Published by Mark Morris on 12 May 2016

Refugee Memphis Launch


In Athens the Apostle Paul found an altar with an inscription to an unknown god. As he preached the gospel of Jesus to the Athenians he chided them for worshiping an obscure god with no name. How much better, Paul explained, to worship the true Lord of heaven and earth. In fact, Paul described God as orchestrating the allotted times of our lives, and even the boundaries of nations. As we see the international crisis today unfold, we might ask, Why does God work in this way?

Paul answers: So that people everywhere “should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each of us.” (Acts 17:27, ESV).

Recently God has redrawn our “allotted times and boundaries.” He has led us to a new season of ministry among refugees, whose boundaries have certainly been upended!

Last month, we prayerfully chose to step away from a ministry and an organization that we have loved like family since 1983, The International Mission Board. Increasingly, Mark was spending half of his time in Richmond, Virginia — making work with internationals here unsustainable.

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Published by Mark Morris on 30 Jan 2016

1 Peter 2 – Taste Him

Today as I reflected on events in the world and in my own life I was reminded of some guidance from 1 Peter 2. Whenever we read the Word we need to read it in context.

Keep it in Perspective

The hostile context of the recipients of 1 Peter reminds me that we need to keep all things in perspective. 1 Peter was written to first-century Christians who were under attack on all fronts, because of the gospel. The believers who read Peter’s epistle were discouraged, above and beyond the kind of discouragement and frustration you and I face as a result of illness, job changes, or relational trials, etc.  Those believers were attacked by persecution for their faith. I have seen persecution for faith firsthand and dare not compare that kind of persecution for witness under oppression to the normal difficulties associated with life after the Fall. The message of 1 Peter is directed to faithful witnesses under fatally hostile times, but that advice is timeless and applicable in many circumstances.

Let’s compare — As my wife went through three rounds of chemo over several years, we often reminded ourselves that compared to Jesus’ suffering for our sins, our temporary suffering was merely a painful inconvenience. It was a horrible experience in every way. We don’t minimize the horror of chemo and near-death battles that my wife faced on her journey of suffering and healing. However, we knew that she would be healed in this life, or in the next. Either now or later, her healing would be victorious and glorifying to Jesus. In suffering, we clung to God’s goodness and to the Living Hope of Jesus.

We must daily remember to keep a kingdom perspective on whatever trials we face. My troubles in this life have rarely been a result of persecution for my faith. My troubles in this life are temporary, limited and tiny in comparison to Jesus’ suffering or the brutal persecution of our brothers and sisters who have died as witnesses in hostile times and places.

Just Taste Him

The epistle of 1 Peter instructed believers to remember the taste of Jesus. Following some potent instructions (1:13-25) to be holy, and to fix our hope completely on the grace of Jesus, 1 Peter 2:4 instructs us to “come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious (ESV).”

He builds this instruction off the image in verse 2 of a newborn baby who tastes mother’s milk and whines and wails, yearning for the taste and the filling associated with that milk. Why should we yearn for the milk of the Lord? Because we have “tasted that the Lord is good.” Every challenge I’ve ever faced has drawn me to the tasty presence of the Lord. If Peter’s advice was good for Christians under the persecuting fires of first century faith, it’s good medicine for the small sufferings I face as a fallen man living in a fallen world.

I remember the taste of Jesus. I’ve experienced the nourishment — especially in challenging times. I need Him now more than ever.

Come to the Living Stone

We, as tiny stones, when assembled around the Living Stone are “built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5, ESV). So my purpose and my joy and my strength and my hope is not in me, my company, my career, my success.  It’s in my connection to Him – the Living Stone.

I Peter 2:10 is a reminder that God chose a people who were not even a people. Kinda like me — I’m nothing and nobody apart from Jesus. The Israelites were nothing and God made them a people of blessing for all peoples. In spite of being nothing, “now you have received mercy (ESV).” That mercy is at the empty cross of the living Lord – the Living Stone.

Whatever you face — come to Jesus – the Living Stone.


More later on the living stone. 


Published by Mark Morris on 18 Jan 2016

Missions Intensive – RDU

If you are a pastor who wants to start at the beginning of biblical foundations of mission and move toward building your church mission strategy, grab a couple of leaders and make plans to attend the upcoming Missions Intensive in Raleigh Durham area.

David Platt and J.D. Greear will be leading, along with some global missions experts. For more information visit the web site.

Learn about the state of the Kingdom of God around the world. Pray together with other pastors regarding your church’s part in God’s advance in the world. Attend breakout sessions to explore practical handles on your church’s plans and strategies.

More Missions Intensives scheduled for Louisville, Nashville and Riverside, Ca.



Published by Mark Morris on 16 May 2015

FAQs on IMB Missionary Qualifications

There is great excitement about this week’s simplified, and clarified policy changes which pave the way for David Platt’s challenge to send limitless Christian Workers throughout the world. The following FAQs clarify some of the questions that have risen. See the IMB’s explanation below.

IMB trustees established a policy to streamline guidelines for appointing new personnel within the framework of the Baptist Faith and Message during their May 12-13 meeting in Louisville, Ky. Below are questions and answers which may explain the changes.

Q: What is the central idea of the new policy?

A: The revised policy approved by IMB trustees on May 13 creates a single statement of qualifications that will characterize every missionary serving through any pathway created by IMB to mobilize more Southern Baptists to go to unreached peoples and places with the gospel.

Q: Why are you changing missionary qualifications?

A: As we look toward the future and the limitless number of missionaries we want to mobilize from Southern Baptist churches, we know that this will likely involve many new pathways through which men and women might serve on missionary teams through the IMB. Each of these pathways may carry unique qualifications, involve various types of training and include different levels of support from IMB. However, we have seen a foundational need for a simple, clear statement of qualifications that not only unifies all IMB missionaries together, but also unifies IMB with the churches and entities of the SBC.

Q: Sending limitless missionary teams is a big goal. How do you plan to achieve this?

A: IMB aims to provide multiple pathways in which members of Southern Baptist churches may serve on a missionary team.

When you hear pathways, think possibilities—all the possible ways that ordinary Christians might serve overseas: as church planters, doctors, teachers, accountants, lawyers, fitness instructors, rickshaw drivers, retirees, students and the list goes on and on. God has providentially arranged a multiplicity of avenues through which His people can take the gospel around the world, and as IMB, we want to help Southern Baptists go through as many of those pathways as possible.

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Published by Mark Morris on 10 Oct 2014

A Theology of Strategic Risk

Anthology Magazine of MissioNexus recently published an article I wrote on the issue of Strategic Risk and the theological and practical questions churches, agencies and missionaries face regarding Risk and the advance of the gospel.


“Two pressing questions drive the discussion. The first is personal: would our sovereign God knowingly direct us to engage in dangerous gospel witness, even to the point of death? The second question is institutional: How should the church and mission-sending institutions respond when the ones we send insist on obeying God’s direction, even when it means entering or remaining in harm’s way. The answer to both questions will have a drastic impact on the way we do missions. As we will see, Scripture and history are not silent in regards to costly mission.”

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Published by Mark Morris on 04 Oct 2014

Five Unanswered Questions in Missions

Five Unanswered Questions in 21st Century Missions:

  • How do we mobilize the whole Church with the whole gospel for the task remaining?
  • What are the scalable models of agency-served, effective local Church-based sending?
  • What are the solutions to the collaboration of marketplace and missionary?
  • How do we align virtual and presence strategies?
  • What is next after CPM?

Since 1983 I have been a participant in what might be classified as the modern missionary movement. As a participant I have started cross-cultural churches in various places in Africa, Asia, and the United States. As a student of missions and world religions and as an adjunct professor, my intrigue has only increased over historical mission strategy and unresolved strategic issues. Patterns of questions and problems arise in my own mind as I long for the completion of the task of global evangelism.

Numerous questions and mission issues plague us. However, five questions come to mind that continually bump into missionaries, strategists and scholars. At least, these are five questions, the solutions to which irritate and antagonize my pragmatism.

The first question is a matter of mobilization. Specifically, why are so few responding in obedience to the missionary mandate? What will it take to unclog the quagmire of churches that remain stagnant and unmoved by the Great Commission? What will unleash the next massive wave of missionaries unto the nations?

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Published by Mark Morris on 16 Sep 2014

David Platt – Last Sunday at Brook Hills

By a divinely orchestrated “accident,” I found myself at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham this past Sunday morning.

At the beginning of the service, I was delighted to witness our new 36-year-old IMB president baptize his son Caleb. When Platt came to Brook Hills 8 years ago, it was just David and Heather. Now there are six Platts, two of whom were adopted – including Caleb, from Kazakstan. The emotional baptism was followed by David Platt’s last sermon as pastor of the church. The mutual affection between pastor and parish was palatable. The service concluded with the Brook Hills faith family commissioning David as President of Southern Baptists’ International Mission Board.

Back to the sermon – Platt began his message openly pondering – What do I preach today – on this last day as your pastor? Appropriately God led him to 1 Corinthians 15.
David began reading from the first verse.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you.

Platt explained that in this chapter, Paul addressed three reasons to hold fast to the gospel with radical faith. It was not surprising that Platt’s final message and his passion for the author of that message would not vary at all from the messages that have resounded from Platt over the past eight years.

Platt explained: Casual, comfortable Christianity is not Christianity at all. This gospel changes the way we live.

And as he has done so often, Platt reminded the audience of the daunting global reality that stands in stark contrast from the gospel of light:

  • a billion people in desperate spiritual need.
  • 20,000 children will die of hunger-related disease –  today!
  • 4-5 billion people who “right now are on a road to an everlasting hell.”
  • a couple of those billion “have never, ever heard the gospel.”

Platt’s voice raised and quivered as he challenged the audience: We Don’t Have Time To Play Games!

We have a mission that warrants radical urgency and my prayer (Brook Hills) is that you won’t forget that.

Don’t shrink back. Hold fast to this gospel with radical faith.

Some may say that David Platt is too young. Others might complain that he has never lived on an international mission field. How could he lead the International Mission Board?

So why is the most significant global force of missionaries finding such excitement at David’s appointment to the IMB? What is it about David that rivets thousands of young Christians, let alone young Southern Baptists?

A few of David’s characteristics were apparent on Sunday.

  • He is real and approachable. Few refer to David as Dr. David Platt, Brother Platt, Pastor Platt. Most just call him, “David” or simply “Platt.”
  • David’s every thought and fiber overflow with the gospel message that demands radical faith. You know where David is heading with his messages. Expect to hear the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
  • David’s is neither a mindless nor a passionless message. In this Sunday’s message, like many of his books and sermons, Platt addressed a deeply theological and controversial issue – the reality of hell, the imminence of death, the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection and the consequences of choices made in this life.

Platt unfolded his theological argument asserting that the resurrection is real—

But if Jesus did not rise from the dead . . .

Then our faith is futile and we stand guilty of sin.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead .  .  .

Then our message is false and our mission is destructive.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead .  .  .

Then those who have died in Christ have been dammed before God.

And If Jesus did not rise from the dead .  .  .

Then radical, sacrificial, risk-taking faith is to be pitied in this world.

Obviously that is not where Platt’s message ended. His exegesis of the entire chapter led to his final, emotional charge to his beloved Brook Hills family.

I call you, Church at Brook Hills, to lead this church in such a way that it only makes sense that Christ has risen from the dead. Eight years ago, in His grace, God led me to Brook Hills. But in these last days, the King has made it clear that I have another battle to fight.

Regardless, let us hold fast to this gospel.

Platt concluded his message reading 1 Cor 15:58

. . . be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

In response, the entire congregation joined together in a mass commissioning prayer for the Platt family.

Jim Shaddix, Pastor for Teaching and Training, challenged the Platts as follows.

“Time is short and the task is tall but God has equipped you. You have often quoted C.T. Studd who said, ‘I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.’

David, now is your chance to go run a rescue shop and bring Southern Baptists with you.”

As is their weekly practice, David Platt, now the president of the IMB, concluded the service by leading the congregation in the recitation of the Great Commission. This was certainly a fitting end to one era and an appropriate beginning for the next.

David’s messages in this series are available at

Published by Mark Morris on 13 Sep 2014

Mission Leaders RoundTable

Memphis Global Roundtable – Nov 4
Pastors and mission leaders will join the IMB’s global strategy leaders to pray for the world and share in strategic thinking and planning.  If you are a pastor or mission leader please come for a working lunch
Tuesday, November 04, 2014 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM (Central Time)
Christ Fellowship Baptist Church
170 N. Oak Grove Rd.
Memphis, Tennessee 38120
Map and Directions

The week of November 4 -9, Affinity Group Strategy Leaders will gather near Memphis for a series of meetings culminating in the appointment of new missionaries by the IMB’s new president, David Platt.

The IMB is inviting pastors to join him and and global leaders during their one-day retreat and planning event.

From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. come share lunch and join round table discussions with the 9 IMB Global Leaders. Pastors will be seated around tables with each of field leaders and there will be opportunity to learn about the various field strategies and to learn from pastors ways that the IMB can better serve local church strategies.


10:00 a.m. check-in

Pastors and Mission Leaders Roundtable
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Lunch included)

7:00 p.m. there will be a gathering of up to 400 will be held at SOS Memphis, 2505 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38112 for any individuals who are interested in more specific information about serving internationally.

Register Here

Published by Mark Morris on 23 Jul 2014

Ramadan Prayers

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. Ps 108:3 ESV

In the midst of Ramadan, and the approach of the “Night of Power” I’m reminded that Muslims view this night as the most powerful night of the year. Adherents believe that Allah will reveal himself in special ways on this night. This night represents the first revelation to their prophet.

During these last two weeks Muslims have been praying and fasting for special merit to be earned through their sacrifices of self-denial. They believe that certain angels are only visible to humans on the night of power. Perhaps, they think, a special need will be met by these angels.

My heart is saddened in two regards.

First, no human work or sacrifice of merit will suffice to cover the sins of man. False hope, meaningless sacrifices, and misappropriated devotion will be found empty.

Second, the substitutionary, redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the Cross will be blatantly ignored tomorrow by millions of Muslims who feign appreciation of Jesus, the prophet, while discounting the divine nature, work,  message and divine nature of the Living Lord.

How I long for Turks, Kurds, Zaza, Pushtun, Hazara, Tajik, Arabs, Berbers, and the Muslim peoples throughout the earth to hear and believe and worship the one true God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Pray . . .

  • for followers of Christ in the Muslim world to appropriately communicate the message of the Messiah during the remaining days of Ramadan.
  • for new followers of Jesus to remain faithful and strong during their first Ramadan as followers of Jesus Christ.
  • for God’s glory among the multitude of ethne who will gather at the throne of grace worshiping the one true God.

Published by Mark Morris on 07 Dec 2013

A Life Laid Down (From World Magazine)

I have linked below the World Magazine article on Ronnie Smith’s death today in Benghazi.  I have also attached John Piper’s article on the topic.

LIBYAAn American teacher killed in Benghazi strived to ‘treasure Christ above all things’

Posted Dec. 6, 2013, 11:46 a.m.

Hours after assailants gunned down American teacher Ronnie Smith during his morning jog near the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday, grieving friends on opposite sides of the globe remembered Smith, 33, as a devoted teacher, family man, and Christian.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Smith’s murder, but Islamist militants had called for the kidnapping of U.S. citizens in Libya in October. Hospital officials said the teacher had been shot multiple times. Read More

John Piper writes the following poignant message about Ronnie.

When We Send a Person to His Death

by John Piper | December 6, 2013

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media.

One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya.

Read The Entire Article

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