a stream. You may have been skating on the surface of the Bible without digging in and gaining depth.

Wouldn’t you rather be like a gopher in 2014? Do you have a hunger for to spend 12 months in the subterranean chambers of God’s Word? If so, I want to offer an alternative approach.

What follows is a modest proposal for a different kind of Bible reading plan for 2014. It is aimed at the adventure of going deeper. And because most Christians gravitate towards the New Testament, all of my proposals will focus on digging deeper into the Old Testament (though you may apply the same general suggestions I am making to the New Testament). I will offer some hypothetical strategies to illustrate how my model might work.

A key is to figure out a plan of attack that is manageable for 12 months or 52 weeks.

The idea behind my plan is to master a section of the Bible in a year. Animals are often territorial. With this plan, you can mark out your own territory by claiming a portion of the Bible for mastery in 2014.

For instance, you could seek to “master” the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) in 2014. This plan could involved spending 10 weeks on each book, allowing the last two weeks of the year to focus on Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2, the birth narratives of Jesus.

Or you could focus on the mastery of one book of the Bible in a year. For example, Genesis has 50 chapters and there are 52 weeks in the year. What if you spent one week in each chapter of Genesis? That would leave the last two weeks of the year to focus on Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2, the birth narratives of Jesus. Or you could take a mid-year 2-week break from Genesis to study Philippians.

Or Jeremiah has 52 chapters, a perfect book for a one-year study!

If you’re interested, my plan for 2014 is to master the book of Deuteronomy. I have already spent the month of December getting traction in this amazing book. I have assembled a veritable plethora of tools and am getting incredible insights on God’s mission through mastery of this incredible book.

Or you could focus on mastering a small portion of the Bible in a year. Of course, the portion would have to be rich enough that a year of study would yield great benefit. A great illustration of such a portion would be Ezra and Nehemiah. These two books contain a total of 23 chapters, allowing one to study two chapters a month. By this plan, one could spend January studying the background of these two books as well as getting into Ezra 1. The remaining eleven months could be devoted to studying two chapters a month.

One last idea would be to strive for mastery over a combination of sections of the Bible in a year. A good illustration of this method would be to select the Psalms of Ascents (Psalm 120-134). That is 15 psalms containing a total of 101 verses (which doesn’t even work out to an average of two verses a week!). The shortest each have three verses (Psalm 131, 133, 134) and the longest has 18 (Psalm 134).

Some parting ideas…

Having one or more good “tools” to help you through the year can provide a vital supplement that will enrich your work. This often may be a good commentary. But remember, not all commentaries are created equal. There are “good” commentaries that may not enable you to go deeper. If you have picked a portion to study and would like a recommendation on good supplemental tools, feel free to contact me for suggestions.

Regardless of how you approach study in 2014, one tool I can wholeheartedly recommend is Christopher Wright’s “The Mission of God.” This volume is the most incredible tool I have encountered for discovering missiological insight and depth in Scripture. It is especially strong in the Old Testament. Using Wright’s book as a companion to your studies would be invaluable.

Be sure to set a schedule for the year and stick it when possible, but do not be a slave to it.

Remember to follow your interests. If a verse or topic you are studying piques your curiosity and you want to probe it more deeply, by all means do it. Rabbit trails are perfectly acceptable if they facilitate your going deeper in the Bible.

My passion and mission is to excite people about the Bible so that they can have an encounter with the missionary God whose story is found there. If you want to dialogue on any aspect of this by e-mail, don’t hesitate to contact me.

I hope to follow up this post with further thoughts and idea on going deeper in God’s Word in 2014.

Go deep!