Author Archives: John Wilburn

Missions is Checking In

A few weeks ago I was sitting in a kitchen after teaching an eschatology class when a friend in Barrouallie called. She asked if everything was okay because I hadn’t been by to see her as usual on Monday.

I apologised to her, and explained the class kept me from visiting regularly. After hanging up I put my face in my hands and groaned.

There’s a lot of things I do very well, communicating with people isn’t one of them. It isn’t that I don’t want to communicate, usually I just forget to do it like a few weeks ago. When life gets busy, communication with others through text, or phone call doesn’t seem important.

The problem is it’s incredibly important

During the global pandemic people just don’t gather as much as they used to. This means it’s easy for some individuals to be suffering, and nobody knows.

I recently was having a conversation with a friend who was frustrated that friends don’t check in on each other anymore

  1. They don’t call to see how things are going
  2. They don’t make sure they have necessary things like food
  3. They don’t come to visit

Now more than ever before its important to make a habit of “checking in” with people

And often thats through a phone call, or text message.

Checking in digitally is a small thing, so it’s easy to think it doesn’t make a difference at all. But we have all had friends whose text message, or quick phone call have brightened our day. Or got that call out of the blue to say “I’m praying for you.”

These loving messages are a HUGE form of ministry!

I put my head in my hands because I kew that I’d dropped the ball…..

A sister in Christ had been waiting for my weekly visit, and I never came.

She was waiting for my usual text messages, but her phone was silent.

I’m grateful for the conviction God brought to my heart that moment, because it reminded me just how important daily affirmation and encouragement online is.

Missions is Reading the Bible Slowly, and Repeatedly

Last month I read the short book “how to eat your bible” by Nate Pickowicz. It’s an excellent resource on basic homiletics (how to study the Bible), but his main point is what made the book so powerful for me.

Pickowicz shared how like many, his devotional life used to be dry, lifeless, and inconsistent. He had no love for Scripture! After God convicted him about this, he went home and opened a MacArthur study bible his father had given him.

In it he found what John Macarthur’s Bible reading program that focuses on reading a book of the Bible every day for thirty days.

Here’s how he explains it……

“My method when I was in seminary was to read 1 John every day for thirty days. You can do it this way, too. The first day just read 1 John all the way through. It will take you only 25 or 30 minutes. The idea is to read it through the first day, then on the second day read it through again; on the third day, read it through again….Basically, this is what I do all the time. As I prepare messages, I just read through the particular Bible book over and over again until the whole book fills my mind in a kind of visual perception. I would also suggest that you take a three-by-five card and write down the major theme of each chapter.” – How to Study the Bible, pages 111-112

The author in his book breaks this reading program down to taking around seven years.

I know what you’re thinking…….

How could I take seven years to read the Bible???

The beauty of this program is the goal isn’t just reading the Bible through, but actually internalising, and meditating on what the Bible says.

Pastor Pickowicz throughout the book says reading the Bible through in a year is a good goal. However to do this, we usually end up reading very quickly. He explains it as “glancing a truth”. So it’s easy for the busyness of the day, or other issues to push that truth from our minds.

However reading the same passage every day for thirty days is closely examining the truth instead of just giving it a casual glance. Over that time, we will begin to understand everything that book teaches, and be able to apply it to life.

Sunday I finished my 30-day reading of 1 Timothy, and began 2 Timothy (started slightly late). After doing this for a month, along with the author, I can tell you Scripture becomes sweeter as you meditate upon it more.

Reading the Bible through in a year is not a bad goal.

But for those who have done it many times, closely examining Scripture one book at a time is a better goal

Missions is Losing Your American Weight

A few weeks after coming back from my medical furlough, I came to the Bible College in order to deliver some things. The school secretary hearing my voice walked out to say good morning, but when she saw me stopped, and her mouth dropped open.

“You look…different” she said slowly.

I smiled and said “you mean fat!”

Since that time the majority of my the weight I gained during my time in the States has been lost. The header picture was taken last weekend, you can compare it with the one taken the morning I flew back to SVG below.

Step one of the losing my American weight (slimming down) is close to complete, so I’lll shortly begin step two which focuses on strength training.

Missions has taught me that effectiveness means having a strong body, mind, and spiritual life.

It’s interesting that the discipline of physical strength is often overlooked. But a strong commitment to the Lord (spiritual life) and vision for ministry (mental life) is little good if my body is out of energy after a short walk.

For me personally having a strong body is hard because being skinny here is easy 1. But there is a difference between being skinny, and being strong.

The strength training of losing my American weight is something I’m definitely not looking forward to. It revolves around a home exercise program that hurts a lot! But over time that pain will build stronger muscles, that can climb the hills of Barrouallie with the Gospel of Christ.

So the strength training starts today

Because life’s too short to do Gods work with a weak body

  1. You walk a lot, and sweat in the hot sun

Missions is Investing in People

Tomorrow I finish my last day of teaching an Eschatology class at Baptist Bible College of the Caribbean (final exam is Friday). It’s been a wonderful experience, but my energy is usually low on the ride home.

During the first few classes I stopped at a local supermarket to buy a coke ($3.50 East Caribbean dollars, $1.30 US), and often stopped at another one to buy some cakes on the way in for $2.00 EC.

This isn’t a lot obviously, the cakes and coke are just over $2 a day! And after a solid morning of teaching, I definitely deserve the treat.

But other than one pack of cookies for $2 East Caribbean dollars, I haven’t spent any money on snacks.

This isn’t because I couldn’t afford it……

It’s because ministering to others with that money is a far better investment.

  1. Last weekend I drove a friend to an area two-hours away because he needed to meet people there, and public transport doesn’t go that far often
  2. Saturday I’m taking some young people on a celebration trip for graduating from High School. We will have a nice meal (my treat of course), drive up to the other side of the island, and take lots of pictures
  3. And Friday I’m taking the college students out for their traditional meal celebrating the end of our class

Obviously road trips, celebrations, and lunches are amazing ministry opportunities. But they also cost money.

Because ministry costs money, I therefore choose to live simply.

Living simply is just a nicer way of saying cheap :-). It means living without things like coke, cookies, or ice-cream so that more money can be given towards others.

Living simply is difficult sometimes. But the rewards of being invested in others is well worth the sacrifice.

The four hour drive with a friend gave us lots of time to talk about what the Lord is doing in our lives, and what He wanted us to do in the future. We spent almost a whole tank of gas, but the conversation itself was well worth the money spent.

Things like coke and cookies aren’t sinful, but they’re gone in a moment. Investing our money in helping others draw closer to the Lord will outlive our earthy influence.

Missions is Interpreting Scripture with Scripture

For the past two weeks I’ve been teaching a class on Eschatology (the study of end times) at a local Bible College. While all classes are enjoyable, this one was especially fun for me.

When dealing with the Tribulation, lots of tough questions arise

  1. What is the Abomination of Desolation?
  2. What Is the mark of the beast? And why does it use the number 666?
  3. If someone rejects the Gospel before the rapture, can they get saved in the Tribulation?
  4. Can Matthew 24:40-41 refer to the rapture when the immediate context clearly refers to the Jews?
  5. And what does it mean when Scripture says the Holy Spirit “he who hinders” will be removed in the Tribulation?

When wrestling with these, and other hard questions I keep coming back to a foundational view of Biblical interpretation…

We interpret Scripture with Scripture

This means we observe and study the passage itself instead of sharing our own opinions about what it means. Scripture interprets itself as we look for repeated words and phrases, as well as the major theme/focus of the passage.

Each of the above questions, and many others were much easier to understand when we looked at the ENTIRE PASSAGE, and then thought about the truth God had emphasised In it.

The true importance of interpreting Scripture with Scripture is the other option is much more dangerous.

If I don’t interpret a passage with its context, then it’s interpreted with my own ideas. And we can very easily emphasise secondary things, while ignoring the passages main truth.

Last week we had a great discussion about the mark of the beast, and “666” in Revelation 13. One of the students thought the number in particular had to be very significant. But as we looked through the passage, it became clear the beasts marking was secondary.

The primary truth was the Anti-Christs demand that all of the people in the world worship him. This demand came from Satan, who from the very beginning, wanted to be “like the most high.”

So what does the number 666 mean?

Listen to me very carefully….

we don’t know!

And thats okay, because God didn’t emphasise that in Scripture. If He wanted us to make the number of the beast an emphasis, the Lord would have put it in more Scripture.

God does not need me to speak for Him. If I study His word, the Holy Spirit promises to reveal His truth.

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