He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 

Most Significant Theological Issue Facing Southern Baptists

[Divorce] is, I firmly believe, the most significant theological issue facing Southern Baptists right now. And, yes, it is theological. It doesn't matter how many times we preach eternal security (or perseverance of the saints, or "once saved, always saved") in our pulpits or how many times we affirm it in our confessions of faith; we are repudiating it in our pews. When young Southern Baptist children see the visible representation of the Christ/church union ripped violently asunder before their eyes repeatedly, what in the world does that do to the way they, the way we, hear the gospel?

The antidote here is not more self-righteousness. We're all, all of us, vulnerable to this. Our "You kids get off my lawn" crankiness sure isn't helping the recovery of the family. And the antidote surely isn't another denominational program. In the article, I outline what I think might be a few steps for all of us, the first of which is to see what's at stake here: the gospel of Christ Jesus.

- Dr. Russell Moore | The Henry Institute

 

Screwtape's Strategies & Pornography

My dear Wormwood:

For your careful review, I have outlined below our strategies for destroying faith and family life. Destroy this secret message immediately after reading it. This classified material comes from the lowest regions.

The chief way we attack the family is by neutralizing the protector. Once we neutralize the father, then the children are ours whenever and wherever we want them. And want them we do! Those despicable little ones make my black blood boil. Every time I see one of these wretched children, it reminds me of the Enemy’s holiness and love of purity. Our plan is to attack their purity so that they will belong to us for all time. Therefore, we need only to neutralize the guardians of these little monsters - and then we can pollute their miserable souls.

Thankfully, my enemies in the modern era are slow to realize the importance of a father in protecting his family. They play into our hands when they think that a father’s protective role ended in the bygone era when he defended the family against wild animals and invading savages. This incredible ignorance is utterly delightful! Little do they know that a father’s guardianship of his family is more valuable now than at any time in history. Spiritually, they are sound asleep. For a little while they paid heed to the Enemy’s warning to Pope Leo XIII about our plans for the modern era. It even looked like we would be defeated when our enemies enlisted the aid of our arch-opponent Michael. Fortunately, most of our little targets have forgotten about the arch-opponent Michael, and our plans proceed apace.

Towards the end of the century, just when our plans for destroying the faith by destroying the family were nearing completion, the Enemy sent that contemptible “pope for the family.” Decades of work were at risk when for the first time in history a pope (Ugh! I hate that word!) wrote a letter directly to families throughout the world. Amazingly, he seemed to know just how to warn families about our subtle (and not so subtle) plans for destroying the family. When things looked as if our work was about to be undone - the most wonderful thing happened! The families of the world didn’t even bother to read the contemptible pope’s letter. Oh, how wonderful this was. In our lower realm there was rejoicing for months over the nearly complete apathy concerning this teaching.

Now as we begin this new millennium, we must use technology to bring our master plan to completion by utilizing Internet pornography. Already we have spiritually neutralized millions of the Enemy’s men with pornography. Over the next few years we can surely make millions more spiritual midgets, who we can then manipulate at will.

With Internet pornography we can finally bring down the guardians of the Christian family. The fools still don’t realize that the technological temptations are waging war against their very souls, bringing to completion an over-a-century long campaign to destroy the faith by destroying the family. Since it is working so exceedingly well, I suggest that we continue to use every technological innovation to pump pornography to Christian fathers. Just think of the wonderful new digital temptations we will soon be sending out over broadband!

Remember, every man addicted to pornography is caught in the snares of what the Enemy calls grave sin. With pornography we have crippled their ability to spiritually protect their families. After they are ensnared in pornography, their families (their marriages and their children) are vulnerable to our attacks. Sure, these men still appear fine on the outside as they go to church, but we know that their hearts have been captured by pornography.

And since sons usually follow in the father’s footsteps, the sins of the fathers will run down through the generations, and we can rest assured that the future generations will belong to us.

A delightful by-product of pornography addiction is that it is so effective in creating turmoil in marriages. Of course, we have been attempting to destroy marriages as a vital part of our overall plan. A husband’s pornography addiction has shown a unique ability to undermine trust and intimacy between spouses. The addiction creates turmoil, heartbreak, and bewilderment in the hearts of those detestable Christian wives.

As far as Sundays in church go, there is only one thing to do. Just make sure things stay as they are - nice and quiet. The last thing we need are homilies about specific sins, like pornography. If a damaging homily is somehow preached, make sure you scramble any attempts to organize support groups to assist men unable to free themselves from our work. Just let the poor devils struggle alone - of course we know that they are not alone in their pornography addiction, don’t we?

Finally, we must keep up our guard against the Head of THAT family. Never forget how the Head of THAT family was used by the Enemy to ruin our dear servant Herod’s plans to kill the so-called Holy One. There are centuries-old rumors from the upper regions that the Head of THAT family will be brought into service at a critical time in history. The last thing we want is a repeat of the first century.

It has taken immense effort, but we have managed to thoroughly confuse modern man (and much of the church) about the meaning of true manhood and masculinity. We need impure men, especially fathers, to continue leading the culture towards our regions. We must therefore keep fathers from contact with the Head of THAT family, so that they don’t have any effective models of manly purity and righteousness.

Yet we need to be realistic in our strategies. If we cannot keep men away from the Unmentionable One, then at least we can chip away at some of the truth to keep things manageable for us. Keep their beliefs abstract. Men look up to tangible role models. Just be sure they don’t discover the Enemy’s perfect model for fathers, or our plans will get derailed. We can never hope to lead fathers devoted to that so-called “Just Man” deeper into the depraved delights of pornography.

Yours Diabolically,
Screwtape

- Porn Free

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 

17 Months, Then Dead

Adoniram & Ann Judson's 1st child died at sea & never even had a name. Their 2nd child, Roger Williams Judson, lived to be just 17 months & then died. Instead of rage or bitterness, the mother of these two tiny souls instead responded by writing:

"Our hearts were bound up with this child; we felt he was our earthly all, our only source of innocent recreation in this heathen land (they were missionaries in Burma). But God saw it was necessary to remind us of our error, and to strip us of our only little all. O, may it not be vain that he has done it. May we so improve it that he will stay his hand and say 'It is enough.'" - To the Golden Shore, 193.

As a new father, I pray that as the earthly father & steward of my Father's child, in sickness & health, death & life, I will be able to respond with the unshakable faith of Ann Judson.

 

Got Gas?


Go to gasbuddy.com, enter your zip code, find where the cheapest gas in your area is complete with address & map. Updated frequently.

Monday, April 28, 2008 

North Koreans Hunt Believers

Former police and security officers in North Korea told a U.S. government body that their superiors had instructed them to play the role of Christians and infiltrate “underground” prayer meetings in order to incriminate, arrest, imprison and sometimes execute believers in North Korea.

Interviewed for a report issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the six officers were tasked – before they fled North Korea – with finding and eliminating small groups of Christians.

They said the North Korean government considers religion – and Christianity in particular – to be the primary threat to national security, according to the report, released April 15. Four of the six security agents had worked with the National Security Agency (NSA), two with the People’s Security Agency (PSA) and another for the Korean Workers’ Party.

They also had meted our severe punishment to refugees repatriated to North Korea who admitted having contact with Chinese or South Korean Christians.

Border Patrol

The six security agents said there were increased attempts to halt religious activities along the border with China, including setting up mock prayer meetings to trap refugee converts, and basic theological training for security agents to enable them to infiltrate churches in China and search for North Koreans in attendance.

The agents described their detention and interrogation of North Korean refugees as “counter-intelligence work,” since the government believed South Korean missionary involvement in the refugee crisis was nothing short of espionage.

One refugee held at a PSA detention center in Saetbyeol, North Hamgyeong province, was told directly that if she had carried the Bible of God into North Korea, she would be “sent to the [labor camps] and they would kill her there.”

Border police sent another refugee to the PSA detention center in North Hamgyeong province and later to the NSA’s prison at Onseong. “They … asked whether I had contact with Christians. I was kicked and struck severely. I had to stand all day long and I was not permitted to move or speak … When they asked again whether I had heard of Christianity, I admitted that I had.”

If repatriated refugees have had little or no contact with religious groups, border police hand them over to the PSA for short-term detention. If religious contact is discovered, however, they are handed over to the NSA for possible torture, sentencing to prison labor camps, or execution.

“There are no preliminary hearings when religious people get caught,” one agent said. “[We] regard them as anti-revolutionary elements. When such an offender is caught in North Korea, the NSA officers surround the person and kick and beat the person severely before interrogating.”

Still another agent confirmed that, “The most important question asked to the repatriated is whether they have met South Korean missionaries or evangelists or encountered or experienced religion. If they confess that they have met missionaries or deacons…then without any further questions, they will be sent to the NSA and they are as good as dead. However, only a small number of cases involve religions.”

Both the PSA and the NSA play an important role in “counter-intelligence” operations. The PSA is a more general police force, while the NSA is the North Korean counterpart to America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation or Central Intelligence Agency. The PSA gathers information on every citizen for a dossier that is kept on file and used by the NSA to “decide whether to arrest a person,” according to one former NSA officer.

- read the rest of the article here

 

Do Hard Things

I don't just take things at face value. I need to examine, question, research, & test things for myself before I come to a conclusion. That's why when Alex & Brett Harris released their book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations came out, I was very suspicious of the immediate fanfare it received from the Christian circles I frequent on the internet.

My suspicion was due in large part to the fact that Alex & Brett are brothers of Josh Harris, popular author & pastor, who happened to replace the even more popular C.J. Mahaney as pastor of Covenant Life Church, which is the birthplace of the very popular Sovereign Grace Ministries. My skeptical side says, "I wonder if these young guys were not linked to Josh Harris & C.J. Mahaney if they'd be getting the same type of promotion and praise from what I see as the more solid ministries, churches, & individuals in the American Church."

All that said, I don't own the book, haven't read the book, but hope one day to get it & read it. But last week I came to understand at least the title of the book which, without even reading it, gave it credibility in my mind. My friend Tyler Eiland has taken to running 20 miles a week & one of the young teen guys I disciple, Zach Sollie, runs marathons. Since entering seminary & a church staff, I have had my only excercise when I'm walking from room to room or from my car to the building I'm going in to. With the inspiration of my friends, I took to try to start running & get my heart & body in shape.

It took me 3 weeks to get to where I could finally run 20 minutes straight without stopping so that I wouldn't die. Somewhere towards the end of the 2nd week, even though I was about to die, I kept pushing. I physically didn't feel good, but I felt joy, pleasure, & contentment from being in God's creation outside, from breaking a sweat, from working towards something that wasn't easy.

And then I realized - the reason I haven't run or worked out or exercised is because after years & years of not doing anything to physical train my body, something as simple as running had become hard. And when something is hard, in our culture, we just move on to something easier. Greek was hard - so I took the minimum amount required and quit. Lifting weights are heavy - so when on my birthday 2 years ago I got a gym membership, I maybe made it to the building 4 times, & somewhat because of my schedule, but also because it was hard, I quit.

You get the point - most things that are worthwhile are hard. Over a month later, I'm enjoying running somewhat for the first time in my life. I don't enjoy it because it is fun as much as it is the satisfaction of my body growing, adapting, and improving. So, without reading the book yet, I give it a thumbs up for the idea. Whether it is learning a foreign language to share the Gospel, memorizing Scripture, moving to an inner-city urban area to share the love of Christ, or getting in shape, God is glorified from the satisfaction we have in Him as He works & moves to enable us to do hard things.

Saturday, April 26, 2008 

Touch My Body

I was waiting for the hospital to give us our son back after his circumcision when we were watching Live with Regis & Kelly. Mariah Carey was their guest & I think she's had more #1 hits than any other solo artist in recording history. I don't remember the exact exchange, but Regis asks her something along the lines of, "what's your secret?"

Mariah's latest hit is called Touch My Body. Being an XM radio subscriber, it's impossible not to hear it all over the airwaves. Knowing that her latest song was about frivolous sexual activity, her answer to Regis stunned me. She said in response to her secret something like, "I look at every accomplishment as a gift from God. I don't look at it like it's me, I pray to do what I do & to write songs..."

Of course, I looked at my wife like, "did you hear that? What is wrong with her? Yeah, I'm sure God was equally inspiring you as you wrote Touch My Body as He was Paul when he wrote his letter to the Romans."

2o seconds passed. Then the Holy Spirit rebuked & taught me in the silence of my heart.

He was saying, "She doesn't know me - she hasn't been reborn, of course she's going to say inconsistent and false things about me in ignorance. But you - you have been reborn & you know better & yet you sometimes enjoy the very things in your thoughts that she is singing about. You know to turn your eyes the other way sometimes, & yet you don't. The only difference between her & you is that God chose to reveal Himself to you when you were hell-bound & yet you continue to sin. A lost person is not capable of being godly. If anything, your heart should break for her. If anything, you are the hypocrite."

Like the Holy Spirit already said through Paul once, "For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" - 1 Corinthians 4:7

Friday, April 25, 2008 

Pray for Missionaries Children

TCK (Third Culture Kid) Prayer Guide

Birth-Childhood:

  • Pray that TCKs experience healthy goodbyes as they leave for the field, that they adjust well to their new environment, and that they quickly find new friends and learn the language and culture.
  • Pray that expectant mothers enjoy good health and safe deliveries.
  • Pray that homeschooled children will learn eagerly and that parents will organize and balance their time and responsibilities well.
  • Pray that TCK needs will be met - spiritual, mental, physical, social and emotional.
  • Pray that they come to know the Lord at a young age and are discipled well.
  • Pray that God empowers TCKs to minister with their parents and discover their own spiritual gifts.
  • Pray that the children stay healthy in their adopted country and learn to walk by faith in grace when facing health problems.

Junior/ High School:

  • Pray they have learning activities and projects that meet their individual needs.
  • Pray that they communicate their fears and feelings related either to leaving for boarding school or homeschooling during high school years.
  • Pray that each TCK has a personal, dynamic, growing faith in Jesus.
  • Pray that stateside assignments allow them to establish a strong link with American culture, develop long term relationships and create rich memories.
  • Pray that they develop and retain a love for the adopted culture. Pray that God motivates them to seriously consider future service on the field.
  • Pray that TCKs attending boarding school have good relationships with dorm parents.
  • Pray that God equips them to be wise, discerning and spiritually mature young people who are eager to seek counsel from wise Christian adults.
  • Pray that their relationships will be pure and healthy.
  • Pray that God gives them teachers who model Jesus Christ.
  • Pray that parents of boarding students have grace to release their kids, know how to stay in touch in creative and loving ways and truly enjoy the special family times during holiday breaks.
  • Pray that as TCKs graduate and leave, they will be blessed with much affirmation and precious memories along with the wisdom of how to stay in touch with close friends and family left behind.

College/Adults:

  • Pray that TCKs seek God’s will for their future: which college to attend, which job to pursue, etc. Ask that they will adapt well to their new culture/country, a transition process that takes time.
  • Pray for wisdom in the following key areas: finding a church home where they can minister and receive healthy ministry, being single, who and when to marry, what career to pursue, and how to create their own traditions.
  • Pray that TCKs develop good study habits and routines during their first year of college and find good Christian friends to influence and affirm them.
  • Pray for TCKs facing difficulties in adjustment and those who have dropped out of school to find direction from the Lord. Pray for people who will reach out to them.
  • Pray that they quickly learn essential life-skills: financial (living frugally, avoiding debt, balancing a check book, using a debit/credit card), practical (shopping for groceries, laundry) and social (contemporary American culture, topics common to a new place, good boundaries).
  • Pray that God gives them a passion to study His Word and to pray regularly.
  • Pray that God meets their needs abundantly - transportation, housing, places to store their “stuff” during school vacations and wholesome places to spend vacation days
  • Pray that TCKs will have a sense of “home” in the US where many feel like strangers. Many long for a sense of belonging and having a home of their own.
  • Pray for TCKs who are in rebellion, practicing self-destructive behaviors and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Some are angry at God for their difficulties. Pray for deliverance and breakthroughs.

"Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe." I Timothy 4:12

- The Pacific Rim


Thursday, April 24, 2008 

What We Personalized, Read, & Prayed Over Luke at His Birth

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

- Psalm 25:4-10

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 

Best Commercial Ever

 

It Can Take Time

OSAKA, Japan (BP)--He is truly a carpenter following a carpenter. “At first, you clean it,” the woodcarver explains about treating the rough surface of his favorite working wood – American pine. “As it’s treated, I rub it with water. If you add water, it gets darker and then it becomes the color of its maturity. In the same way, God treated my heart and is working on it. In the same way, it will mature just like these tables.”

Tables, cabinets and clocks have been fashioned by Ima Oka’s hands for 33 years. For more than a year, the 57-year-old has submitted to the molding and crafting of another woodcarver. For Ima, although the seed of the Gospel took root in his heart more than 10 years ago, he didn’t accept Christ until his heart was ready for treatment.

Seizing the moment

Last year, missionaries Bob and Gloria Gellerstedt, natives of Atlanta, Ga., and Cambridge, Mass., respectively, were prayerwalking the streets of Osaka when they spotted the sign for Oka’s woodcarving shop. As they met Oka and silently prayed for God’s direction, the strains of Amazing Grace began pouring from a loudspeaker. Seizing his opportunity, Gellerstedt asked, “Do you know anything about this song?” That led to a discussion of the song, and Bob was amazed when Oka said, “Actually, I have an interest in studying the Bible.”

Just months later, after meeting Gellerstedt each week for Bible study in his Osaka showroom, Oka accepted Jesus and was baptized on the shop’s second floor. Oka’s response to the Gospel is unusual for Japanese, a people whose adherence to native Shintoism and Buddhism and rejection of any religion they consider “foreign” are strong deterrents to Christianity.

Yet many Japanese who come to faith in Christ do so 10, 20 and even 40 years after they had some contact with the Gospel. In Oka’s case, he had an interest in God, read the entire Old Testament and had several Christian clients and friends.

– For Nobuko in Nagoya, a semester of living with a Christian family in California as an exchange student helped her see the signs of God working in her life almost 20 years later.

– For a Brazilian-Japanese man, Tetuo, who grew up hearing about Jesus in predominantly Catholic Brazil, his return to Japan, loss of his job and healing of his daughter-in-law from breast cancer after missionaries prayed for her led him to accept Christ.

“We hear all kinds of things that have happened in the past to lead them to that point,” says missionary Cindy Reynolds, a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “It’s like they were ready for us to meet them. ... God’s been preparing them all along.”

Making inroads

God’s love is making inroads into Japanese lives. Through Sunday School classes started in the 1950s and ’60s, relationships built with missionaries or through experiences abroad, Japanese are hearing about Jesus. That knowledge eventually blooms into belief – though it may take years for the Gospel seed to come to fruition.

“You just encourage people, and be patient with people,” says Carlton Walker, a veteran 25-year missionary in Japan. “We call them ‘yet-to-be believers.’ When we say, ‘nonbeliever,’ we’re making a judgment call. ‘Yet-to-be believers’ is a statement of faith that they can be someone who believes along the way.”

- Dea Davidson | IMB.org

 

Hope for Japan's 'Seekers'

JAPAN (BP)--Staring out her bedroom window in spring 2005, 49-year-old Michiko didn’t have much to live for. Ravaged by a critical illness and depression, Michiko’s only source for answers – her 10-year membership in Shinnyo-en, a Buddhist-derived cult – even threatened to punish her if she quit the group over her disillusionment.

In vain hope, she began attending a fitness club to lift her spirits. Through her friendship with a Japanese believer, Michiko heard the Holy Spirit’s call on her life. During a house church meeting, singing the Korean worship song, You’re Born to be Loved, Michiko’s heart opened to God.

“As I heard that song, I could not stop my tears,” she remembers. “The first thing the pastor said is, ‘The reason you’re born is that you’re loved by God.’ I realized the reason I’m here is because God made me and loved me.”

Today, not only Michiko but also her husband, Naoyuki, believes in Jesus Christ. It’s fruit from seeds planted more than 40 years ago while she attended a missions school. Like the man-made island known as “Rokko” where Michiko lives, God has taken the life she felt was wasted and turned it into something beautiful, even as He rebuilds her marriage on the foundation of Christ.

Nation of contradictions

Outwardly, Japan has adopted a Western lifestyle and accumulated wealth and technology. Yet Japanese are a traditional people who have everything they need except the one thing they fear or resist accepting: a relationship with Jesus Christ. As ijime, or peer pressure, of family and society expectations drives Japanese, they turn to materialism, humanism and cults to provide answers for their lives.

Japan is a nation of contradictions from ancient Shinto shrines to futuristic cities; powerful sumo wrestlers to gothic teenagers; and ceremonial tea houses to Starbucks. More than 127 million people live in this island nation about the size of California. Japan is one of the most densely populated countries on Earth with approximately 800 inhabitants per square mile.

Japanese, with their hospitable nature and quiet smiles, live by cultural rules handed down through the generations. A Japanese proverb sums up expectations: “The nail that sticks its head up is the one that gets hit.” The codes of conformity, as well as adherence to traditional animistic religions, are two important barriers to the Gospel.

Apathy rather than adherence

Japan is called the “land of 8 million gods,” although many Japanese have apathy rather than adherence to faith. Most claim belief in combined religions of Shintoism and Buddhism. Native Shinto religion emphasizes ancestor worship and fear of gods and involves various prayers and superstitious practices. Buddhism, introduced in the sixth century, eventually became mixed with Shinto.

Missionary Buddy Brents, formerly of Odessa, Texas, explains: “There are so many spiritual strongholds. ... [Japanese people] are so locked up in fear of what other people will think about them if they become a Christian.”

Less than one-half of 1 percent profess faith in Jesus Christ. With so few entering a traditional church, missionaries seek lost people through relational evangelism. The approach involves joining existing groups – including sports clubs, quilting and cooking classes and business groups – to build relationships and share the Gospel.

The going is tough, but God is producing a harvest of Japanese souls. As the Lord moves in cities across Japan, missionary Carlton Walker says he feels like his father did when he had a particularly good catch of fish. “One day we got an awesome catch,” Walker, a native of Lynchburg, Va., says. “I said, ‘Dad, isn’t this a great day?’ He said, ‘Yeah, but I can’t help thinking about the fish still down there.’”


- Dea Davidson | IMB.org

Monday, April 21, 2008 

Ordinary Can Still Be Very Difficult

After six years living in a Tobo village in Papua New Guinea, missionary Kellie Knapp still finds some experiences stressful.

The ladies gathered and sat on the cold, wet, dirt floor in a small grass hut. One of the Tobo believers was sharing from the book of Acts while her 3-year-old son was nursing.

To keep from staring at the topless Bible teacher, Kellie decided to count the flies trying to land on her face. When she reached 100, she decided she should be paying attention to the teacher.

Big mistake.

The child had stopped nursing but now had a full diaper. The mom/Bible teacher -- teaching the whole time -- took off his clothes, put them in a bag beside her and he ran around her naked.

Then noticing that he had a runny nose -- actually that's quite an understatement -- she reached out with her hand cleaned his nose and wiped it on her blouse.

That's when Kellie decided to count bugs again. Another mistake. She noted a weird-looking orange spider on her shirt, a fluorescent blue bug crawling toward her leg and a 3-inch-long fuzzy bee trying to land in her hair.

At that point she was about ready to start crying. Then she did start to cry. Not because of her emotional state, but because smoke from the fire in the hut was permeating the air around her and her nostrils were burning. She moved closer to the Tobo woman next to her in order to get away from the smoke.

Offering to hold the baby, she immediately felt a warm trickle. The baby peed on her.

"Now I smelled of smoke and pee, so I looked away trying to focus on something else," wrote Kellie. "And my eyes met intense stares. Every child in the hut was watching me. You would think after six years they would get used to me and my white skin and red hair!"

Kellie glanced at her watch, the Bible study had been going on for three hours and they hadn't even begun to pray yet. Praying usually took about two hours.

Kellie thought, "I can't feel my legs, I need to start dinner, and I really needed a shower." So she got up and left.

"That's it. The climax of my story. I left," Kellie wrote. "I want you to know that even though I am supposed to be an experienced missionary, I make mistakes. Will you pray for me as I try to ignore my cultural stress and be sensitive to the Spirit?"

Missionaries need your prayers every day to help them deal with the unusual, the uncomfortable -- and the normal stress of everyday life.

- Dena McMaster | New Tribes Mission

 

Pitchfork Theology

The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still.

- A.W. Tozer

 

Counter-Cultural

And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” - Malachi 2:13-16

Sunday, April 20, 2008 

And the Word Spread

This video features our future team leaders in Japan, Tak & Lana Oue, sharing how God is bringing Japanese to faith in Japan's smaller cities, villages, and towns. Pray that the Word would spread in Shizuoka, Japan resulting in a church planting movement.


video

Saturday, April 19, 2008 

Christ-like Forgiveness: Loving Your Captors

The Rev. Jacob Daniel DeShazer, one of the participants in the historic Doolittle Raid on Japan during World War II, died in his sleep March 15 at his home in Salem, Ore. He was 95.

After spending 40 months as a prisoner of war after the raid, DeShazer returned to Japan intent on forgiving his former captors and converting them to Christianity. During 30 years as a missionary, he helped start 23 churches in Japan.

DeShazer was born Nov. 15, 1912, to an Oregon wheat-farming family. He joined the Army Air Corps at 27, two years before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. A month after the attack, he volunteered for a secret mission. Then a corporal, he was the bombardier aboard the "Bat out of Hell," one of 16 bombers under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle that launched a surprise attack on Tokyo and other Japanese targets on April 18, 1942.

DeShazer's plane dropped bombs on an oil refinery in Nagoya, Japan, before heading toward China. But when the fuel ran out, the crew bailed. DeShazer was captured and sentenced to life in prison in Japanese-occupied China.

After months of torture and hunger, a prison guard handed DeShazer a Bible. Even though he'd been raised in a Christian home, DeShazer said, he had not embraced the faith until he read that prison Bible. He vowed that if he were ever freed, he would share what he had learned with the Japanese.

In August 1945, 10 days after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, DeShazer's captors freed him. Back in the Northwest, he attended Seattle Pacific College, now Seattle Pacific University, a Christian school.

He met Florence Matheny there and the two married in 1946. After he graduated in 1948, the couple moved to Japan as Free Methodist missionaries. He returned for a master's of divinity degree at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky before moving to Japan again to evangelize and help establish churches throughout the country. DeShazer and his wife retired in 1977, settling in Oregon.

In addition to his wife of 61 years, DeShazer is survived by five children; 10 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and a sister.

Many of his experiences were recounted in a 1950 biography, "The Amazing Story of Sgt. Jacob DeShazer" by C. Hoyt Watson, first published by Light and Life Press.

Eleven of the Doolittle Raiders are still alive.

DeShazer, a prisoner of war who became a Free Methodist missionary in Japan after he was freed, preaches to a group of youngsters in 1952. He had been captured in Japanese-occupied China after his plane ran out of fuel following the Doolittle Raid

- LA Times

 

Abortion Statistics in the US

ANNUAL ABORTION STATISTICS

  • In 2005 (the most recent year for which there is reliable data), approximately 1.21 million abortions took place in the U.S., down from an estimated 1.29 million in 2002, 1.31 million in 2000 and 1.36 million in 1996. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S. (AGI).

  • In 2001, the highest number of reported legal induced abortions occurred in NYC (91,792), Florida (85,589), and Texas (77,409); the fewest occurred in Idaho (738), South Dakota (895), and North Dakota (1,216) (CDC).

  • There are 36 abortions per 1,000 live births in Idaho and 767 abortions for every 1,000 live births in NYC (CDC).

  • Overall, the annual number of legal induced abortions in the United States increased gradually from 1973 until it peaked in 1990, and it generally declined thereafter (CDC).

  • In 1998, the last year for which estimates were made, more than 23% of legal induced abortions were performed in California (CDC).

  • The abortion rate in the United States was higher than recent rates reported for Canada and Western European countries and lower than rates reported for China, Cuba, the majority of Eastern European countries, and certain Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union (CDC).

  • The national legal induced abortion ratio increased from 196 abortions per 1,000 live births in 1973 to 358 abortions per 1,000 in 1979 and remained nearly stable through 1981. The ratio peaked at 364 abortions per 1,000 live births in 1984 and since then has demonstrated a generally steady decline. In 2001, the abortion ratio was 246 abortions per 1,000 live births (for the states that reported, a 0.4% increase from 2000 (CDC).

  • Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended; about 4 in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-two percent of all U.S. pregnancies end in abortion. (AGI).

WHO HAS ABORTIONS?

  • 82% of all abortions are performed on unmarried women (CDC).

  • The abortion ratio for unmarried women is 572 abortions for every 1,000 live births. For married women it is 65 abortions for every 1,000 live births (CDC).

  • Women between the ages of 20-24 obtained 33% of all abortions (CDC).

  • 50% of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25; women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all U.S. abortions and teenagers obtain 17% (AGI).

  • Adolescents under 15 years obtained less than 1% of all abortions, but have the highest abortion ratio, 744 abortions for every 1,000 live births (CDC).

  • 47% of women who have abortions had at least one previous abortion (AGI).

  • Black women are more than 4.8 times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2.7 times as likely (AGI).

  • 43% of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% identify themselves as Catholic (AGI).

WHY ARE ABORTIONS PERFORMED?

  • On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 3/4 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner (AGI).

WHEN DO ABORTIONS OCCUR?

  • 87% of all abortions happen during the first trimester, prior to the at 13th week (AGI/CDC).

HOW ARE ABORTIONS PERFORMED?

  • 95% of abortions were known to have been performed by curettage (which includes dilatation and evacuation [D&E]). Most curetage abortions are suction procedures(CDC).

  • Hysterectomy and hysterotomy were used in less than 1% of all abortions (CDC).

  • Medical abortions make up approximately 3% of all abortions reported (CDC).

WHO IS PERFORMING ABORTIONS?

  • The number of abortion providers declined by 11% between 1996 and 2000 (from 2,042 to 1,819). It declined another 2% between 2000 and 2005 (from 1,819 to 1,787) (AGI).

  • Forty percent of providers offer very early abortions (during the first four weeks’ gestation) and 96% offer abortion at eight weeks. Sixty-seven percent of providers offer at least some second-trimester abortion services (13 weeks or later), and 20% offer abortion after 20 weeks. Only 8% of all abortion providers offer abortions at 24 weeks (AGI).

ABORTION FATALITY

  • In 2000 (the most recent year for which data are available), 11 women died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortion (CDC).

  • The number of deaths attributable to legal induced abortion was highest before the 1980s (CDC).

  • In 1972 (the year before abortion was federally legalized), a total of 24 women died from causes known to be associated with legal abortions, and 39 died as a result of known illegal abortions (CDC).

THE COST OF ABORTION

  • In 2005, the cost of a nonhospital abortion with local anesthesia at 10 weeks of gestation ranged from $90 to $1,800, and the average amount paid was $413 (AGI).

MEDICAL ABORTION

  • In 2005, 57% of abortion providers, or 1,026 facilities, provided one or more types of medical abortions, a 70% increase from the first half of 2001. At least 10% of nonhospital abortion providers offer only medication abortion services (AGI).

  • In 2005, an estimated 161,100 early medication abortions were performed in nonhospital facilities (AGI).

  • Medication abortion accounted for 13% of all abortions, and 22% of abortions before nine weeks’ gestation, in 2005 (AGI).

ABORTION AND CONTRACEPTION

  • Induced abortions usually result from unintended pregnancies, which often occur despite the use of contraception (CDC).

  • 54% of women having abortions used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Amont those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users reported using the methods inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users reported correct use (AGI).

  • 8% of women having abortions have never used a method of birth control (AGI).

  • 9 in 10 women at risk of unintended pregnancy are using a contraceptive method (AGI).

ABORTION AND MINORS

  • 40% of minors having an abortion report that neither of their parents knew about the abortion (AGI).

  • 35 states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors seeking an abortion: AL, AR, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA,WI, WV, and WY. The Supreme Court ruled that minors must have the alternative of seeking a court order authorizing the procedure (AGI).

ABORTION AND PUBLIC FUNDS

  • The U.S. Congress has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions, except when the woman's life would be endangered by a full-term pregnancy or in cases of rape or incest (AGI).

  • 17 states (AK, AZ, CA, CT, HI, IL, MA, MD, MN, MT, NJ, NM, NY, OR, VT, WA and WV) do use public funds to pay for abortions for some poor women. About 14% of all abortions in the United States are paid for with public funds (virtually all from the state) (AGI).
- Abort73.com

 

The Story of Stuff


Beyond the "Chicken-Little" & "Big Brother" mindset presented here, there is an array of truth found here that Christians could heed in a world where stuff, materialism, & consumerism rules the day, & often our hearts. Point: stuff doesn't bring you joy. It is a master.

Take the time to watch the storyofstuff.

Friday, April 18, 2008 

Japanese Prayer

video

 

Holiness Cannot Save

Can holiness save us? Can holiness put away sin, make satisfaction for transgressions, pay our debt to God? No, not a whit. God forbid that I should ever say so. Holiness can do none of these things. The brightest saints are all ‘unprofitable servants.’ Our purest works are not better than filthy rags, when tried by the light of God’s holy law. The white robe, which Jesus offers and faith puts on, must be our only righteousness, the name of Christ our only confidence, the Lamb’s book of life our only title to heaven. With all our holiness we are no better than sinners. Our best things are stained and tainted with imperfection. They are all more or less incomplete, wrong in the motive or defective in the performance. ‘By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is
the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast’ (Ephesians 2:8,9).

- J.C. Ryle | Holiness, pg 39

 

A Prison Without Bars

A new report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom highlights North Korea's denial of religious freedom to its people and China's assistance in helping the N. Koreans persecute Christians.

According to refugees interviewed for the report:

  • Apart from churches and temples in Pyongyang meant most to impress foreign tourists and guests, elements of Buddhism, Christianity, and traditional folk beliefs continue to exist in North Korea, in spite of the repression. Certain practices within Shamanism, such as fortune-telling, are widely practiced in defiance of government bans.

  • Conditions along the China-North Korea border are uniquely hazardous for North Korean refugees, as security agents target refugees believed to have visited Chinese churches for food aid or other forms of immediate assistance.

  • Refugees who admit under intense interrogation to having had contact with Christians while in China often receive particularly harsh punishments. As a result, many North Korean refugees must consciously avoid revealing any knowledge of Christianity or contact with China-based Christians.
According to former North Korean security agents, who were also interviewed for this report:

  • There is increased police activity aimed at halting religious activities in the border regions with China-including setting up of mock prayer meetings to entrap new converts in North Korea, and training security agents in Christian traditions and practices for the purposes of infiltration of churches in China.

  • North Korean security agents overseeing the detention and often brutal interrogation of North Korean refugees classify their efforts as "counterintelligence work," as it is believed that South Korean missionary activities aimed towards North Korean refugees is a cover for conducting espionage.

  • The North Korean dictatorship draws a distinction between recent converts who acquired religion while in China, and "old believers," whose families have been multi-generational religious devotees. New religious converts are targeted for especially stringent punishments.
- read entire article here on the upcoming report entitled A Prison Without Bars: Refugee and Defector Testimonies of Severe Violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief in North Korea

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 

Pope's Convictions Show Protestant - Catholic Divide

Though many in the secular media expressed outrage when the pope declared the Roman Catholic Church to be the only true church, Mohler said Benedict's statements were not unexpected and even reflect his concern for the souls of non-Catholics.

"The secular press and a good many non-Catholic church leaders expressed outrage and offense at the Pope's comments—assuming that such teachings were simply out of place in the modern world," Mohler wrote. "But Benedict was restating the tradition and teachings of his church—and he did so because he cared for those he believes are outside the blessings of grace he is certain are given to those in the communion of his church—and to that communion alone."

Mohler even expressed appreciation that the pope would care about Protestants like himself.

"I actually appreciated the Pope's concern," he wrote. "If he is right, we are endangering our souls and the souls of our church members. Yet, I am convinced that he is not right—not right on the papacy, not right on the sacraments, not right on the priesthood, not right on the Gospel, not right in understanding the church."

Mohler cited the Pope's statements at in a 2006 speech at Regensburg, Germany, and at his baptism of a prominent Muslin convert this past Easter as examples of Benedict's strong advocacy of Roman Catholic doctrine.

"His statements about the address and the baptism—and the general question of Islam—were perfectly in keeping with Catholic doctrine since Vatican II," he said. "Evangelicals can admire his boldness without appreciating his inclusivism."

- Dr. Mohler | Towers Online
(read full article here)

 

The Great Gap


The Christian life is a matter of becoming in intrinsic character what we already are in Christ…The purpose of these passages (e.g. Romans 6, Colossians 3:5-14, Ephesians 4:22-32) is to show us the
great gap between what we are counted or reckoned to be in Christ (justification) and what we are actually in ourselves in daily living (sanctification) in order to urge us to close the gap…Paul’s purpose is to urge us to become in everyday living what we already are counted to be in Christ.

- Jay Adams | The Biblical View of Self-Esteem, Self-Love, Self-Image, pg. 78

Monday, April 14, 2008 

Will Islam Conquer Rome?

Muslim cleric and Hamas Parliament member, Yunis al-Astal, predicted that Rome would soon be conquered by Islam and would then become a base of operations for that advance of Islam across Europe and the Americas. Watch the video yourself.

- James McDonald | Family Reformation

 

Pray for Missonaries Deep Thinking

Today T. was going over some of his stored things. He found some old sermon notes and remarked, "I used to preach better sermons than I do now." Can this be confirmation of Dad's fears? I've heard him say, "I think missionaries often fail to go on in the truth to deeper things," implying that the pressure of the work & the constant contact with primitive minds stultifies deep thinking in the Scriptures. God deliver me!

- March 6, 1952 journal entry of Jim Elliot, who became a martyr at my age

Saturday, April 12, 2008 

Schism (the Bible version of Fitna)

Raed AlSaeed created and released this video as a response to the anti-Quran movie Fitna released a couple weeks ago.

Esra'a in Bahrain posted this video to the mideastyouth.com site and explained...
"First of all, the creator of the video is trying to make a point. He is a Muslim, but not an anti-Christian. He is not saying this is how Christianity really is, in the end of the video, he is comparing this with Wilder’s Fitna. He is saying anyone can take a holy book, twist its words, couple it with the most extreme images/words representing the faith and then claim that the entire religion or its followers are like this. Thereby acknowledging the fact that Christianity is not like this at all but a little video like this has the power to prove otherwise no matter how misinformed it is, again in direct reference to Fitna.

The reason it was posted it here was to provide a discussion amongst all the Islamophobes who get away with insulting and abusing Muslims, and trying to show them how invalid Wilder’s film really is. It’s not to show Christians in a poor light and simply, it has nothing to do with the faith and everything to do with Wilder’s tactics and how they can be applied to pretty much anything." - read full post here

 

God's Sovereignty & Prayer

It grieves me that so many believers view the doctrine of God’s sovereignty as a deterrent to a healthy, vibrant prayer life. That kind of thinking demonstrates an inadequate, incomplete and unacceptable understanding, both of God’s sovereignty and of prayer. In truth, we pray because God is sovereign. He alone has power over all human events. In praying, we don’t run from His sovereignty, we run to it.

It’s absolutely true that God is sovereign over every detail of our lives. Job acknowledged that even the number of every person’s days is determined (Job 14:5). Life and death are in His hands (James 4:15). Yet we eat and breathe and sleep and take measures to avoid any kind of calamity that might end our lives prematurely. Why? That’s the very same question as, “Why pray if God is sovereign?” Here’s the answer to why we need to breathe, and why we need to pray: God ordains the means as well as the end. And our prayers are one of the important means by which He accomplishes His will and glorifies Himself in the process.

John MacArthur | symphonyofscripture.com

Friday, April 11, 2008 

Deep Forgiveness

“We are dealing here with deep forgiveness. The Lord Jesus did not come, live a perfect life, die on the cross and come back from the dead in order to dab around the edges of our wound. Our complicity in the sin of Adam, and our continuing screwed-up-ness required a great remedy, which could not be had apart from the work of a great Savior. But remember that Jesus is saving us from our sins, and not merely from the consequences of our sins. And one of the central sins he is saving us from is the sin of the double standard — wanting to receive forgiveness on easy terms, and wanting to extend it with the heart of a stickler for justice. We want to borrow easily, and lend with difficulty. We want our fingers open to receive, and our fist clenched for giving. But Jesus has given us fair warning that we do not receive forgiveness on our terms. Not at all. In the Lord’s prayer, we are taught to say this to God — ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Matt. 6:12). ‘Dear God, please harbor toward me all the thoughts I harbor toward others.’ Do the words stick in the throat? ‘So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart’ (Matt. 18:21-35). Forgiving others is not optional. This is the very heart of the gospel message.”

- Doug Wilson from his upcoming commentary on Hebrews |Femina

Thursday, April 10, 2008 

The Hype Man

The hype man is a lot like Flava Flav. See, back in the day before the trainwreck shows on VH1, it was Flava's job to pump up the crowd at Public Enemy concerts. While Chuck D was laying down some knowledge, Flava would frantically pace the stage, echoing Chuck's lyrics, punctuating the chorus of certain songs with a "yay boy!" And today, many churches have the same thing, which manifests itself in one of two ways:

1. The song hype man.
Sometimes, especially during an altar call at the end of a service, the pastor transforms into a hype man. Say for instance you're singing "How Great is Our God." Right after your music minister sings "How Great is Our God," the pastor will echo his words saying, "He is great isn't he? Don't you wont to sing about his greatness?" He essentially supports and remixes every line of the song with a little hype man ad lib.

2. The amen hype man.
Some churches have hype men on the stage in impressive looking chairs or sitting on the front row. Whereas Flava Flav shouted, "yay boy" or "don't believe the hype," the amen hype man yells, you guessed it, "Amen." It's like the punctuation to a pastor's sentence. A bold yellow highlighter to his words. The capers to his sauce if you will.

Still not feeling that post? I wish I didn't know this, but the hype man is like that guy Joey on the Martha Stewart Show. His job is to get the crowd going, to taste the food Martha makes and in general raise the energy level. Please don't tell any of my guy friends that I made that reference.

- check out the rest of the hilarious blog @ Stuff Christians Like

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 

10 Ways to Help Kids Love Missions

There are things we can do to help our kids love the nations and the cause of Christ, even though a heart and calling for the Great Commission is ultimately something only God can grant. Here are a few ideas from Ryan and Anna, who are currently preparing to serve in Asia with their two young daughters.

1. Pray for missionaries as a family. We keep a stack of prayer cards on the dinner table and rotate through them during mealtime prayers.

2. Read missionary biographies to your children. The stories of Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, William Carey, Gladys Aylward, and other missionary pioneers are captivating ways to orient a child’s heart on the most important things in life.

3. Draw the whole family into supporting missionaries financially. Teach your kids from a young age that being a good steward of their money involves channeling resources toward the the cause of Christ in missions. Older kids can donate some of their lawn mowing and babysitting money. Younger children can earn money doing chores around the house which can be set aside for missionaries.

4. Find your child a missionary kid pen pal. Many children of missionaries around the world would be delighted to get mail from a child their age in their parent’s culture. Your child (and the whole family) will learn valuable insights about living abroad through the eyes of a child. Additionally, when the missionaries visit your church, your child will already have a relationship with the MK and will be able to include them more easily.

5. Entertain missionaries in your home. Inviting missionaries over will be as much of a blessing to your family as to the missionaries. Host them for dinner or for a whole furlough. Build or buy your house with this in mind.

6. Take risks as a family. There are ways to live life which help children grasp the reality that discomfort and suffering are normal and rewarding parts of the Christian experience. Volunteer at a rescue mission; house a single mother; move to the inner-city.

7. Affirm and nurture qualities in your children which could serve them on the mission field. As your children grow in knowledge and skill, encourage them to think about how they could use their gifts in missions work. Then, if God says, “go,” release them to go!

8. Teach your children to be world Christians. Don't expose them to only the American perspective on news and realities around the world. Go out of your way to make them more aware than the average American Christian about geography, world history, and the plights and perspectives of people across the globe.

9. Read missionary prayer letters to your children. Ask them questions about the content and look up facts about the missionaries’ location on the Internet.

10. Use missions fact books and resources such as Operation World, the Global Prayer Digest, the Joshua Project, and Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). Kids of Courage is the youth-oriented arm of VOM and offers activity books, spotlights on the persecuted world, and more.

Most of all, pray every day that your kids will develop hearts that mirror God’s compassion for the nations and love for his glory in them!

- Tia | Desiring God Blog

Tuesday, April 08, 2008 

2 Year Old Girl Answering Questions About Islam!

Then on the flip side of the video below...

 

2 Year Old Sings The Lord's Prayer

Monday, April 07, 2008 

The Father's Love & the Joy of Jesus in Us

Consider carefully that the love the Father has for the Son is not a merciful, forgiving love. The Son has no sin and no flaw. He needs no mercy. The love the Father has for the Son is nothing but infinitely joyful admiration and fellowship. This is what Jesus says will be in us. Therefore, I take this to be a promise to work in us to make sure that our joy will be the very joy that the Father has in the Son. We are not left to ourselves to rejoice in Jesus as we ought. Jesus is committed to making it happen.

- John Piper | In Our Joy, pg. 39

Sunday, April 06, 2008 

A Savior Who Saves

The central glory of our faith is that we have a Savior. We are loaded down with sins, shortcomings, failures, bad habits of mind and heart, and an assortment of all kinds of baggage that make us miserable. We are the kind of people who need a Savior, so Christianity is the religion for us. God saves (rescues, delivers) us and makes us into new people.

I love it when my husband mentions from the pulpit that God doesn’t care about our sins. He has forgiven them and He doesn’t care about them any more. He wants us to come to Him and enjoy His presence, leaving our baggage at the door. Forgiveness means that God has cleared the record, He has received us and washed us. He is not interested in remembering how dirty the bathwater was. We are put right, set on our feet, squeaky clean, and allowed to enjoy Him now.

So, it doesn’t much matter what your issues are. Are they sinful issues? Then get in the tub and get washed. No arguing about how weird the dirt is or where it came from or why you got this way in the first place. Spending time analyzing the dirt is a distraction away from the hot, soapy water.

Mankind tripped and fell in Adam, and it was a long fall into all kinds of troubles. Only a kind Savior can haul us out. So look away from yourself, look away from the sin and trouble, and look to Christ. He is the only One who can save, and He saves us to the uttermost.

- Nancy Wilson

 

CHRISTIAN OBEDIENCE

- by Eric Costa | theokosmos.org

Obedience Is Relational
This may seem obvious, but obedience requires two
parties: the one obeying, and the one obeyed. The
Christian obeys God. Christian obedience is not some sort
of purity detached from relationship to God. We do not
pursue a self-contained morality, as if virtue in itself
meant something. “Getting better” at obedience (a.k.a.
sanctification) is becoming submissive to God. Either we
are righteous for God’s sake, or righteous for the sake of
self (self-righteous, which is to say unrighteous).

Obedience Is Covenantal
The Christian obeys God for reasons stipulated by God.
The Ten Commandments are prefaced with these words:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land
of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” [Exodus 20:1-17]. This
creates the atmosphere in which obedience takes place.
The Christian obeys God because God has shown favor to
him—not so that God will show favor to him. In Jesus
Christ, the Lord of the Covenant sacrificed himself to save
his people from their sin and to redeem them for
righteousness [Ephesians 2:8-10]. This is the ultimate
motivator to Christian obedience.

Obedience Is Glad-Hearted
Good works drawn from a reluctant heart do not
constitute God-honoring obedience. In fact, this is lipservice,
performed for some reason other than a joyful
response to grace—which is the same as disobedience in
God’s eyes [Matthew 15:3-9]. Only the heart made healthy
and glad with salvation can be truly obedient. “The good
person out of the good treasure of his heart produces
good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces
evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth
speaks” [Luke 6:45]. If you truly love your Savior God, then
he cannot ask too much of your allegiance.

Obedience Is Legal
le•gal: adj. of, based on, or concerned with the law.
Christian obedience takes the form of law-keeping.
What’s that you say? Obedience has more to do with love
than with law? What are the greatest precepts of the Law
of God? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and
with all your strength… [and] you shall love your neighbor
as yourself” [Mark 12:28-31]. That’s right, love is a
commandment, the fulfillment of the Law [Romans 13:10]. If
you’re a Christian, you do what God tells you to do
[Romans 8:3-4], which he has told you by way of the moral
Law [Exodus 20:1-17].

Obedience Is Supernatural
Only Christians can obey God rightly [Romans 8:7-8].
Therefore, the merest potential for obedience comes from
outside nature, since just being a Christian is
supernatural [John 3:1-8]. Not only that, but we obey the
will of God by being filled with the Spirit [Ephesians 5:15-21],
by walking in the Spirit [Galatians 5:16-25]. How, then, could
the origin or empowerment of our obedience be anything
but supernatural—unless you would reduce the Holy
Spirit of God to the level of nature?

Obedience Is Necessary
For the Christian to obey God is normal. It is no
extraordinary thing to do what your Lord commands [Luke
17:7-10]—even to deny yourself, take up your cross, and
follow Jesus… daily [Luke 9:23]. But obedience is more than
to-be-expected: it is inevitable. Someone who is saved by
grace through living faith [James 2:20, 26] in Jesus Christ
will certainly obey God. In fact, disobedience points to the
absence of true and saving faith [1 John 2:3-4]. So, although
obedience is not a prerequisite for salvation, it is a
necessary fruit of salvation.

Obedience Is Beautiful
True Christian obedience is haunting, jolting the minds of
our opponents [Titus 2:7-8]. It is compelling, winning
worshipers to our God [Matthew 5:14-16]. We convey
godliness through our good works [1 Timothy 2:8-10],
pleasing the One who calls us to holiness [1 Thessalonians
4:1-8]. The Word of God is more desirable than gold, and
sweeter than honey [Psalm 19:7-10]. This Word produces
obedience in the lives of God’s people by their faith [2
Timothy 3:16-17; Galatians 3:2-3]. Surely that fruit is beautiful.

Friday, April 04, 2008 

Be Nice to Your Wife or Pay the Price

Salarymen -- the black-suited corporate warriors who work long hours, spend long evenings drinking with cronies and stumble home late to long-suffering wives -- have danger waiting for them as they near retirement.

Divorce. A change in Japanese law this year allows a wife who is filing for divorce to claim as much as half her husband's company pension. When the new law went into effect in April, divorce filings across Japan spiked 6.1 percent. Many more split-ups are in the pipeline, marriage counselors predict. They say wives -- hearts gone cold after decades of marital neglect -- are using calculators to ponder pension tables, the new law and the big D.


- Read the rest of the Wall Street Journal on Marriage & Divorce in Japan here

Thursday, April 03, 2008 

Without This You are Nothing

Without this:

  • your friendships are nothing
  • your marriage is nothing
  • your time with your kids is nothing
  • your work ethic is nothing
  • your skills and talents and abilities are nothing
  • your church involvement is nothing
  • your spiritual gifts are nothing
  • your offerings are nothing
  • your good intentions are nothing
  • your faith is nothing

. . . you are nothing.

Do you know what “this” is? The answer is…love. If you think this assessment is too harsh, reread 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Once those verses shake you up a little bit, join us this week as dozens of us memorize Paul’s description of love.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Highlight these verses in your Bible and/or write them a note card. Read them out loud every day. Meditate on their meaning. Pray them into your heart. Celebrate them in worship. And don’t forget the goal: application — apply these verses to your relationships.

To love others like this is to love them the way you have been loved by God in Christ. To love others like this is to be a gospel-shaped person. To love others like this is to have a life that really means something.


- by David King, Pastor of Concord Baptist Church, as posted over at To the Saints at Concord

Wednesday, April 02, 2008 

Arrogant or Accurate?

Once when a Buddhist teacher said that he could not believe that Christ suffered the death of the cross because no king allows his son such indignity, "Judson responded, 'Therefore you are not a disciple of Christ. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the book. His pride has yielded to the divine testimony. Teacher, your pride is still unbroken. Break down your pride, and yield to the word of God." - Adoniram Judson, To the Golden Shore, 240.

"Scripture will ultimately suffice for a saving knowledge of God only when its certainty is founded upon the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit." - John Calvin, Institutes (I, viii, 13).

 

Marriage & the Glory of God

The church has recognized three great purposes of marriage, and all three of these have been subverted by the sexual revolution and its aftermath.

The first is the procreation and nurture of children, if God should grant children to the marriage. This purpose is dishonored by many, but it is honored among believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Children are to be welcomed as gifts to the institution of marriage, transforming husband and wife into father and mother. In our anti-natalist age, some see children as impositions--or worse. The denial of a procreative orientation for marriage--every marriage genuinely open to the gift of children--is a denial of the biblical vision of marriage itself.

The second great purpose of marriage, as the ancient language expresses it, is "as a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication . . . that [believers] might marry and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body." Marriage as a remedy for sin? This purpose is ridiculed among many, but it is honored among Christ's disciples. Paul pointed to marriage as a means of channeling sexual desire into its proper context, lest believers "burn with passion" and sin against God. [1 Corinthians 7:9]

The third great end of marriage is companionship throughout life, through good and bad, comfort and loss, sickness and health, until death parts the husband and wife. The mystery of completeness is expressed in the statement that the two shall become one. When a man and a woman exchange marriage vows, they become one solitary unit. After the exchange of these vows, we can no longer speak of the husband without the wife, or of the wife without the husband. They have become one, both in the physical union of the marital act and in the metaphysical union of the marital bond. As a married couple--husband and wife--they will live to the glory of God with each other, for each other, and to each other.

The end of marriage is its beginning--the glory of God, the mystery of Christ and the church. The exclusivity and purity of the marriage bond points to the exclusivity and purity of the relationship between Christ and His church.

How does marriage glorify God? Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, offers wisdom: "How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in home, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice . . . Nothing divides them either in flesh or in spirit . . . They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God's church and partake God's banquet, side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other's company; they never bring sorrow to each other's hearts . . . Seeing this Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present."

- read full article by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 

6 Observations from a Promise, 4 Reasons for Missions


"I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd." - John 10:16

6 Observations from Christ's Missionary Promise in John 10

1. Jesus calls himself a shepherd.

- Verse 11: "I am the good shepherd."

- Verse 14: "I am the good shepherd."

2. Some sheep are Christ's and some are not.

- Verses 3b-4: "...He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them."

Verse 14: "I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me."

3. The reason some sheep belonged to Jesus so that he could call them his own is that God the Father had given them to the Son.

- Verse 29: "My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

4. Since Jesus knows those who are his, he can call them by name and because they are already his they follow.

- Verses 3b-4: The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own he goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

- Verse 27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

- Verse 26: You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.

5. But that is not all that Jesus does for his sheep.

- Verse 11: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

- Verses 14-15: I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

6. On the basis of this sacrifice Jesus gives eternal life to his sheep and it can never be taken away.

- Verses 27-30: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.


4 Reasons We Should Do Missions Confidently

1. Christ has people besides those already converted—other people besides us.

2. The verse implies that the "other sheep" that Christ has are scattered outside the present fold.

3. The Lord has committed himself to bring his lost sheep home.

4. If he brings them they will come!

"I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice." - John 10:16

- John Piper from the Don't Waste Your Life Conference

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