Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Speak the Truth in Love

by Randy Alcorn

The most quoted verse these days is not "For God so loved the world," but "Judge not." Unfortunately, we often fail to understand what this means.

In our own church, a Bible believing fellowship, years ago I spoke to a Sunday school class in which one of the couples stood up and shared that their unborn child had a serious disease and would not live long after birth. They said that the doctor had given them their options and they were meeting with him the next day and needed to make their decision about what they were going to do. The red flag was waving—almost certainly, one of the options (often the only one if it's a genetic defect, which it was) was abortion. The "options" are, give birth to a child who will almost certainly die, or take the life of the child before she is born.

After the class I watched as people briefly greeted this couple, nodded to them, likely said they'd be praying and went out the door. People seemed warm and friendly and caring. But no one talked more than a minute, which made it obvious they were not dealing with the question: what kind of options are we talking about?

I went to the couple, and we stayed afterward talking for nearly an hour. It turns out they were leaning toward abortion. In the absence of counsel to the contrary that would likely have been their direction. I explained the difference between God being allowed to take their child's life, and them choosing to take the child's life. They ended up having the child, who lived for a month in a family full of love, held by mom and dad and the other children. Proudly they showed us and their class the pictures of this precious child.

I am haunted by the fact that in our pro-life church, not one person in a Sunday School class of 100 took this couple aside. Surely someone realized the "options" probably included abortion. Likely, they didn't want to be judgmental or to make them feel guilty if they'd chosen abortion. But we owe it to people to tell them the truth, saturated with grace and kindness and empathy.

We all know that one of the ways we fail each other in the body of Christ is by our judgmental and self-righteous attitudes. What we don't seem to realize is how often we fail each other by looking the other way and not going to each other to give warning and wisdom and edification. (For example, a pastor who ends up leaving his wife and kids for his secretary, and dozens of church people, including leaders, saying, "I knew they were involved, or headed that way; I could just see it.") Well, it wasn't grace and non-judgmentalism that kept them from speaking up—it was indifference or cowardice or the lie that we are not our brother's keeper, that we don't have a responsibility to each other and to God.

Sometimes we assume people know that they are wrong. We think we're being nonjudgmental and gracious to them by not sitting down with them and kindly sharing what God says about sex and marriage. In fact, we are being neglectful or cowardly. We fall for the lie that sin can be in someone's true best interests. It can't be. It never is. Matthew 7 doesn't tell us not to help remove the splinters from our brother's eye. It tells us to remove the log from our own eye, so we can see more clearly to remove the splinter from our brother's eye.

We owe it to each other to do what Scripture commands: "Speak the truth in love." (Ephesians 4:15)

Speak the Truth in Love
by Randy Acorn, blog
www.randyalcorn.blogspot.com
www.epm.org

Friday, May 8, 2009

There is a Cross

Third, without the holiness of God the cross would be emptied of all meaning. Christ was not a social reformer, or a do-gooder for whom things got out of hand. These are the old liberal ideas, but they are not biblical thoughts. The cross was not an accident. It was planned in eternity, and it was for this, Jesus said, that he had come. He had come to die. And in his moment of death the holiness of God and our sin collided. This is what called forth his cry of dereliction. It is an impertinence, at the very least, to say, as Steve Chalke and Alan Mann do in The Lost Message of Jesus, that this view makes God guilty of “cosmic child abuse,” that the cross needs to be purified of its violent images. This may appeal to a postmodern constituency, and to its Arminian counterpart, but it is remote from the way the Bible thinks about Christ’s death and distant from the way the church, own through the ages, has thought about it. The truth is that Christ’s death is simply incomprehensible if we do not start with the demands of God’s holiness, which cannot tolerate sin’s violations.

Without the holiness of God, then, there is no cross. Without the cross there is no gospel. Without the gospel there is no Christianity. Without Christianity there is no church. And without echoes of the holiness of God in those who are Christ’s, there is no recognizable church. What is it about this chain of connections that the evangelical church today is not understanding that is leading it to soft-pedal, overlook, or ignore the holiness of God?

Let me now say this positively. What we see at the cross is the white-hot revelation of the character of God, of his love providing the price that his holiness requires. The cross was his means of redeeming lost sinners and reconciling them to himself, but it was also a profound disclosure of his mercy. It is, in Paul’s words, an “inexpressible gift” that leads us to wonder and worship, to praise and adore the God who has given himself to us in this way. This is what has led people to give themselves away, too, to give of themselves in service to others, to go to the mission field. IT is what has impelled Christian believers to give of their substance, and to reach out in acts of mercy to those who need it, and in acts of courage against the injustices in society. [Page 129]

Source: The Courage to be Protestant (Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Modern World) by David Wells, William B. Erdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2008.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Boston King -- The Relutant African-American Missionary

With an opportunity from his slave master to apprentice as a carpenter, the young slave, Boston King, did not experience an atmosphere in which to learn. The only black apprentice among his peers, he shouldered the blame for lost tools and mistakes around the shop. And when tools, or even nails, were thought to be lost or stolen, young Boston was beaten without mercy by the shop owners to the point he could not work for weeks.

When the news of such beatings reached the ears of Boston’s slave master, he intervened, not because he cared about Boston, but because Boston was his property, and the slave master could not afford for him to be permanently damaged by the shop owner. This intervention was effective, and Boston was able to properly gain knowledge of his trade. However, his slave master would never benefit from his service as a carpenter because Boston fled from his captivity not long after returning to his master.

Boston King ran into the hands of the English Army, who received him gladly and treated him humanely in the face of the American Revolution. He, along with his comrades, was infected with smallpox. He had to be removed a mile from the camp and could no longer march with the British Army.

Through miraculous provision and a Godly relief worker, Boston eventually recovered from his affliction. Not long after this, his wife became the first convert of the great orator, Moses Wilkinson. Her conversion was so dramatic that Boston’s heart became troubled. One could only imagine what went through his mind. Perhaps it was a dream that he had as a child:

When [I was] 12 years old, it pleased God to alarm me by a remarkable dream. At midday, when the cattle went under the shade of the trees, I dreamt that the world was on fire, and that I saw the supreme Judge defend on His great white Throne. I saw millions of millions of souls; some of whom ascended up to heaven; while others were rejected, and fell into the greatest confusion and despair. This dream made such an impression upon my mind, that I refrained from swearing and bad company, and from that time acknowledged that there was a God; but how to serve God I knew not.

His lack of knowledge did not last forever. Soon after his wife’s conversion, God dealt powerfully with Boston King, but King began to resist God’s dealing and fell into doubt and depression. Then one day, God began to speak to him.

I continued in prayer about half and hour, when the Lord…spoke to my heart, “Peace be unto thee.” All my doubts and fears vanished away: I saw, but faith, heaven opened to my view; and Christ and His holy angels rejoicing over me. I was now enabled to believe in the name of Jesus, and my Soul was dissolved into love. Everything appeared to me in a different light to what they did before; and loved every living creature upon the face of the earth. I could truly say, I was now becoming a new creature. All tormenting and slavish fear, and all the guilt and weight of sin were done away. I was so exceedingly blessed, that I could no longer conceal my happiness, but went to my brethren and told them what the Lord had done for my soul.

Soon after this miraculous experience, Boston began to experience a burden for the lost. He gave his life to serving God and soon became one of the most influential missionaries to Africa. He was one of the first black Americans to leave America and travel to Africa to preach the gospel.

Boston King’s life was one of supernatural communication with God. Although, like all of us, he faced doubts and fears, his conversations with God included not only talking, but also listening. Because he listened, his impact crossed the natural borders of oceans and touched the lives of lost human beings.

God Has Soul
Published by Honor Books 2004
Pages 48-50

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What Pictures Do You Have on your Wall and Who do You Pray for?

Margaret and I were able to visit her Uncle Harvey Jespersen, living in a very small room in a retirement home in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada. After only a 2 ½-hour visit, Margaret and I left greatly encouraged in our walk with God and with a determination to share our resources and the years remaining in our lives to the glory of God!

Uncle Harvey is 89 and has served the Lord faithfully in ministry to orphans, the needy, and foster children for over 60 years, with possibly millions of dollars passing through his hands for the work of the Lord. Yet here he is now, in a small room with no earthly treasures, rejoicing in the Lord and stating, “What need I more? The Bible says to be content with food and raiment, and I am content!” Uncle Harvey’s room is filled with pictures, some of family, but mostly of missionaries from around the world for whom he prays daily.

Each day he rises at 5:30 a.m. and prays for missionaries who serve in different parts of the world. On Monday he prays for Asia, on Tuesday, Africa, on Wednesday, North America, on Thursday, South America, on Friday, Europe, and on Saturday, the islands of the world including the Philippines. Each Sunday he prays for family members, friends, and each pastor of the local evangelical churches in the town where he lives. He regularly writes each pastor ensuring them of his prayer. What a man of God!

As Margaret and I left after our short visit she said, “When I get to be 89, I would like to be like Uncle Henry.” I reiterated, “So would I.” To be happy in the Lord and content with only food and raiment, daily giving ourselves to the Lord in prayer and praise for the Gospel and His compassionate care to go to the ends of the earth should be the goal of each of us.

Uncle Harvey is truly happy, thankful, and holy. Might we all follow in his steps to the glory of God!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ex-slave Becomes a Missionary

Betsy Stockton—More Than A Servant

When she was only in her early twenties, Betsy Stockton found herself on her way to the Sandwich Islands along with twelve other missionaries en route to the southern tip of South America. The American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions had sent Betsy and her team, which consisted of herself and twelve men. Aside from being the only woman on the team, Betsy had another qualification that made her stand out as a significant member of this missionary trip. Betsy was a former slave. The law demanding the gradual emancipation of slaves in New Jersey did not go into effect until 1825. Yet God clearly answered Betsy’s heart’s desire when, soon after her conversion, her owner, Ashbel Green, set her free in 1816.

God Has Soul

Published by Honor Books 2004
Page 16

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Know We Are Right!

by Doug Nichols

Margaret and I were in a department store to buy some extra-warm undershirts for Dad Jespersen a couple of years ago when he was 92.

A sale was going on so the store was crowded. As we stood in line to pay, we chatted with an elderly couple, their daughter and granddaughter. Our conversation soon turned to the topic of large families and they proudly informed us that they were Mormons.

The man jokingly said, “I would like to have more wives, but I have only one.”
His wife laughed, but suddenly her demeanor changed as she said, “I don’t care what anyone says about Mormons, I know we are right!”

Even though I am often intimidated by strangers, fearful of arguments and not gifted in evangelism, I replied, “You say you think you are right, but only One is perfectly right, and that is God. He sent His Son, Jesus, in the flesh to this earth, and Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’ ” (John 14:6, nasb).

At that moment, the store clerk said to me, “Next.”

I hoped Jesus’ words lingered in the ears of those around us. Jesus said clearly that He is the only way to heaven.

Friday, May 1, 2009

CGM_ACTION Reunion

Last night several former CGMers, called Christ for Greater Manila until the mid-90s now Christ Greatly Magnified with whom we served from '85-91 in their Lighthouse ministry to prostitutes and street children, and a few ACTION missionaries got together for a very enjoyable reunion sponsored by Doug and Margi Nichols. People who served with CGM in the 70s, 80s and 90s were there along with the Nichols, Ellises, Miss Rausch a long-time good friend of ACTION and CGM who serves with another mission and us. We had a wonderful time enjoying a delicious meal, getting caught up with one another, singing and Mr. Nichols gave a strong challenge from 1 Corinthians 16:9.

It's a joy to know that people are still "on fire" for God and serving Him with zeal after many years of ministry . It is obvious also that Doug and Margi's ministry in the Philippines continues to bear much God-honoring fruit after many years of faithful service in the Philippines and to Filipinos scattered through-out the world. God is glorified and Christ is exalted through our fellowship in the gospel as we serve Him together moving forward by faith.

Through-out the evening I thought of several CGMers who've gone on to be with the Lord who had a great impact in our lives and in shaping CGM and ACTION in our early years such as Aries, Dora and Flor. They are missed but it'll be a *grander* reunion in Glory when we're all there magnifying God's grace in our lives and ministries.

by Mary Ann Anderson