Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Price of Christmas

by John Richard, ACTION Missionary

Scripture Readings: Matthew 1:18-21; 2:16-18; Luke 2:33-35

Since we are called to celebrate a Christian Christmas, we need to remind ourselves of an important truth, namely, that there was a price to be paid by those connected with the Christmas event.

Nine Observations:
1. The parting that the Father underwent
2. The poverty that the Son embraced
3. The condescension that the Spirit showed
4. The shame that Mary endured
5. The stigma that Joseph carried
6. The anguish that the Bethlehem homes suffered
7. The interruption that the shepherds experienced
8. The trouble that the wise men took
9. The sword that Mary anticipated

1. The parting that the Father underwent
Of His own accord did God, the Father, part with His only begotten Son, the Son of His love. There was no other way to rescue fallen man. That was Christmas.

2. The poverty that the Son endured
God, the Son, had to vacate the richest place in heaven, even the bosom of the Father. Though He was rich, yet He became poor. How poor? Not as a king born in a royal chamber did He come. In lowly birth He came. So lowly that His cradle was the manger. His curtains were the cobwebs, and His companions, the oxen and the donkeys.

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem homes was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity;
The foxes found rest and the birds their rest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod
In the deserts of Galilee.

That was Christmas.

3. The condescension that the Spirit showed
God, the Holy Spirit, condescended to come upon a virgin, who like every other human, was stained with original sin. He had to purify her womb and make it meet to bear the Holy One, the sinless Son of God. That was Christmas.

4. The shame that Mary endured
Mary made her body available for the incredible thing to be performed in her and through her. An event that set wagging tongues cast aspersions on her chastity. That was Christmas.

5. The stigma that Joseph carried
Joseph fared no better than Mary. Undoubtedly, he had fathered Jesus ! It could not be otherwise. This palming off the responsibility to the Holy Spirit. Whoever can swallow such a story? Don’t you see Joseph could not after all put away Mary? That was Christmas.

6. The anguish that the Bethlehem homes suffered
The Bethlehem mothers had to witness the awful spectacle of seeing their two-year old baby boys slain under their very eyes. Screams of anguish arose from Ramah. Rachel was weeping for her children unrestrainedly. That was Christmas.

7. The interruption that the shepherds experienced
The shepherds had to act on the angelic announcement. For them it meant leaving their flock and going with haste to seek out the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. They were prepared to have their normal pastoral life disturbed. That was Christmas.

8. The trouble that the wise men took
The wise men, too, took a long arduous journey. All the way from the East led by a star to a place they knew not where. More than that they presented the Babe with their choicest treasures: gold, symbolic of Christ, the King; frankincense, symbolic of Christ, the priest; and myrrh , symbolic of Christ, the prophet. That was Christmas.

9. The sword that Mary anticipated
Remember Simeon’s message to Mary at the Jerusalem Temple: “A sword shall pierce your soul, for this child shall be rejected by many in Israel …” That was Christmas.

What does Christmas mean to you?
A voluntary giving up of a prized darling?
A willingness to quit the comfort of security?
A willingness to be ridiculed and reproached for the sake of Christ?
A willingness to soil our hands with unlovely things?
A willingness to give of our sons and daughters to defend the cause of Christ?
A willingness to have the daily pattern of our lives disturbed?
A willingness to take hazardous duties?
A willingness to part with our material wealth?

If these be evidenced in you, then Christ’s coming is not in vain.

Christmas is really paying the price of Christian discipleship. And discipleship is an affair of great cost. It may cost a man his life; it may cost him lifelong separation from his nearest relatives; it may set him at variance with his loved ones; it may require him to pack up and go wherever Christ may send him; it will require of him the sacrifice of ease and self-indulgence; it will make demands upon his time, his money, his talents.

In short, he has to give his heart to Christ and make himself available to do His bidding according to His good pleasure.

“Tho’ Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in thee
Thy soul is still forlorn.” (Angelus Silesius)
-- John Richard

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Gospel and Compassionate Care for Global AIDS Crisis

The following statistics are taken from the book, “The Skeptics Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis”

1. “Nine out of ten children living with AIDS are African.” (page 11)

2. “By 2010, it is estimated that there will be 25 million AIDS orphans in the World. (page 17)

3. “Nearly 6000 young people, between the ages of 15 and 25, are infected every day.” (page 19)

4. “In African countries, studies estimate that between 19 percent and 53 percent of all government health employee deaths are caused by AIDS.” (page 21)

5. “Sub-Saharan Africa is home to just 10 percent of the world’s population and more than two-thirds of all people living with HIV.” (page 35)

6. “India has the largest number of people living with HIV outside of South Africa ― 5.1 million.” (page 53)

As a team, ACTION continues to emphasize the needs resulting from the AIDS pandemic in Africa and India. We are trusting God for many additional missionaries to serve in Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and India. ACTION is making a special effort through our AIDS & Orphan Crisis Care & Evangelism Ministry to reach as many as possible with the Gospel and compassionate care.

Statistics taken from “The Skeptics Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis
by Dale Hanson Bourke, Authentic Publishing

Monday, December 21, 2009

Child Labor 2

Around the world, many are involved in unreasonable hours of family-based responsibility. We met children who had never been to school, because they were required to watch the family’s small herd of goats for over twelve hours per day, every day. Or girls of eight or nine who had sole responsibility to care for a baby sibling all day, every day, while both parents worked.

At least 126 million find themselves in the worst forms of child labor: slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, and other forced labor. Some experience highly hazardous situations, such as working in mines, with chemicals and pesticides or with dangerous machinery. Girls from northern India have been sold to families from the Middle East as home slaves. Many children are unseen, laboring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations. They might pick cocoa beans all day long, but never taste chocolate themselves.

In some parts of northern India, children are sold to pay off debts, their parents believing they are being sent to work in good jobs in other parts of the world. In fact, they are being sent into the trafficking industry to work as bonded slaves.

The most distressing and demeaning form of child labor is sexual exploitation. Over 1.8 million children are trapped in the sex trades: prostitution, pornography and other illicit activities. [UNICEF, Annual Report 2007.] The sexual exploitation of women and children is the third largest illicit industry on the planet (just behind the sale of illegal arms and drugs). [United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, “Briefing Note 8: Statistics on Human Trafficking in South Asia,” UN-GIFT – Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, www.giftasia.in (accessed August 11, 2008).] It’s lucrative for some. Life-shattering for others. [Pages 87, 88]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Child Labor

For some children, the abuse comes in the form of work expectations. Over 218 million children, aged 5-17, are engaged in child labor throughout the world. [UNICEF, “Child Labor,” www.unicef.org (accessed June 20, 2007).] Perhaps you have seen some of them in a marketplace somewhere around the world, selling their wares: bags, newspaper for wrapping purchased items, tissues, bottles of water, or candy. They’re just trying to survive. [Page 87]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Teachers Who Change Lives

Children’s leaders, together with pastors and others in our believing communities, need to search for answers to these questions (and more that will be asked in the future) to fully equip themselves to serve children in this rapidly changing world.

What kind of teacher can help a child grow strong in faith for a lifetime? The story of Nehemiah offers powerful insight. Remember the story? As the people worked to rebuild the temple, they discovered they Book of the Law. It had been hidden away for years.

Nehemiah called all the people together. Ezra and his team of temple leaders took the lead. “They read from the Book of the Law of God, making clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read” (Nehemiah 8:8 NIV).

This is the job of our teachers. They need to know God’s Word deeply for themselves, then help children understand. Often, this means using creativity, humor, stories, object lessons, puppets, drama – whatever creative communication tools might be available – to help children understand the truth from God’s Word. The message needs to be translated into a language all children can understand. In every community I’ve visited, this always includes fun and humor.

So what kind of impact can this teaching have? Several verses later in Nehemiah, we read that the people wept. They repented. They understood the truth from God’s law, and wanted to live in new ways. The teaching resulted in a change of behavior. They were transformed.

Is this what happens when we teach? Is this the kind of teaching that takes place in our churches?

As people teach children, they also grow themselves. One teacher in Africa said, “I used to always narrate Bible stories to children every Sunday when I met with them, but now I need to help them apply the Bible truth of each story to their lives. This has changed my own personal life a great deal as well as the life of my children.”

I believe we need excellent teachers more than ever. Kids do not need simple childcare. They need prepared, trained, mature, knowledgeable, genuine, growing – and tremendously fund and enjoyable people – to help them grow to love Jesus the most. [Page 188]


Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Effects of War on Children

When my children were in elementary school, I never let them walk home from school alone. There were too many dangers on the way: bad people, fast cars, and other kids. My worries are nothing compared to those of mothers living in areas of war and conflict around the world.

In recent years, stories of “invisible children” have gripped our hearts. In northern Uganda, thousands of children travel by night to the cities to sleep. In doing so, they hope to escape being kidnapped to serve as child soldiers. At least 250,000 young people under 18 are exploited as child soldiers around the world.

In Liberia, during the civil war, we heard stories of children lured with the promise of a house, car, and steady income after their service. This was very appealing in a country with up to 90% unemployment. After enlisting, children were transported to a different country and trained in guerilla warfare techniques. Upon returning to Liberia as soldiers, still only children and young teens, many were required to prove their loyalty to the army by returning to their home towns to shoot a family member. Often, the assigned targets were their own mothers.

Others were kidnapped and forced to act as soldiers, spies, or slaves for older military members. both boys and girls have been targets, with boys being taught to kill, girls being forced to serve as slaves and to provide sexual services to soldiers. Millions of other children living in areas of war and conflict will never be asked to serve as child soldiers. They face other troubles.

Some will give their lives. “During World War I, civilians made up fewer than five percent of all casualties. Today, 75 percent or more of those killed or wounded in wars are non-combatants, with nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in conflict in recent decades being children.” [“The World at War,” www.globalsecurity.org.]

In 2007 almost 14 million people were forced from their countries as refugees. [US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, “The World’s Refugees, 2006,” World Almanac 2008, 850.] 14 million. Imagine if all the people of the whole nation of Guatemala were suddenly without a home – or everyone in the whole state of Illinois (including Chicago). The number is about the same. Where would they go? How would they live?

The number of people internally displaced (meaning they didn’t leave their countries, but still fled their homes) is 24.5 million, nearly twice as many as other refugees. These families are equally challenged.

Consider the impact for children. Their daily routines are disrupted. Children may not be able to attend school. Often their friends and support systems are missing. Many lose track of parents or family members as they flee. Families often lose their homes and belongings.

For many children, the invisible wounds of war leave the greatest mark. We heard of one young girl whose village was attacked by rebels. Residents were led into the center of town, where they were all slaughtered. Somehow, she survived, hidden under those who fell. After she was sure the attackers were gone, she freed herself, walking out across all the bodies.

Rescuers found her and were amazed. For weeks, she was silent about the ordeal. Finally, she began to share her horror. It was not the fear of being shot, or the feeling of being trapped in the midst of all the bodies that lingered. In her village, placing the bottom of one’s foot on someone was a sign of ultimate disrespect. Somehow, she could not free herself from the feelings of guilt at having walked over all those people she honored and loved.

Why doesn’t this madness stop? Around the year 2000, the UN created Millennium Development Goals with the aim of improving the world through human development by 2015. The goals were agreed to by the UN’s 191 member states. It was estimated that the goals for reducing poverty, child abuse, and disease, and also improving education, literacy, and health care around the world could be achieved at an annual cost of $40-70 billion. In comparison, global military spending in 2005 totaled $956 billion. [Associated Press, “Half of Kids Suffer War, Poverty, AIDS.”] (UPDATE: The world’s nations are now spending more than one trillion per year to wage our wars.) ["The World at War" www.globalsecurity.org.]

Christians are at the forefront of peace and reconciliation movements. They’re active in serving refugees and displaced persons, they’re meeting needs where possible. But the global culture hasn’t changed. Stopping conflicts and caring for the children simply does not seem to be a worldwide priority. [Pages 84-86]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Few Suggestions for Living and Service (for new missionaries)

1. No Bible, no breakfast! Regular daily devotions. Be serious about this.
2. Read! Read! Read! Read good books and read the Bible through at least once
yearly! “Grow in grace and knowledge of Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Someone said, “If
you do not read, you will not grow.”
3. Live by faith.
4. Build friendships with local believers, unbelievers and fellow
missionaries.
5. Network for the glory of God.
6. Preach the Gospel to others and to yourself daily.
7. Practice hospitality whether you are single or married. Do this often.
8. Love, love, love. Learn to love the Savior, love saints, and love sinners.
9. Put on humility daily. “… clothe yourselves with humility toward
one another, for God
is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” (1
Peter 5:5b, nasb).
10. Be a servant of Christ by serving others. You get the coffee and
tea for others;
make sure others have a seat and are served before you; open the
door for others.
Remember manners are “the kindness of Christ in action.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

HIV/AIDS & Disease

Over 38 million people live with HIV/AIDS across the world. Every minute of the day, 4 peopld die of AIDS-related causes, and 5 people are newly infected. It’s a battle that is really hard to win.

This would be a horrific problem, even if it only impacted adults, but it doesn’t. Worldwide, over 2.3 million children under 15 live with HIV/AIDS. What’s the nearest large city to you? Does this equal the population of that city? What portion? And every day, more than 1000 children are newly infected with HIV/AIDS. [UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2008, 21.]

In addition, at least 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, most in sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that a child loses a parent to AIDS-related causes every 14 seconds. By 2010, the number of children orphaned by AIDS globally is expected to exceed 25 million. [UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2008, 21.] [Page 83]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Should We Celebrate Christmas on December 25?

Well, it’s “the most wonderful time of year” again! That familiar phrase from the well-known Christmas song is at once both an exciting statement as well as a confusing sentence. Simply put, our world is a realm which is chronically drunk with frequent incremental celebrations throughout the year, most of which are void of any substantial purpose for our lives. And chief among those celebrations is the “Christmas” time of year.

The time of year of Christ’s birth can be deduced from both the Bible and secular history as NOT being during the month of December, let alone being specifically on December 25th! In fact, most conservative NT scholars say the time of Christ’s birth was probably springtime or an early fall event. The reason for the late December dating was no doubt a Romanesque touch which added yet another celebration to its calendar! I am sure that their thinking went like something like this, “Why not add another celebration to our pantheon of parties which celebrates the virgin birth of Jesus (which was really a virgin conception, not a birth)!? So, in considering the pagan origin of December 25th, is there still Scriptural warrant for celebrating the birth of the Son of God – especially at this time of year? The answer is a resounding yes!

There are two key texts: Matthew 2:9-11(esv) reads, after listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh; and Luke 2:18-20 (esv), And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The shepherds were mere men. We are mere men, women and children. They praised God and worshipped at the news that the Savior of the world had arrived into His very own sin-soaked world (Colossians 1:16). Now that’s news to celebrate!!

Pastor Jerry Marcellino
Audubon Drive Bible Church
www.audubonchurch.org

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Will We Reach Out to Kids as People Who Also Need Jesus?

When we ignore children, we not only miss the unreached, but also a large percentage of the potential Christian workers of the world. Nearly 10% of our total world population is Christian children (people under the age of 15). How many are growing in Christ? How many are getting to church? What else are all those children doing? Some may be too young to join in. Others are challenged by poverty. But millions are ready and waiting to be part of reaching our world for Christ. We need to nurture our children to become the next generation of leaders. [Page 75]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Adopted for Life (The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches)

1. Abba Father
More important than your name, however, is hearing it called out by One you've come to know, or rather who has come to know you. When you see him for the first time face-to-face, when your legal adoption is fully realized, the Spirit within you will cry out, "Abba! Father!" And you'll hear another voice, louder than all the others, cry out the same thing. You'll turn to see him, the Messiah of Israel, the Emperor of the universe, Jesus of Nazareth. And you'll call him "brother." (page 43)

2. Slaves No More
The pull toward slave nostalgia is a real danger for all of us. Satan once held all of us in "lifelong slavery" through our "fear of death" (Heb. 2:15). The temptation for all of us is to shrink back to the petty protectors we once hid behind, to be slaves again to placate the Grim Reaper. That's why Paul could thunder to the Galatians, "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?" (Gal. 4:8-9). Perhaps the most striking aspect of this rebuke is the apostle's insistence that the believ¬ers want to be slaves again. Why? They're afraid.

Jesus, by contrast, is pronounced the "beloved Son" of God, is likewise brought through the waters of baptism, and is then tempted by the Evil One to believe that a Father who promises ( him bread would give him only stones (Matt. 3:13-4:4). Listening to his Father's voice, even to the point of crucifixion and apparent abandonment by God, he "learned obedience through what he suf¬fered," and "he was heard" (Heb. 5:7-8). Jesus isn't fearful because he knows who he is. (page 49)

3. Satan’s War Against Babies
The demonic powers hate babies because they hate Jesus. When they destroy "the least of these" (Matt. 25:40, 45), the most vulner¬able among us, they're destroying a picture of Jesus himself, of the child delivered by the woman who crushes their head (Gen. 3:15). They know the human race is saved-and they're vanquished-by a woman giving birth (Gal. 4:4; 1 Tim. 2:15). They are grinding apart Jesus' brothers and sisters (Matt. 25:40). They are also destroying the very picture of newness of life and of dependent trust that char¬acterizes life in the kingdom of Christ (Matt. 18:4). Children also mean blessing -a perfect target for those who seek only to kill and destroy (John 10:10).

The demonic powers are, we must remember, rebel angels¬ - angels created to be "ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14). In rebelling against this calling, the servants are in revolt against the sons, and that kind of insurrection leads to murder, as we've seen in other con¬texts (e.g., Mark 12:1-12). As James tells us, our lust for things we can't have leads to wars among us (James 4:2). The same is true in the heavenly places. The satanic powers want the kingdoms of the universe -and a baby uproots their reign. So they rage all the more against the babies and children who image him. As the wisdom of God announces, "All who hate me love death" (Prov. 8:36). (page 64)

4. Protect God’s Children
The protection of children isn't charity. It isn't part of a politi¬cal program fitting somewhere between tax cuts and gun rights or between carbon emission caps and a national service corps. It's spiritual warfare.

Our God forbids Israel from offering their children to Molech, a demon-god who demands the violent sacrifice of human babies (Lev. 20:1-8). Indeed, he denounces Molech by name. He further warns that he will cut off from the people of God not only the one who practiced such sacrifice but also all who "at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech" (Lev. 20:4). Behind Molech, God recognizes, there is one who is "a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44).

The spirit of Molech is at work among us even now. Even as you read this page, there are bones of babies being ground to unrecogniz¬able bits, perhaps even a few short miles from where you're sitting. There are babies lying in garbage receptacles, waiting to be taken away as "medical waste." These infants won't have names until Jesus calls them out for the first time. There are little girls waiting in Asia for a knock at the door, for an American businessman who's paid a pimp to be able to sexually assault them. There are children staring out the window of a social worker's office, rubbing their bruises as they hear their mother tell the police why she'll never do it again.

Aborted babies can't say, "Abba." But the Father hears their cries anyway. Do we?
The universe is at war, and some babies and children are on the line. The old serpent is coiled right now, his tongue flicking, watching for infants and children he can consume. One night two thousand years ago, all that stood in his way was one reluctant day laborer who decided to be a father. (pages 65-66)

5. Adoption Culture in Churches
An orphan-protecting adoption culture is countercultural - and has been. Some of the earliest records we have of the Christian’s speak of how Christians, remarkably, protected children in the face of a culture of death pervasive in the Roman Empire. The followers of Jesus, though, did not kill their offspring, even when it would have made economic or social sense to do so. This is still distinctively Christian in a world that increasingly sees children as, a commodity to be controlled and, at worst, a nuisance to be contained. Think of how revolutionary it is for Christians to adopt a young boy with a cleft palate from a region of India where most see him as "defective." Think of how counterintuitive it is Christians to adopt a Chinese girl-when many there see her as disappointment. Think of how odd it must seem to American secu¬larists to see Christians adopting a baby whose body trembles with addiction to the cocaine her mother sent through her bloodstream before birth. Think of the kind of credibility such action lends to the proclamation of our gospel.

Adoption culture in our churches advances the cause of life, even beyond the individual lives of the children adopted. Imagine if Christian churches were known as the places where unwanted babies became beloved children. If this were the case across the round the world, sure, there would still be abortions, there would still be abusive homes. But wouldn't we see more women will¬ing to give their children life if they'd seen with their own eyes what adoption culture looks like? And wouldn't these mothers and who may themselves feel unwanted, be a bit more ready to hear our talk about a kingdom where all are welcomed? (page 79)

6. The Call to Believers
Not every believer will take a pregnant teenager into his or her guest bedroom. Not every believer is called to adopt children. But every believer is called to recognize Jesus in the face of his little brothers and sisters when he decides to show up in their lives, even if it inter¬rupts everything else. (page 81)

7. The Call to Compassion
Thousands of years ago, a man named Job recognized that his own judgment would have to do with his treatment of orphans. In the book of Job, the suffering man told God that he would neither withhold food or raise his hand against the fatherless (Job 31:16-22). Job said instead that "from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father, and from my mother's womb I guided the widow" (Job 31:18). Why was this so? Job said, "For I was in terror of calam¬ity from God, and I could not have faced his majesty" (Job 31:23).

Joseph's faith was the same kind of faith that saves us. Very few, if any, of us will have a dream directing us to adopt a child. None of us will be directed to do what Joseph did - to teach Jesus Christ how to saw through wood or to recite Deuteronomy in Hebrew. But all of us are called to be compassionate. All of us are called to remember the poor. All of us are called to remember the fatherless and the wid¬ows. That will look different in our different lives, with the different situations and resources God has given us. But for all of us there’ll be a judgment to test the genuineness of our faith. And for some of us, there’ll be some orphan faces there. (pages 82-83)

8. Choose Peace, Life and Love
What if a mighty battalion of Christian parents would open their hearts and their homes to unwanted infants - infants some so-called "clinics" would like to see carried out with the medical waste? It might mean that next Christmas there'll be one more stocking at the chimney at your house - a new son or daughter who escaped the abortionist's knife or the orphanage's grip to find at your knee the grace of a carpenter's Son.

Planned Parenthood thinks "Choice on Earth" is the message of Christmas, and perhaps it is in a Christmas culture more identi¬fied with shopping malls than with churches. But we know better, or at least we should. Let's follow the footsteps of the other man at the manger, the quiet one. And as we read the proclamation of the shepherds, exploding in the sky as a declaration of war, let's remind a miserable generation there are some things more joyous than choice - things like peace and life and love.

9. Consequences to Sin
So, what if you're not sure if you're a follower of Jesus or if you know you don't believe all these claims of "good news"? Might it be that the infertility is God's getting at you for your lack of faith? God has told us how he deals with sinners, and this isn't it. As a matter of fact, the Bible is filled with righteous people crying out to God as to why he lets the wicked prosper. You've seen that guy you know is cheating on his wife pushing the stroller down the sidewalk. Prostitutes and slumlords and child molesters all become pregnant or have children. That isn't a sign of God's approval of their lives, and your infertility isn't a sign of God's disfavor.

As a matter of fact, as we've seen earlier, if you don't know Christ, God is not disciplining you at all (Heb. 12:8), though he is sovereign over everything that happens in your life. He is calling you to be found in Christ, and the curse that awaits you comes at judgment, not now. For now there's a temporary suspension of doom, and God is doing good to you, as you can see by the air you're breathing and the blood pushing through your veins (Acts 14: 16-17). As Jesus tells his disciples, the horrible circumstances that happen to people in this life aren't a one-to-one 'retaliation for sin (Luke 13:1-4). But Jesus does tell us that if we don't repent, these things-be it infertility or towers falling on us-will be the least of our problems.

Jesus rebukes his disciples' assumptions that a man born blind is being particularly punished, either for his sin or for that of his parents (John 9:1-3). Jesus recognizes, though, that blindness is not good; it is part of a universe in which God's reign is not yet real¬ized. It's right to be sad about infertility. That's why God so often in Scripture hears the prayers of barren women. (page 90)

Source: Adopted for Life (The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches)by Russell D. Moore, Crossway Books

Friday, December 4, 2009

Statistics of Suffering

The following are statistics of suffering from the new book, “The Poor Will Be Glad” by Peter Greer and Phil Smith:

1.Hunger: Approximately 850 million people go to bed hungry every night and search for creative ways to ignore their discomfort. [page 25]

2.Child Mortality: Worldwide, eleven million children die every year before reaching their fifth birthday. That translates to thirty thousand children who die each day from hunger and preventable disease ― one child every three seconds. [page 25]

3.Drinking Water: Twenty percent of the world has no access to clean water. Millions more walk long distances to carry every drop of water to their homes. (Geography IQ, “Infant Mortality Rate,” www.geographyiq.com/ranking/ranking_Infant_Mortality_Rate_aall.htm (August 19, 2008). [page 25]

4.Diarrhea: In the developing world, diarrhea wracks the thin bodies of tens of millions of children who have no access to diapers or plumbing ― and it kills between 1.6 and 2.5 million children every year. (University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, “Novel Compound May Treat Acute Diarrhea,” Science Daily, June 21, 2008, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080616170801.htm (August 19, 2008). [page 25]

5.Health Care: More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities. The result is ten million annual deaths from the four most common preventable diseases: diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles. In many cases, one simple shot could save a life. (Mark Kinver, “Water Policy ‘Fails World’s Poor,’” BBC News on the Web, March 9, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4787758.stm (August 19, 2008). [page 26]

6.Women’s Rights: An Afghan man was told that his sick daughter’s life could be saved if he took her across a dangerous mountain pass to medical care in a city two hours away. “No, I don’t want to do that,” he responded. “Girls are free, but donkeys cost money.” (Kirk Magelby, “MicroFranchises as a Solution to Global Poverty,” December 2005, www.microfranchises.org/file.php?id=35 (August 19, 2008). [page 27]

7.Employment: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, only 10 percent of the entire population is formally employed. There simply are no formal employment options, no “Help Wanted” signs, and no employers who are legally mandated to provide a minimum wage and other rights. [page 27]

8.Poverty: As of July 2007, there were approximately 6.6 billion people living on earth. Approximately four billion live on less than $4 per day, nearly all of whom live in developing countries. Their incomes are distributed in the following way:

a. One billion live on less than $1 per day.
b. Two billion live on $1 to $2 per day.
c. One billion live on $2 to $4 per day.

For a more complete analysis of the breakdown of poverty and the difference between the countries moving out of poverty and those stuck in a poverty trap, we recommend The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). [page 29]

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Church Is Not Reaching Everyone -- Yet

Missions leaders divide the world into three groups to help us better understand what is taking place:

World C – 33% (Christianized nations)
It is surprising to learn that at least 78% of all Christian missionaries work in countries that are already Christianized, such as Zimbabwe, Russia, France, Brazil and the US. At the turn of the millennium, over $13 billion was being spent each year to reach people in these nations. Over 90% of all Christian literature, radio and TV was directed to reach people in World C. Everyone has not responded to receive Christ, but the gospel is readily available in these nations.

World B – 39% (some gospel presence, some Christians)
About 18% of all missionaries work in these partly reached countries. Records show that 9% of Christian literature and 4% of Christian radio/TV end up here. Some of these nations are even sending nations (such as India and South Korea).

World A – 28% (The unevangelized world: those who do not have Christ, Christianity or the gospel available to them.)
This group receives less than one-tenth of one percent of all the Christian literature, radio and TV ministry in the world. Only 3% of the world’s missionaries work here. [World Christian Database, www.worldchristiandatabase.org (“Missionaries Sent,” accessed October 29, 2008). Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends.]

No wonder so many people are still unreached! Who decides how these resources get used, anyway?

The idea isn’t to work less in World B or World C, but to do much more new work in World A. [Pages 63, 64]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Is There Really More to be Done?

One of the biggest concerns for mission leaders is that we start to think the job is finished. We need to celebrate when many come to Christ. The angels in heaven rejoice when just one sinner comes to repentance. But we must inform ourselves about the realities, and guard against the feeling that there is no more work to do:

The truth is, 4.4 billion people on our planet do not know Jesus.

The truth is, currently, at least 1.87 billion people live in areas with no gospel presence at all (World A).

The truth is, in spite of major growth efforts, the percentage of people who call themselves Christian around the world has stayed essentially the same since the beginning of the 1900s (about 34%). We haven’t grown percentage-wise for the past 100 years. [Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 40; Market, “Global Christianity.”]
The truth is that 6500 people groups still do not have a Christian witness at all.

The truth is…we are not there yet. [Page 64]

Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Church is Growing

To being with, over 2.2 billion people now call themselves Christian, more than any other religious group in the world. Since the days of the disciples, the growth has never stopped. Christianity adds more than 28 million people to the church worldwide each year.

A significant part of what’s happening today in the Christian world is happening China. In China, it is estimated that over 100 million people are Christians. They are already fourth on the list of countries with the most Christians in the world. It doesn’t make the evening news, but every day, at least 10,000 new believers are added to the church. [Johnson, “World Christian Trends 2005.”]

In Afghanistan, before 2002, researchers counted about 75 believers. Just two years later, in mid-2004, there were over 8000, with believers in every single one of the 34 provinces. One year later, the Christian population had tripled!

In Kenya, so many churches have been planted that I heard one Kenyan pastor say, “If you stand on any street corner in Nairobi and throw a stone, you will hit a church.” The buildings are everywhere! [Pages 57, 58]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where Are We Going?

Researchers count over 16,000 distinct people groups. Nearly 10,000 are considered “reached,” with the gospel available for people to encounter. This does not mean every person has responded to receive Christ, but rather that the gospel is available to them. And unreached people group is one with no visible indigenous witness (church) of Jesus Christ and where the gospel is therefore unavailable or inaccessible. Currently, there are about 6,500 unreached groups. [“Global Progress,” Joshua Project.] The task is far from finished. [Page 47]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So, why focus on ministry to kids?

As we consider how to reach the 4 billion people on our planet who do not know Jesus (yet), it is essential that we consider ministry to kids, not just adults. Let’s review the reasons:

Kids are everywhere! There are 2.2 billion children under 18 (33% of our world). In many of the developing countries, where we find the greatest population of unreached people, kids are at least 50% of the population. Although they do not fit the exact definition of a “people group,” because they belong to so many different cultural backgrounds, together their numbers make them the largest unreached group on our planet.

Kids are unreachable: They have the time to listen, the availability, and the interest. They are not afraid to respond when they feel the Holy Spirit drawing them to Christ. In several Campus Crusade trainings I’ve been part of, we learned that 25% of people will likely respond to receive the gospel when it is presented personally, fully. In my over 20 years of evangelism experience, I find that nearly 50% of kids are likely to respond. Not a small thing. In some ways, kids are like the guests in the parable of the banquet in Luke 14. They are invited last to the celebration, yet are the most available to attend and to respond to the generous gifts of the King.

The powers of this world know kids are reachable, too. In the Muslim world, strong emphasis is placed on teaching the way of Islam to children before the age of five. We’ve heard stories of eight-year-old children so committed to their faith they were willing and ready to become suicide bombers.

Alternately, media and marketing gurus know that they need to capture the hearts of children early with brand names…then keep them for life. Kids are targeted around the world.

The harvest is ripe; children are ready for the gospel.

Kids are needy and poor: The UN estimates that nearly half of the world’s population of children live in poverty. With other risk factors added in, nearly 2/3 of our planet’s children love in “at risk” situations. Again, most of these children are unreached. Considering the work of Christ outlined in Isaiah 61, to “preach good news to the poor,” to “bind up the brokenhearted,” to “free the captive,” etc., we easily see that this entire passage could be a call to ministry to children. God’s heart is to rescue children, the most vulnerable group of people on our planet.

Kids are teachable: Unlike adults, kids have much less to “unlearn” when they come to Christ. They are eager to understand what it means to follow Jesus, and to obey. People who come to Christ as children are most likely to follow Jesus for a lifetime. Kids are ready and waiting.

In addition, kids are the key to transformation. When we pour the love of Christ into their lives, teaching them to follow Christ wholeheartedly, they will not only change personally, but they will impact their families, their communities, and their nations.

Kids are connected to families: As children come to Christ, they often open doors for the gospel to be shared with their families. In Muslim areas, this opportunity must be handled with great prayer and respect. But kids often bring their entire families to Christ shortly after believing in him.

Kids have great potential – to reach more kids – and others! Children can also learn to share the gospel with their friends. Their friends are also reachable, teachable and connected to families. Kids can be part of reaching future generations for Christ if we get with the program. Kids have amazing potential to not only be tomorrow’s church, but the church of today.

Mission leaders are beginning to catch the vision. Dan Brewster of Compassion International and Patrick McDonald of VIVA Network in their booklet, Children—The Great Omission?, say, “We believe that children and young people should be the single greatest priority for Christian work in the coming decade.” [Brewster and McDonald, Great Omission, 3.] [Pages 32-34]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do Hard Hearts Glorify God?

God says in Exodus 7:3, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.”Sometimes God will do things that seem “not quite right” to glorify His Name.

Even though it is difficult, we can trust God in these days of disease, financial depression, and a US Congress and administration running “amuck.”

It is hard to understand why leaders seem to have turned a blind eye to common sense and wickedness.

Slavery ended in this country in 18665. Why then is our government putting the whole nation in slavery again but this time to extreme indebtedness? Common economic sense teaches that one does not continually borrow and spend money that one does not have!

Even though people do not believe the Bible any longer, common sense and morality teaches that you do steal. It is against the law and yet the President and Congress continue to take money which is not theirs and spend it in projects that continue to add to the unemployment and debt. They are putting future generations into the slavery of debt!

Even though health care can be improved in this country, it is still the best in the world. One need not destroy it in order to build something which puts the country further into debt and which ends up not helping the people it was designed to help, especially the sick!

With the present leadership in the US, it seems as if the country is going from bad to worse with “real” unemployment between 17% and 22%. Yet, the government continues to spend, spend, spend. This also hurts the poor throughout the world and causes a terrible plight on missions.

Even though we do not understand the hardness of heart of the President and many in Congress, we can trust God that He will glorify His Name through their wickedness.

Children and the Lost Sheep

At least 67 out of 100 kids in our world are lost, outside the fold. That’s 1.4 billion kids who are waiting to know Jesus for themselves. Every minute, at least 168 new kids are born into families that do not know Jesus. In addition, those “in the fold” face serious challenges keeping them from growing to love Jesus for a lifetime. The heart of Christ himself compels us to do something about it. [Page 32]

Taken from Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

What Does God Think About Children?


Children Are a Gift from God: Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children are a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them (Psalm 127:3-5 NIV). 

Become Like Little Children: He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4 NIV).  

Welcome a Child: He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:36-37 NIV). 

Jesus Calls for the Children: People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…and he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them" (Mark 10:13-16 NIV).

Taken from Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Global Challenges Are Also On The Rise

Taken from: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Disease Threatens: Nearly 39 million people live with HIV/AIDS and the number is still on the rise. More than 6800 people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS every day.

Over 2.1 million people die each year of AIDS. This trend has left entire nations without enough adults to harvest crops, conduct commerce or raise children. It is estimated that 15 million children have lost one or both parents as a result of AIDS since 1981. [UNICEF, Annual Report 2007.]

As sobering as these statistics are, the reality is that other preventable diseases cause even more deaths. Every three seconds, a child dies from the effects of unclean drinking water, malaria, or other preventable diseases. [UNICEF, World’s Children, 8.] With new strains of bacteria and new virus threats discovered regularly, basic health care and health education elude many.

Poverty: Eighty percent of the world’s population lives on under $10 per day. Over half of the world’s children suffer from poverty. As these children grow older, they often find themselves trapped inside a system that gives them little opportunity to escape the cycle. How will they survive? How will they grow?

War and Conflict: War is no longer only for the grown men of the world’s nations. Nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in conflict during the 1990s were children. [UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2004 (New York, December 2004).] At least 250,000 kids are forced to work as child soldiers. [UNICEF, Annual Report 2007.] At least 14 million children and their families fled their countries because of nearby fighting and live as refugees. War impacts women, children, and entire populations. [Pages 22, 23]

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Did Someone Forget the Kids?

Is There Really A Problem Here?

Global population is 6.7 billion and growing. At least 28% are under the age of 15. If we extend the age to 25, half our planet is youth. And half of these, according to the UN, are living in poverty. [CIA World Fact Book, s.v. “World;” Associated Press, “Half of Kids Suffer War, Poverty, AIDS.”] [Page 28]

…Christian children represent ten percent of the world’s total population. [“Tabel C,” IBMR, p. 30.] Patrick McDonald and Dan Brewster say, “Most people who make significant faith decisions do so before the age of 18, but less than fifteen percent of our efforts are directed to ministry amongst children. [Brewster and McDonald, Great Omission, 3.] [Page 28]

In a recent poll by the World Evangelical Association, two-thirds of the churches reporting from around the world indicated they had little or no ministry to children. One-third indicated a desire to make this a priority. [Kathleen J. Graham, World Evangelical Alliance, email to author.] [Page 28]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Corporate Powers

Global trade is booming. Not only does this mean that people across the globe are familiar with brands like McDonalds, Starbucks, Toyota and Coca-Cola, but it is changing the balance of economic power. In fact, 40 of the world’s 100 largest economies are not nations, but corporations. Exxon is bigger than Sweden; AT&T is bigger than Hungary; Home Depot is bigger than Egypt. Wal-Mart by itself is larger than the economies of over 200 different nations of the world! [CIA World Fact Book, world economies; “Our Annual Ranking of America’s Largest Corporations, 2008,” Fortune Magazine, www.cnnmoney.com (accessed October 24, 2008).] [Page 21]

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Global Power is Shifting

China: Chinese citizens have just recently been allowed to participate in a market economy by starting private businesses. Already there are at least 85 million businesses in China. The US has only 26 million, and we have hundreds of years of history in a free-market system. [Ted C. Fishman, “Waking to China,” World Almanac 2006, 10.] [Page 19]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Home, but not alone

Sick, but cared for, but not street children …

“…always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people” (1 Thessalonians 5:15, nasb).

Recently my wife talked me into staying home to work from the house. It seems that a cold has hit me with a vengeance. Perhaps the cold is a result of my excessive travel and work schedules these last several weeks. I have had difficulty sleeping because of jet lag, but when I lay down after lunch, I immediately drifted off.

As I lay on the bed, there was fresh air blowing in from the window, the smell of homemade bread, the sheets were warm and clean. Margaret made sure I was eating well and drinking fluids, and to top it off, she brought me chicken noodle soup and bread that you could smell for a block! To say the least, I was well taken care of.

As I closed my eyes, I couldn’t help but see the street children I have come to love. What do they do when they are ill? Where do they sleep? Who cares for them? Believe me, there is no fresh water to drink, no smell of homemade bread, and no chicken noodle soup. There may be scraps from a garbage dump, but they have no energy to forage for it. There is no place for them to sleep in safety, no soft bed, no toilet or fresh air—only the polluted filthy smell of an unfriendly alley.

There are 160 million street children throughout the world. In the major cities in which we work – Lusaka, Lilongwe, Kampala, São Paulo, Bogotá, Mexico City, Phom Penh, Manila–street children simply exist by animal instinct.

Would you pray for ACTION and other ministries which are reaching out to street and underprivileged children with the glorious Gospel of Christ and compassionate care. We are praying for 100 additional missionaries from age 21 to 70 to work on the street with children. Perhaps you sense God’s calling to serve with our team among 160 million street children of the world. If so, just write or call any of us in ACTION. It will mean more to us than homemade soup!

by Doug Nichols

Friday, October 30, 2009

Know Christ Through His Word

There is only one way to gain clear, true, fresh, lofty views of Christ, and that is through the Bible. The Bible is the prism by which the light of Jesus Christ is broken into its many and beautiful colors. The Bible is the portrait of Jesus Christ. We need to gaze upon Him with such intensity of desire that (by the gracious work of the Holy Spirit) He comes alive to us, meets with us, and fills us with Himself. John R.W. Stott - Understanding the Bible (1999), in 444 Surprising Quotes about the Bible (Bethany House, 2005)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

2002 World Series: San Francisco Giants vs. Anaheim Angels

On Thursday, October 24, 2002, World Series Game 5, the San Francisco Giants played the Anaheim Angels and won 
16-4. 

In the seventh inning, as the Giants’ J.T. Snow was crossing home plate, the Giants’ manager’s 3 year old son, Darren Baker, a mascot batboy, ran too soon to pick up a bat near home plate. As Snow crossed home plate, he saw Darren, and immediately grabbed and picked him up out of harm’s way out of the path of oncoming base runner David Bell, who was coming in fast to score. 

It was amazing how J.T. Snow reacted so quickly to an incident that was totally unexpected, and rescued a small boy in danger in the middle of a World Series baseball game! 

What a great example for those of us who are Christians! As we go through our daily active lives, comfortable, in the middle of our activities, may we be prepared to stop and immediately minister to the needy, even though it may disrupt our schedules, our pleasure and even though it might be extremely inconvenient.

There are 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa. There are 100 million street children and 150 million orphans in the world with no parents. There are 15,000 prostituted children in Manila, ages 9 to 12 years. So, even though we may be in the middle of the game of life, let’s stop to consider and get involved in the game of eternity and minister to the needy for the gospel and glory of God!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Manners -- the kindness of Christ in action

As you teach manners, use the sections of the body:

Head
think:
- “What should I do in this situation?”
- “What can I do to help others?”

Eyes
look at people when they talk to you;
- look at people when you talk to them;
- look around to see what needs to be done

Ears
listen when people talk to you;
- learn to listen to the needs of others.

Mouth
speak kindly: say “Hello”, “Thank you,” “Please,” “How may I help you?”“Excuse me.” “I’m sorry, forgive me (if situation deems such).”

– The Scriptures says in Ephesians 4:29 (nasb), Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

– Smile at others.
– When eating, pass food to others!
- Don’t interrupt others.
– Defend others when they are picked on or made fun of.
– By the way, if you are shy and do not speak to others, you come across as selfish, with the emphasis on yourself.

Hands
– Open the door for others.
– Shake hands firmly and warmly.
– Help people with their coats.
– Take older people by the arm to help them across the street or upstairs. (Make sure they want to go up the stairs or across the streets.)

Feet
– Don’t sit when you should stand.
– Men, immediately stand up to give women and others your seat.
– Men, always try to sit on the outside so you can easily get up.

Body
– Show respect for others by the way you dress, especially at special occasions like weddings, funerals, recitals, church, (and when you take your wife out for a special occasion).
–“Modesty” – Fathers and Mothers teach your girls modesty!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Spiritual Parenting" by C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon admonishes all who teach children and youth, "You are teaching children, so mind what you teach them. Take care what you are doing! . . . It is a child's soul you are tampering with . . . it is a child's soul you are preparing for eternity . . . if it is evil to mislead gray-headed age, it must e far more so to turn aside the feet of the young into the road of error, in which they may forever walk."

"There must be doctrine - solid, sound, gospel doctrine . . . getting children to meet in the morning and afternoon is a waste of their [time] and yours if you do not set before them soul-saving, soul-sustaining truth." (from Spiritual Junk Food quote by Cathy Mickels and Oudrey McKeever)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Joining Hands

by Dr. T.S. Rendall

In the pioneering days of the Canadian West, a family was making its way by foot to a farmhouse, located several miles outside a prairie town. It was bitterly cold, and to make better time, the father and mother and their boy cut across a field of what that, because of the early snowfall, had not been harvested. For some reason, the boy became separated from his parents. After a fruitless search the parents decided to return to the village to enlist the help of as many of the local people as possible.

Nearly all the adults of the village turned out and began to search the field. After some time when no trace of the boy could be found, one of the searchers suggested that they all join hands and advance across the field, systematically searching the ground. Quickly the people joined hands and marched across the field. After just a few minutes, the call went out, "I've found him!" The boy had been found, but it was too late; he had succumbed to the bitter cold, and his life had been snuffed out.

As the father gazed upon the body of his son, he was overheard to say, "Oh, that we had joined hands sooner!" And when we stand at the judgment seat of Christ to receive the reward for the things done in the body, will not one of our regrets be that we had not joined hands sooner?

But wait. Here we are in the world where all around us men and women are dying without hope and without God. There is still time to save multitudes of these. Then, in Jesus' name let us join hands, let us march forth as an exceeding great army to "rescue the perishing, care for the dying." (Dr. T.S. Rendall, Fire in the Church)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Children and Grandchildren

In my love for children and grandchildren, I was really challenged and convicted with Psalm 17:13-15, "O Lord...deliver my soul from the wicked...from men of the world, whose portion is in this life, and whose belly you fill with your treasure; they are satisfied with children, and leave their abundance to their babies. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness..." Is it possible to put children first? To think we are successful if we have lots of children are able to leave them an abundance?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Covetousness or Gratefulness

"...coveting is not merely a barrier to good human relationships. At root, it is a serious sin against God. It is the sin of ingratitude. If I am truly grateful to God for the things I have, there can be absolutely no room in my heart for covering anyone else's property, status, or anything. But the minute I cover what belongs to someone else, I show discontent with the gifts I have received from the hand of Providence. Gratitude to God precludes covering anything of my neighbor. A grateful heart is a heart so full of joy toward God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, the fountain of all blessing, that it has no room in its chambers for jealousy, envy, or covetousness." (R.C. Sproul, Tabletalk magazine, November 2001)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Don't Just Stand There, "Cheer!"

“Once, when a great fire broke out at midnight a huge crowd gathered and everyone thought that all the residents had been safely removed. But then, away up on the fifth story a little child was seen crying for help. Up went a ladder, and soon a fireman was seen ascending to the spot. As he neared the second story, the flames burst out from the windows toward the ladder in great fury, and the multitude almost despaired of the rescue of the child. The brave man faltered, and a fellow fireman at the bottom of the ladder cried out to the crowd ‘CHEER HIM!’ Cheer after cheer arose from the crowd. Up the ladder he went, and saved the child because they cheered him! If you cannot go into the heat of the battle yourself, if you cannot go into the harvest field and work day by day, you can cheer those that are working for the Master.” (From a message preached in a 50-day crusade in New York, 1876 by Dwight L. Moody.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Serve as God Wills!

"William [Carey] worked hard at his cobbling, making sure he was giving his best service to his customers. When this was finished for the day he made time to study languages, science, history; to lecture when invited, and weekly to preach. It was a busy life but a contented one. In a letter to his father written at this time he said: 'I am not my own, nor would I choose for myself. Let God employ me where He thinks fit.'" (William Carey by Kellsye Finnie, OM Literature)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mother's Shoes

In 1930 my mother was in the 10th grade in Oklahoma. She lived in town about seven miles from the farm where her parents (my grandparents) lived, and worked for her room and board with Roy and Myrtle Cowerds in Canute. In those days children tried to wear good shoes to school. One day mom broke her shoe heel. The next day she wrote to her mother. A rural mail carrier delivered the letter and waited for my grandmother to open the letter and read it. Grandmother then wrote to Mom and sent all the money she had — $2.25 — to help Mom buy some new shoes. The mail carrier then brought the letter (and money) back to Canute and gave it to Mom that afternoon. Later that day Mr. Cowerds drove Mom to Elk City (eight miles away) to a department store, so Mom could buy a $2 pair of shoes and had 25¢ left over to repair the old shoe.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Character in Leadership

“At the beginning of any study of spiritual leadership, it is essential that the divinely-enunciated master principle be clearly understood and firmly embraced. True greatness, true leadership, is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service but in giving oneself in selfless service to them. And that is never done without cost. It involves drinking a bitter cup and experiencing a painful baptism of suffering. The true spiritual leader is concerned infinitely more with the service he can render God and his fellowmen than with the benefits and pleasures he can extract from life. He aims to put more into life than he takes out of it. ‘One of the outstanding ironies of history is the utter disregard of ranks and titles in the final judgments men pass on each other,’ said Samuel Brengle. ‘The final estimate of men shows that history cares not an iota for the rank or title a man has borne, or the office he has held, but only the quality of his deeds and the character of his mind and heart.’” (J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Happened to Global Warming?

By Paul Hudson
Climate correspondent, BBC News

This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

So what on Earth is going on?

Climate change sceptics, who passionately and consistently argue that man's influence on our climate is overstated, say they saw it coming.

They argue that there are natural cycles, over which we have no control, that dictate how warm the planet is. But what is the evidence for this?

During the last few decades of the 20th Century, our planet did warm quickly.

Sceptics argue that the warming we observed was down to the energy from the Sun increasing. After all 98% of the Earth's warmth comes from the Sun.

But research conducted two years ago, and published by the Royal Society, seemed to rule out solar influences.

The scientists' main approach was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature.

And the results were clear. "Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But one solar scientist Piers Corbyn from Weatheraction, a company specialising in long range weather forecasting, disagrees.

He claims that solar charged particles impact us far more than is currently accepted, so much so he says that they are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures.

He is so excited by what he has discovered that he plans to tell the international scientific community at a conference in London at the end of the month. If proved correct, this could revolutionise the whole subject.

Ocean cycles

What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth's great heat stores.

“ In the last few years [the Pacific Ocean] has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down ”

According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.

The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.

But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.

These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.

So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.

Professor Easterbrook says: "The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling."

So what does it all mean? Climate change sceptics argue that this is evidence that they have been right all along.

They say there are so many other natural causes for warming and cooling, that even if man is warming the planet, it is a small part compared with nature.

But those scientists who are equally passionate about man's influence on global warming argue that their science is solid.

The UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, responsible for future climate predictions, says it incorporates solar variation and ocean cycles into its climate models, and that they are nothing new.

In fact, the centre says they are just two of the whole host of known factors that influence global temperatures - all of which are accounted for by its models.
In addition, say Met Office scientists, temperatures have never increased in a straight line, and there will always be periods of slower warming, or even temporary cooling.

What is crucial, they say, is the long-term trend in global temperatures. And that, according to the Met office data, is clearly up.

To confuse the issue even further, last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.

Professor Latif is based at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany and is one of the world's top climate modellers.

But he makes it clear that he has not become a sceptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself.

So what can we expect in the next few years?

Both sides have very different forecasts. The Met Office says that warming is set to resume quickly and strongly.

It predicts that from 2010 to 2015 at least half the years will be hotter than the current hottest year on record (1998).

Sceptics disagree. They insist it is unlikely that temperatures will reach the dizzy heights of 1998 until 2030 at the earliest. It is possible, they say, that because of ocean and solar cycles a period of global cooling is more likely.

One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say it is hotting up.

Update - 1300, Tuesday 13 October 2009: Paul Hudson has written a blog entry about his article here:

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/8299079.stm
Published: 2009/10/09 15:22:46 GMT © BBC MMIX

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

God Makes Spiritual Leaders

“Spiritual leaders are not made by election or appointment, by men or any combination of men, nor by conferences or synods. Only God can make them. Simply holding a position of importance does not constitute one a leader, nor do taking courses in leadership or resolving to become a leader. The only method is that of qualifying to be a leader. Religious position can be conferred by bishops and boards, but not spiritual authority, which is the prime essential of Christian leadership. This comes—often unsought—to those who in earlier life have proved themselves worthy of it by spirituality, discipline, ability, and diligence.” (J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Leadership -- Authoritative, Spiritual, and Sacrificial

“The overriding need of the church, if it is to discharge its obligation to the rising generation, is for a leadership that is authoritative, spiritual, and sacrificial. Authoritative, because people love to be led by one who knows where he is going and who inspires confidence. They follow almost without question the man who shows himself wise and strong, who adheres to what he believes. Spiritual because a leadership that is unspiritual, that can be fully explained in terms of the natural, although ever so attractive and competent, will result only in sterility and moral spiritual bankruptcy. Sacrificial because modeled on the life of the One who gave Himself a sacrifice for the whole world, who left us an example that we should follow His steps.”

(J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Prayer and John Owen

John Owen, the great Puritan theologian, said we should pray for several things, “...to pray for the fulfillment of prophecy; to pray concerning our own sinfulness and the need to grow in grace; to fulfill the commitments of our faith; to pray the Lord’s prayer--the glory of God. The more we read Scripture, the more we know our own sinfulness. Pray for forgiveness. As we pray the Scriptures, the more the gift and grace of prayer will be developed.”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Going Blind in the Word

Dr. Keiper of Denver Seminary years ago had very poor eyesight. He was a great student, theologian and teacher of the Word. He was warned by doctors that his eyesight was becoming increasingly poor because of his extensive study, and they advised him to stop. Dr. Keiper prayed about this, and it seemed as if the Lord said to him, “Would you rather have perfect eyesight or the privilege of glorifying Me?”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Brotherly Kindness

“Brotherly kindness” is from the Greek Word philadelphia which means “an affectionate involvement of our lives with others”, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Commitment to Jesus Christ means commitment to His people!

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (nasb), Paul gives instruction to the church in its relations with one another, “And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly [this is a judgment call], encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.”

Years ago the ship USS PUEBLO was captured by North Korea. Thirteen of the crew were put in one room and given assigned chairs. Everyday a Korean soldier would suddenly come in and beat the sailor in the first chair. This went on for three days. This sailor was slowly being beaten to death. Finally the other prisoners began to take his place each day. Each sailor knew what would happen when he sat in the first chair. They knew what was coming. But out of concern for his fellow sailor, they each took his chair!

When was the last time “in brotherly kindness” you sat in the chair of someone who was suffering? The chair of pain; of loneliness; of heartache; of grief; of poverty; or of helplessness?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Christian Love

The Greek word for Christian love is “agape” which means “sacrificial action for another person’s good”.

Many years ago when the Roman Empire was spreading throughout the world, King Tigranes of Armenia was taken captive. While standing before the conquering Roman general waiting for the death sentence to be passed, Tigranes fell on his knees before the General and pleaded for his family saying, “Do with me what you like, but I beg you to spare my family.” The conquering General was so impressed with the love of the king for his wife that he released the king and his family.

As they left the presence of the General, King Tigranes asked his wife what she thought about the General. She replied, “I never saw him.”

“What do you mean ‘you never saw him?’”, Tigranes asked. “You were standing within a few feet of him. You could not help but see him. What were you looking at?”

With tears now sparkling in her eyes, the queen gently replied to her beloved husband, “I saw no one but you. My eyes only saw the one who was willing to die for me.”

“But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, nasb).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Godliness

Godliness is reverence towards God and a life lived in obedience to Him.

1. Godliness requires recognition of God. “Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3, nasb).

2. Godliness requires an awareness of God and His control.

“The Lord God says, ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8)

Jesus said, “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20, nasb).

3. Godliness demands obedience to God. The example of Jesus who said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34,nasb).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Perseverance of a Christian

“…and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness…” (2 Peter 1:6, nasb).

True faith endures! Within the context of 2 Peter 1, perseverance (patience) comes from faith in the promises of God, knowledge of Christ, and experience of His divine power!

Why do we have so many quitters these days when the going has gotten difficult? Possibly you started well, but you gave up. Well, get back in the race. Get back in the battle. Move forward in faith and persevere to the end. The race isn’t over yet!

A father saved money to send his son to an elite school. The son decided to quit school; he could not take it. It was too hard and too boring. His father tried to convince him to stick with it. “Son”, the father said, “you can’t quit. All the great people you remember in history didn’t quit. Abe Lincoln, he didn’t quit. Thomas Edison didn’t quit. Nehru of India and Gandhi didn’t quit. Douglas MacArthur, he didn’t quit. Jose Rizal didn’t quit. And remember Joe Gonzales?” The teenage son interrupted, “Who is Joe Gonzales?” “See,” the father replied, “You don’t remember him, because he quit!”

Perseverance is the ability to endure when circumstances are difficult. Self-control has to do with the pleasures of life, while perseverance has to do with the pressures and problems of life. By faith, we must let our trials work for us because we know that God is at work in our trials.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Controlling Self

There are three (3) guidelines to controlling self:

1. Choose your environment. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14, nasb).

2. Trust God for help! “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, nasb).

We need to trust God to give us the strength to control and put to death the passions of lust, tobacco, alcohol, position, pride, and possessions. We need to trust God in dealing with anxiety, fear, and hatred. Avoid saying, “Well that’s the way I am!”

God, the great “I AM” sent His son Jesus to die to save you from your “I am”!

3. Counteract the bad with the good.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, nasb).

If you have a problem with slander and gossip, speak a word of encouragement:

a. If a woman or a man tempts you, give them a gospel booklet and then run.
b. If your enemy offends you, bless them.
c. If your husband, wife or friend treats you badly, love and serve them anyway.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

As Christians, what are we to know in order to handle life successfully?

Four things to handle life:

1. We must know the Lord.

“…grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, nasb). We grow in grace and knowledge of Christ as we read, study, learn, and obey the Word of God.

John Sung (the great Chinese evangelist in the 1930’s and 40’s) read eleven chapters of the Bible daily. By reading only 15 minutes daily, you can read the Bible every year.

2. We must know ourselves.

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them. . .” (1 Timothy 4:16,nasb).

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think: but to think with sound judgment . . .” (Romans 12:3, nasb)

3. We must know right from wrong.

“We are to grow in the Lord to maturity, mature people who “have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14, nasb).

In regards to certain activities, we so often say “What’s wrong with it?” Perhaps we should instead ask “What’s right (good) about it?”

4. We must obey to learn.

Jesus says, “If anyone is willing to do His (God’s) will, he will know of the teaching. ..” (John 7:17, nasb); “So let us know (obey), let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3, nasb).

So if you want to know God, obey Him!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pastors' Conference on HIV/AIDS

In August 2009, ACTION Zambia missionary Steve Allen went to a pastors' conference out in the Zambian bush. It was solely focused on HIV/AIDS training. The CROSS curriculum was taught to 23 pastors. CROSS curriculum is a 16-week course touching on the following: domestic violence, medical facts of getting the disease, and how Christians can fight. He also taught a lesson on counseling!

This curriculum is critical for these pastors. In the discussion times, one pastor opened up about his struggle to move away from the cultural views of women and adapt a more Biblical outlook. His views changed over the weekend as we looked at passages like Ephesians 5:21-33 which speaks of submitting one to another out of love (not just the wife submitting to the husband and in essence being his slave). It is vital that these pastors get this training as they are the key to reaching the Christian church of Zambia with HIV/AIDS training that is Biblical and changes people's hearts and actions.

--ACTION Zambia PLD Missionary, Steve Allen

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review: If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil

Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.
In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world-now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

As he did in his best-selling book, "Heaven," Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

http://www.infibeam.com/BOOKS/INFO/RANDY-ALCORN/IF-GOD-GOOD-FAITH-MIDST-SUFFERING-EVIL/9781601421326.HTML

Monday, September 14, 2009

Somebody has to do it

Years ago, a writer named Anne O’Hare interviewed three world leaders: Hitler, Mussolini, and Roosevelt. She asked all three leaders the question, “How did you get where you are in the position of leadership you hold?” Mussolini puffed out his chest as he often did, and replied, “I came!” Hitler got a far-away look in his eye and said, “I was sent.” When she asked Roosevelt how he got to be president, he simply laughed and said, “Well, somebody had to do it!”

Let’s you and I be the “somebodies” (or even nobodies) who have to do it! Let’s be the people (God’s people) who see what good needs to be done and then do it!

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify God in heaven!”
(Matthew 5:16, nasb).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Leadership Paradoxes

In an editorial entitled “Leadership Paradoxes”, William McCumber states six things about people:

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

3. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

4. People favor underdogs, but only follow top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

5. People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them. Help them anyway.

6. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

These conclusions about people form “. . .an interesting commentary upon the Lord’s words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ The value of an action lies, not in the response it will receive, but in the quality of the action itself. Doing what is right, because it is right and honors God, is abundantly worthwhile, whether it is understood, appreciated, or reciprocated.” (Herald of Holiness, 15 September 1982, p. 17)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The rest of mankind did not repent

by J.N. Manokaran

Swine flu created scare in the minds of people around the world. Earlier it was bird flu that scared the global population. Natural disasters of minor or major proportions keep happening around the world. What is the response of people to such plagues?

“The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelations 9:20, 21)

False Gods
With God’s gift of creativity, human beings are able to design and define their own gods. The technological advancement provides tools for creating more such gods. Every day new gods are created to meet a particular need or superstition invented to ward of evil or tool developed to provide self confidence. The super market for spirituality abounds with products and commodities for every need, for every person in accordance to the budget a person could afford.

With aspiration for more power to control their own lives, people start worshipping even demons. It is not worshipping, it is actually trying to appease the demons. Instead of repenting, human being invent some kind of spiritual ritual to ward off the evil.

Violence – murders
Among young people violence has become a life style. A majority of Americans feel that it is their right to own a gun. It is no wonder around five thousand youngsters loose their life in gang violence in US. Ragging, teen murders, suicides, domestic violence, dowry deaths and road rage are indication of violence in the modern culture. People are more driven by negative emotions like hatred rather than positive emotions like love. The tolerance level of people has gone down and so is the virtue of self-control.

Occult practices
Occult practices are glorified, considered as science in several cultures. Human beings are always in pursuit of power and knowledge. Adam and Eve chose both, which resulted in rebellion and disobedience against the Creator. Today humanity is seeking power and knowledge, from any and every source. The source could be legitimate or illegitimate, it doesn’t matter. Occult is becoming widely acceptable, sometimes respectable and becoming part of modern civilization.

Sexual immorality
Sexual immorality needs no description. For postmodern generation, that is over exposed to sex education and drowsed in moral stupor; sex is merely a physical activity between two persons with consent and not commitment. It is like playing a game of tennis. So, premarital sex and extra-marital sex has become normal in the society. Worse still is homosexuals and lesbians having special rights and privileges.

Robbing and looting
Humanity is losing its moral value base that robbing and looting is way of life. Corruption in corporate world, pursuit of profit without ethics, politics without principle and just pursuit of power; media playing the role of false prophet has looted people economically, politically and socially. Human rights violations is a daily news from many corners of the world. Human dignity is robbed by forced marriages, rapes, bonded slavery, war, riots and terrorism. Children are robbed of their innocence.

Call for repentance
God is speaking to humanity, time and again. Plagues or swine flu or tsunami are God’s trumpet call for humanity to repent, forsake sin and follow righteous. Instead humanity seems to devolve deeper into moral and spiritual decay rather than pursuing righteousness. But, there are individuals who are wise, who reflect and understand to ‘kiss the feet of the Son’ and take refuge in Him. (Psalm 2:12) The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

by J.N. Manokaran

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: "Reproducible Pastoral Training"

All of us (I hope) would like to “go therefore and make disciples”, but sometimes we do not know how.

Reproducible Pastoral Training is a timely and easy to read book written by missionary Patrick O’Connor.

Do not let the title fool you. This book is user-friendly, hands-on, and practical in making disciples who then reproduce themselves.

While the title suggests a focus on starting new churches and preparing leaders for the harvest, it also offers a practical look at how to do this. The book is an excellent biblical resource that is not a “new fad” or hard-to-replicate program. It is written from a perspective straight from the field and has been tried and tested. It is a required “must read” for every missionary and disciple who hopes to leave a mark - a mark which is hard to erase.

When I first saw this book and heard about the movement in western Honduras, I bought ten copies. I recently bought ten more! If I could get the book for $1, I would buy 1000!

O’Connor has spent nearly two decades as a missionary in Honduras. He cut his teeth in western Honduras, where he pioneered a brand new movement of churches in rural off-the-map locations. He calls them “chains of churches” and the Lord gave birth to many of them. Indeed, before the church planting movement genre became popular, these indigenous and nationalized cluster of churches, daughter churches and granddaughter churches were taking root.

O’Connor now ministers with Action International Ministries (ACTION), on loan from Missions Door, and we are thrilled to see him serve as Facilitator for the Church Planting Movement (CPM) worldwide. He was raised in India, and now returns often to train nationals in India for reproducible pastoral training.

O’Connor did not learn these concepts in a vacuum. For two decades, O’Connor learned and applied these concepts through his mentor George Patterson. Reproducible Pastoral Training presents Patterson’s model of outreach. It presents 68 biblical principles for action-oriented multiplication. The following are few of the 68 guidelines:

-Watch out! Here come wolves!
-Dramatize biblical events.
-Apply God’s oil to rusty organization.
-Spy out the land.
-Bond with the people and their culture.
-Permit the setting to shape your methods.
-Find pointers to Christ in pagan lore.
-Lead humbly and firmly.

Whether you are a pastor, academic, lay practitioner, housewife or a missionary on the field, I would encourage you to buy and read this book.

Gene Daniels, Author of In Search of the Indigenous Church, said this of the book “O'Connor has accomplished the missiological version of crossing Niagara falls on a tight-rope while blindfolded; he has writ¬ten an organized presentation of the principles for building up indi¬genous churches without turning it into another fad system. Bravo!”

Victor Choudhrie of India put it this way: “Reproductive Pastoral Training is an impressive, up-to-date manual on Church Planting that should be studied by all who are involved in church planting movements. The principles laid are universal and scriptural.”

Reproducible Pastoral Training can be ordered by phone or online:

Order by phone: William Carey Library (1-800-MISSION; 1-800-647-7466)
Order Online: http://missionbooks.org/williamcareylibrary/product.php?productid=533&cat=70&page=1

Friday, September 4, 2009

We begin our Christian life by faith (not works, but faith)

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:1-4, nasb).

This faith is in a “Person” who is Jesus, God our Savior (vs. 1-2). Not in a pop star or political star. Not in a position or political entity.

This faith involves God’s Power (vs. 3). Peter says, “His divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness.”

This faith involves God’s Promises (vs. 4). Peter calls these promises God’s “. . . precious and magnificent promises.”

There are 7500 promises in the Bible. “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20, nasb); “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33, nasb)