Mike Pohlman

Senior Pastor of Immanuel Bible Church in Bellingham, WA

I love the thought of the gospel marching triumphantly around the globe as God in Christ is building His church (Cf., Matt. 16:18). And I am particularly moved by this reality today as a team from our church left this morning for Peru to minister to hundreds of local pastors and their families. The third annual Amazon Mission Festival sponsored by JungleMaster Ministries is officially underway (see overview video below).

This ministry of outreach, encouragement, and equipping is a powerful reminder that the gospel knows no borders. God will be “exalted among the nations” (Ps. 46:10) and He is using short-term ministry teams like ours to accomplish this ultimate end in the farthest reaches of the earth. Indeed, this is why missions exists. Taking his cue from the Lord’s Prayer, this is how John Piper explains it:


The first two petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are perhaps the clearest statement of all in the teachings of Jesus that missions is driven by the passion of God to be glorified among the nations. “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:9-10). Here Jesus teaches us to ask God to hallow his name and to make his kingdom come. This is a missionary prayer. Its aim is to engage the passion of God for his name among those who forget or revile the name of God (Psalm 9:17; 74:18). To hallow God’s name means to put it in a class by itself and to cherish and honor it above every claim to our allegiance or affection. Jesus’ primary concern–the very first petition of the prayer he teaches–is that more and more people, and more and more peoples, come to hallow God’s name. This is the reason the universe exists. Missions exists because this hallowing doesn’t (Let the Nations be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, p. 35). 

Would you join me in praying for our Peru mission team by name? Please pray that Ben, Billy, Joel, Linda, Lee, Paul, Jamie, and Tom would be an incredibly effective contribution to the exaltation of God among the nations.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name among the people of the third annual Amazon Mission Festival and among the churches each person represents. May Your kingdom come in power over the next several days in the jungles of the Amazon. Be glorified among these people as Your name is sanctified, cherished, and honored! In the name above all names, the sovereign One over the nations, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.”

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail

 

I was recently made aware of a Newsweek article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali entitled, “The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World.” Ms. Ali is deeply concerned about the fact that across the Muslim world, Christians are being murdered for their faith. Here’s how she opens:

We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.

The author proceeds to give examples of this rising genocide in nations like Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, and Iran. To this Ali concludes:

It should be clear from this catalog of atrocities that anti-Christian violence is a major and underreported problem. No, the violence isn’t centrally planned or coordinated by some international Islamist agency. In that sense the global war on Christians isn’t a traditional war at all. It is, rather, a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities.

I am grateful for this article because it is helping bring the very real tragedy of Christian persecution to people beyond the Christian community (remember this is Newsweek notChristianity Today). And I certainly share the author’s outrage at the apparent “conspiracy of silence” surrounding the “bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other.” However, I do part with Ms. Ali when she warns that, “Nothing less than the fate of Christianity . . . in the Islamic world is at stake.”

The Lord Jesus Christ promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). And I know that Christ’s church will consist of a “people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). The Lamb was not slain in vain and no level of persecution — however horrific — will thwart God’s plan to build His church.

So even as we work and pray for the protection of God’s people around the world, we do so knowing that the kingdom of God is on an irreversible, triumphant march around the globe. Indeed, the fate of Christianity depends not on the end of persecution, but on the power of God.

Facebook, the Church, and Reality

I really appreciate Russell Moore's ministry. I had the privilege of serving as his producer on many of the radio broadcasts he did when filling in for Albert Mohler on "The Albert Mohler Program."And the thing I appreciated most about our "Moore Shows" (other than the bumper music) was the way Dr. Moore so naturally took a secular news story and applied it to the church. Indeed, rare is the person who can see something going on the culture and draw out an important lesson for the church.

Today I noticed Dr. Moore picking up on a Slate.com article titled "The Anti-Social Network" (I saw this, ironically, on Facebook). Moore suggests the church has some lessons to learn from the way Facebook may actually be perpetuating people's sadness. (According to the Slate article, Facebook does this by only, or at least largely, accentuating the positive in people's lives making those that are suffering feel deeply alone. In other words, as people log in to Facebook they see so much virtual happiness, that they become "vulnerable to keeping up with what they imagine is the happiness of the Jonses.")

So what does the church need to do in the face of so much virtual "chipperness"? More suggests,

Nobody is as happy as he seems on Facebook. And no one is as "spiritual" as he seems in what we deem as "spiritual" enough for Christian worship. Maybe what we need in our churches is more tears, more failure, more confession of sin, more prayers of desperation that are too deep for words.

Yes. For in doing so we model more accurately reality rather than leave people in, what is oftentimes, the unreality of Facebook. And by doing this we have the opportunity to bring the gospel to bear on people's suffering so that real joy and peace in Christ is experienced.

Be sure to read Moore's whole post here.

"Staggering the Moral Imagination"

An recent article in The New York Times highlights the "chilling" abortion rate in New York City. And it has the attention of the city's religious leaders: 

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York joined other local religious leaders on Thursday in calling for a new effort to reduce the number of abortions in the city. The annual figure has averaged 90,000 in recent years, or about 40 percent of all pregnancies, twice the national rate. The archbishop, at a news conference in Manhattan, called the citywide statistics "downright chilling." 

Albert Mohler puts these startling statistics in the context of the national abortion rate of 22 percent, while reminding us that in 2008 (the last year full numbers are available) 1.2 million abortions were performed in the United States. Mohler is helpful in raising our view beyond New York City when he observes that, "The abortion rate in New York City staggers the moral imagination, but the abortion rate nationwide is itself 'chilling.'"

 

I'm writing this post even as this morning I learned that members of our church just became grandparents for the fourth time with the birth of baby Luke. And a young couple in our church is due with their first baby any day now. There is awful irony in a fallen world where there coexists the joyful embrace of new life and the mass killing of the unborn. Indeed, Mohler is right when he laments that "we are a murderous people, and the blood of the innocent cries out for justice." 

 

On January 23 we will recognize the annual Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. My hope and prayer is that God will awaken His church to labor for life well beyond that day.  

 

About Mike Pohlman

Mike serves as the senior pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Bellingham, Washington. Mike is a former church planter in the Pacific Northwest, and served for three years as the executive producer of The Albert Mohler Program, a nationally syndicated radio show dedicated to Christianity and culture. Mike has a PhD in American church history from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mike is husband to Julia and father to four wonderful children: Samuel (12), Anna (10), John (9) and Michael (4). When not pastoring, Mike loves sports, music, and hanging out with his family.

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