Monday, December 27, 2010

The Heart of God

“Yet you are a man and not like God, although you make your heart like the heart of God” (Ezekiel 28:2b nasb).

“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Because you have made your heart like the heart of God…” (Ezekiel 28:6 nasb).

“But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command” (1 Samuel 13:14 nlt).

“No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (John 1:18 nlt).

“But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do anything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22 nlt).

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

It is possible to be an encouragement to the people that you meet. In the first century church, one man so embod¬ied the characteristics of intentional encouragement that he was given a new name - Barnabas, which means 'son of encouragement.’ Imagine being known as a person who so personifies an encouraging spirit that your friends would give you a new name. That indicates the character of Barnabas. He was a man who truly lived out his intimate relationship with Jesus the Savior who is Himself the perfect encourager. How did Barnabas become such an encourager? No one forced him to live and act that way. There are two obvious reasons:

1.Barnabas deliberately nurtured a growing intimate faith relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

2.He worshipped and served God out of a community of Jesus' disciples who continuously encouraged one another as they were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God's great favor was upon them all. There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need. (Acts 4:32-33, NLT)

Then the Bible says that Barnabas was one of those who chose to sell some land and give all the money received from that sale to help others in need (Acts 4:36-37). Some may be wary of this as mandated socialism, but that is simply not true. Here is a situation where individuals responded to God's redemptive call on their lives and lived in harmony with and sacrificial service to others. Motivated by the in-dwelling Holy Spirit of God, they contributed to the kind of encouraging culture that transforms lives, marriages, churches, and work communities. Beware of any so-called 'church' or religious organization that forces or pressures you to do good works for the sole purpose of getting more converts. In the real churches of God, God and the Bible are the only and final authority and not the organization itself.

ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS
OF AN ENCOURAGING BARNABAS

It is the purpose of God that each of us should grow into Christ-likeness so that we possess and demonstrate the character traits that describe the person of Barnabas in the first century church.

Generous. Barnabas did more than give generously to others. He was a generous man. His very heart expressed generosity. He was not only willing to give to help those in need - he was will to give beyond what others expected. He was willing to pay a price, to give up something he valued, for the sake of others. He could have kept some of the money from his land sale, but he chose to give it all. That does not mean that you have to give away everything you have. God wants us to recognize that all good things come from Him, and so we should want to honor Him in the way we use them - to meet our needs and to bless others.

Good.
Barnabas was called "a good man" (Acts 11:24, NLT). The word for good (agathos) refers to the character of someone. Barnabas was good because he possessed the inner character of God. He demonstrated the character and attitude of God - seeing life and people from the perspective of God because he trusted the Lord to guide his life, form his heart, and inform his thoughts. He was a good man because the good God occupied his heart.

Spiritually Mature.
He was mature in a spiritual sense because he was "full of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 11:24, NLT). He invited the Holy Spirit to direct his life and develop the qualities of Christ in him. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to enter and reside in each genuine follower of Jesus so as to make him or her like Christ in their character. This includes developing the fruit of the Spirit, which are the personal qualities like the Lord Jesus:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

This is why Barnabas always sought to encourage other Christians "to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts" (Acts 11:23). If you will passionately pursue these qualities of Jesus for your life, you will be well on your way to living as a Barnabas encourager, positively impacting others with last¬ing spiritual results. Isn't this what life is really all about?

Faith-full.
Barnabas was a man full of faith. In his daily living, he really did place his total trust in the hands of God. He had great confidence that God would transform the lives of all who put their trust in Christ. He was a very discerning person who sought to understand others and rejoiced when he saw the evidence of God at work in them. It took much to discourage Barnabas, whose unswerving faith in new followers of Jesus spurred them on towards spiritual maturity.

When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God [in the], he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. (Acts 11:23)

Person of Integrity.
The Bible contrasts Barnabas, who lived openly and gave sacrificially, with Ananias and Sapphira, who tried to achieve the wonderful reputation of Barnabas. But they were envious of him and pretended that they were as generous as Barnabas. Their pretense misled the others in their church. They were confronted by the Apostle Peter, who reminded them that lying to the people of God also meant that they were lying to God. Barnabas was so different - he lived with transparency and complete honesty. What he revealed in public, he lived the same in private (Acts 4:36,5:11).

Warm-hearted and empathetic.
Barnabas expressed love, even for those who were unwanted by others. Saul, who was later re-named Paul, had acquired a bad reputation for persecuting Christians and trying to destroy the early church. After Saul was confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, he became a passionate believer and follower of Christ. But after the church leaders wanted nothing to do with Saul, Barnabas took time to understand and affirm him. Against the wishes of perhaps all the others in the group, Barnabas defended Saul and convinced them of the transformation that had taken place in his life. More than anyone else, Barnabas saw the truth about Saul and his potential.

When [Saul] came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:26¬27)

Dare to be a Barnabas - a gracious follower of Jesus who always seeks to understand the hearts of others and is will¬ing to believe in their God-given potential. This does not mean that you should accept sin and wrong attitudes in oth¬ers. It does mean that you care enough to lovingly and firmly confront them for their own good and for the glory of God. Barnabas illustrated this when he confronted even the Apos¬tle Paul over Mark, who had deserted their missionary team (Acts 15:37-39). Paul was really angry over Mark's desertion, but Barnabas saw through Mark's outward action and was convinced of his potential. When you believe strongly in what a person can become, you treat them according to what they can be instead of what they have done in the past.

APPENDIX C
Church Greeters:

A Frontline Ministry

Seek to understand the culture and personality of your church so that you can be truly helpful in welcoming new¬comers and assisting them in feeling at home there. Know your own identity (who you are in Christ) so that your re¬sponses can be clear, confident, and helpful to all who enter each week.

Welcoming others in a church or group context requires answers to three basic questions.

1. WHO AM I?

I am a representative of God and for my church. "We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you" (2 Corinthians 5:20, NLT).

I am a partner in our church family. "Through us God caused you to believe. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow. The ones who do the planting or watering aren't important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. Yet they will be rewarded individu¬ally, according to their own hard work. We work to¬gether as partners who belong to God" (1 Corinthians 3:5-9, NLT). "May God, who gives this patience and en-couragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other-each with the attitude of Christ Jesus to¬ward the other. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 15:5-6, NLT).

I am a friend, "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers" (Hebrews 13:2, NLT). "When God's people are in need, be the one to help them out And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night" (Romans 12:13, NLT).

Character requirements: a humble spirit (Ephesians 4:2; Romans 12:16), a willing attitude (Romans 12:13), and a servant mindset (Mark 10:43-45).

2. WHY AM I DOING THIS?

I believe that God has called me to this ministry.

"Lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called of God" (Ephesians 4: 1, NLT). "He was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts" (Acts 11:23). "Let us encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:25).

I have a passion to share the mind of Christ with oth¬ers. "Be humble, thinking of others as better than your¬self. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too" (Philippians 2:3-4, NL T). See also Philippians 2:5.
I am committed to communicate the mission of our church. 
(each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts [members] grow, so that the whole body [church] is healthy and growing and full of love" (Ephesians 4:16).

3. WHAT Is MY ROLE?

Be spiritually prepared (Bible study, prayer, worship, and witness).

Confess any known sin in my life to God.

I seek to be flexible, loving, and sensitive to the needs of those who enter our church (Romans 12:9-10).

I strive to earn the respect of our church so that in my role as a leader, I can truly help grow our church (Philippians 2:29).

As people enter, I silently pray for visitors and members even as I welcome them.

It's not about me. It's about God. If it's about God, it must be about others (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Source: Brown, Stewart; ‘Majesty in Motion’ p140-145, 199-201; Word Alive Press; Winnipeg, MB, 2009

Monday, December 13, 2010

31 Key Verses

31 Key Verses
(poor, foreigners, orphans, widows, afflicted, oppressed, helpless, fatherless)

1. “For the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.” (Psalm 9:18, nasb)

2. “Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the afflicted.” (Psalm 10:12, nasb)

3. “You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You; You have been the helper of the orphan.” (Psalm 10:14, nasb)

4. “O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.” (Psalm 10:17-18, nasb)

5. “‘Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise,’ says the LORD; ‘I will set him in the safety for which he longs.’” (Psalm 12:5, nasb)

6. “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:6, nasb)

7. “And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD; it shall exult in His salvation. All my bones will say, ‘LORD, who is like You, who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him, and the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?’” (Psalm 35:9-10, nasb)

8. “How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble. The LORD will protect him and keep him alive, and he shall be called blessed upon the earth; and do not give him over to the desire of his enemies. The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed; in his illness, You restore him to health.” (Psalm 41:1-3, nasb)

9. “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5, nasb)

10. “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4, nasb)

11. “The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed.” (Psalm 103:6, nasb)

12. “He has given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted in honor.” (Psalm 112:9, nasb)

13. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4, nasb)

14. “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'” (Matthew 25:31-40, nasb)

15. “…the cry of the afflicted…” (Psalm 9:12b).

16. “For the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever” (Psalm 9:18).

17. “Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the afflicted” (Psalm 10:12).

18. “You have seen it, for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You. You have been the helper of the orphan” (Psalm 10:14).

19. “O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror” (Psalm 10:17-18).
20. “’Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise’ says the Lord; ‘I will set him in the safety for which he long’” (Psalm 12:5).

21. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6).

22. “And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; It shall exult in His salvation. All my bones will say, ‘Lord, who is like You, who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him, and the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?’” (Psalm 35:9-10).

23. “The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, and their bows will be broken” (Psalm 37:14-15).

24. “How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble. The Lord will protect him and keep him alive, and he shall be called blessed upon the earth; and do not give him over to the desire of his enemies. The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed; in his illness, You restore him to health” (Psalm 41:1-3).

25. “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5).

26. “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).

27. “The Lord performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6).

28. “He has given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted in honor” (Psalm 112:9).

29. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Psalm 6:1-4).

30. “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink…’” (Matthew 25:31-42).

31. “But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me’” (Matthew 26:10-11).

Monday, December 6, 2010

How to Give Money to the Homeless

A friend of mine, Pastor Mike Paddy, has worked with the poor for many years, not only in the USA, but in the Philippines as well. He gives the following guidelines in giving money to the homeless.

He says…

“I look them in the eye, I ask them their name. I tell them that I am a Christian and that God the Father mandates me to help people in need. I am going to give you some help but I want you to know that this money is not from me but from God who loves you. As I hand it to him, I pray, ‘Father help this person with this small gift in hope of discovering your love for him, in Jesus name.’ You see when we fulfill the law of God in loving our neighbor in a righteous and godly way, I know I can trust God to do the work in his heart and soul to minister and Lord willing, bring that person to a place of salvation, repentance and a new life in Christ.

When we ‘justify’ our behavior of not helping suggesting that the money will be wasted, we are not trusting the Lord. After all, weren’t we just as bad off in God’s sight as sinners before we knew the Savior? (Romans 3:9-18).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Several (7) Statistics of Information and Possible Action for the Church Worldwide

1. 28 million in slavery worldwide; many are children and victims of human trafficking! 400,000 children are in slavery in Haiti! [“Finding Slavery in My Own Backyard”, by David Batstone. “Missions Frontiers”, September-October 2007 29:5, p.12]

2. 3.2 million untrained or undertrained pastors throughout the world. Pray for missionary mentors and trainers to assist these needy pastors [http://topic.us/].

3. 100 million Christians are living in persecution throughout the world (Persecuted Church) [http://www.persecution.com/].

4. There are 145 million orphans worldwide. If one missionary (or one church) took responsibility for 1000 orphans, there would, therefore, be a need for 145,000 missionaries (or individual churches) [http://viva.org/; http://www.compassion.com/; http:// www.actioncic.org /]!

5. There are 160 million street children, especially in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Thousands of missionaries and Christian workers are needed to take the Gospel and compassionate care to these needy children [http://www.actioninternational.org/; http://www.actioncic.org/].

6. 200 million people worldwide are on the move (referred to as the Diaspora) in search of employment and a better education, because of persecution and natural disasters, and so forth. Many are open to kindness and hospitality which opens the door for the Gospel [http://www.fin-online.org/].

7. There are three (3) billion people worldwide with no nearby Christian or church to share the Gospel with them. They can only be reached by someone going to them (missionary) with the Gospel. If one missionary went to 5000 of these, there would be the need of 600,000 additional missionaries[http://www.actioninternational.org/]!

Monday, November 22, 2010

from the book, "Just Do Something"

by Kevin DeYoung

Obsessing over the future is not how God wants us to live, because showing us the future is not God's way. His way is to speak to us in the Scriptures and transform us by the renewing f our minds. His way is not a crystal ball. His way is wisdom. We should stop looking for God to reveal the future to us and remove all risk from our lives. We should start looking to God-His character and His promises-and thereby have confidence to take risks for His name's sake.

God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He has planned out and works out every detail of our lives-the joyous days and le difficult-all for our good (Ecclesiastes 7:14). Because we have confidence in God's will of decree, we can radically commit ourselves to His will of desire, without fretting over a hidden will of direction.

In other words, God doesn't take risks, so we can.

For some this means trusting God enough to let your money slip through your fingers. For others it means holding it to the Word of God in some difficult circumstances or an unpopular situation. For others it means cross-cultural missions, or more evangelism, or a new dream, or confession of sin, or confrontation of sin, or new vulnerability in a relationsh¬ip. And for some it means getting off your duff and getting a job, or overcoming your fear of rejection and pursuing a lovely Christian woman. For all of us it means putting aside our insatiable desire to have every aspect of our lives, or even the most important aspects of our lives, nailed down before our eyes before we get there.

God has a wonderful plan for your life-a plan that will take you through trial and tri¬umph as you are transformed into the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). Of this we can be absolutely confi¬dent. But God's normal way of operation is not to show this plan to us ahead of time-in retrospect, maybe; in advance, rarely.

Are you feeling directionally challenged by this? Don't de¬spair. God promises to be your sun and your shield and to carry you and protect with His strong right arm. So we can stop pleading with God to show us the future, and start living and obeying like we are confident that He holds the future.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saturation Praying

by Rev. Will Bruce, Minister-at-Large
Overseas Missionary Fellowship
10 West Dry Creek Circle
Littleton, CO 80120-4413
Telephone: 800.422.5330 or 303.730.4160
E-mail: info@omf.org

I. Saturation Praying is praying in which we share, unite, and zero in on the target with specific and full coverage.

Luke 11:1 "Lord, teach us to pray." We are commanded to pray: 1 Thess. 5:17. We are invited to pray:John 14:14. We are the losers if we do not pray: James 4:2b.

We talk to God, the Father through Jesus Christ, the Son, helped by the Holy Spirit. We talk with God simply and naturally as we would talk to others, yet with reverence.

It is hard to change old habit patterns and adopt that which would prove to be more effective in relation to answers for ourselves and for others. Involve the whole family or group in praying--no spectators, all participate. We move on from panic or crisis praying to protective praying.

God loves us, accepts us and cares for us. He will also forgive and cleanse us as we repent. "We are His workmanship." Ephesians 2:10. He is a living God who hears and answers.

II. General Rules:
Brief--back and forth
Only one formal opening and closing
Avoid simply "Lord, bless so and so."
Specific. Not shotgun praying. Luke 11:5,6.
Saturate one subject at a time.
Pray in agreement.
Everyday language but not crude.
Honest and open.
One step at a time.
Then move on to another subject.

An example of saturation praying for a missionary coming home on furlough. Items for prayer will include: extra strength for the multiplied duties prior to his leaving; handing over the work to others; health problems; travel arrangements; safety in travel; needs of the family (change of schools, new friends, culture shock); relationships with family members at home (including unsaved or bereaved ones); a place to live; a ministry in the home church; deputation opportunities; need of a car, furlough studies; ability to communicate the challenge of the field, etc.

Evelyn Christenson has an excellent book on prayer and a leader's guide for teaching prayer. She suggests these 6 simple steps:

1. Subject by subject.
2. Short prayers.
3. Simple prayers.
4. Specific prayers.
5. Silent prayers.
6. Small groups.


III. Five suggested steps for praying, with full freedom to move back and forth between steps:
1. Tune in: Psalm 46:10; Ps. 27:14, and think of:
a. What He is.
b. What He has done for us.
c. What we are in Him.
d. What we have in Him.

2. Praise Him (worship): Phil 4:4-7; 1 Thess. 5:16, and thank Him for:
a. Who He is.
b. What He has done for us.
c. What He will do.
Be specific. Give thanks for NEW LIFE, HEALTH, FAMILY MEMBERS, ANSWERS TO PRAYER, etc.

3. Share personal needs: James 5:13-16. In honesty, in openness, with reality. Use "I" for expressing
a need or in confession, not "We."

4. Bear one another's burdens: Gal. 6:2. Have a real concern for and understanding of one another.
Use your imagination concerning the needs of others. Ask God for guidance.

5. Reach out in earnest, specific, in-depth prayer for other Christians and those without Christ in your
neighborhood, nation, and world.

IV. Benefits:
1. A new awareness of one another.
2. A new sense of being loved.
3. Timid ones begin to participate.
4. Praying is more thorough, therefore more effective.

Some recommended books on prayer:
Prayer Power Unlimited by J. Oswald Sanders
Born for Battle by Arthur Mathews
God's Powerful Weapon by Denis Lane
Prayer without Pretending by Anne Townsend
Mountain Rain by Eileen Crossman, The biography of J.O. Fraser. Gives an ideal example of what is accomplished on the mission field through prayer in the home country.
The Prayer of Faith by J.O. Fraser
Effective Prayer by J. Oswald Sanders

Overseas Missionary Fellowship
10 West Dry Creek Circle
Littleton, CO 80120-4413
Telephone: 800.422.5330 or 303.730.4160
Fax: 303.730.4165
E-mail: info@omf.org

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today is a Bad Day for Children

Today, more children are hungry than any day before. Today, more children are sold into slavery and prostitution than at any other time in history. Today, over 6000 children in Africa lost either their mother or father. Today, children are very responsive to the Gospel. There are over 2 billion children in the world today. One third of the world is under 15 years of age. Let us reach them with the Gospel and compassionate care. Let’s go to the 160 million street children and 145 million orphans worldwide. Let’s disciple them in and through the local church.

ACTION encourages you to go to the Web site www.2fish5bread.com for an excellent resource for evangelism, training materials, and videos in many languages free of charge.

If you wish to serve with children in Africa, Asia, Europe or Latin America, are an evangelical, willing to raise your support, and recommended by your local church, feel free to apply at www.actioninternational.org and in the upper right hand corner, click on “Apply Now” button to begin.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Benefits of Holiness in a Pastor's Life

by Charles Spurgeon

At times we will find it a struggle to live holy, but ‘God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it’ (1 Cor. 10:13b, nasb).

Consider the lasting benefits that Charles Spurgeon noted:
‘Sanctity in ministers is a loud call to sinners to repent, and when allied with holy cheerfulness it becomes wondrously attractive.’- from Lectures to My Students

'In holiness God is more clearly seen than in anything else.’- from Flashes of Thought

‘The serene, silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of the Spirit of God.’ - from Gathered Gold

‘Only sanctified souls are satisfied souls.’ - from An All-Round Ministry

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Strong Faith and Trials

by Charles Spurgeon

“God never gives strong faith without fiery trial; He will not build a strong ship without subjecting it to very mighty storms; He will not make you a mighty warrior if He does not intend to try your skill in battle. The sword of the Lord must be used; the blades of heaven must be smitten against the armor of the evil one, and yet they shall not break, for they are of true Jerusalem metal which shall never snap. We shall conquer, if we begin the battle in the right way. If we have sharpened our swords on the cross, we have nothing whatever to fear; for though we may be sometimes cast down and discomforted, we shall assuredly at last put to flight all our adversaries, for we are the sons of God even now. Why, then, should we fear? Who shall bid us ‘stay’ if God bid us advance?” - from Gleanings Among the Sheaves

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ACTION/CGM Pastors Conference October 8, 2010

Pastor Steve Newman of First Baptist of Lodi, California gave a Men In Ministry Conference today, Friday, October 8, in Manila, Philippines under the direction of ACTION Philippines and Christian Growth Ministries (CGM).

The delegates came as early as 7:30 AM and the hall was almost full. A light breakfast was served while registration was completed. Many delegates expressed their thanks for the breakfast as many of them did not eat before coming to the conference. The delegates were from different parts of Metro Manila and from neighboring provinces. Three delegates came from the northern part of Luzon. There were approximately 110 people that registered and attended.

Rudy Ponce de Leon, a CGM Board Member and elder of San Juan Gospel Chapel, started the conference with a devotional talk. Pastor Steve Newman had four sessions, entitled Avoiding Temptations of Gold, Girls, and Glory; Lessons from Paul’s Address to the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20; the Roles of the Pastor: Servant leadership, Modeling, and Teacher; and Roles of the pastor: Shepherd, Trainer, and Encourager with two sessions each in the morning and afternoon.

The delegates received CLAIM/BookShare set # 47 including three books - Twelve Challenges Churches Face by Mark Dever, Galatians by Dr. Philip Ryken, and Love or Die by Alexander Strauch. These three books were just released by CLAIM (Christian Literature for Asians in Ministry), and the delegates of this conference were the first recipients of these excellent books.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What Does Scrooge Have to do With Christmas?

I recently read the wonderful Christmas story again in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in my “through the bible” reading program. Wonderful! Majestic! Glorious!

Let’s encourage our churches, pastors and music leaders to emphasize the true story of Christmas this year in their plays, dramas and presentations at Christmas, rather than music and dramas that may be entertaining, but have nothing to do with the Gospel of Christmas.

We argue in the US, Canada and the UK about the secularism of Christmas (doing away with nativity scenes, etc.), yet when people come to our Christmas programs, all they see many times are silly dramas, circus acts, dancing, ballets, and Scrooge (what in the world does Scrooge have to do with Christmas anyway, with its swearing).

There is nothing as majestic and glorious as Christmas music and the Christmas story of God coming to earth in the flesh of His Son Jesus! 

So, when people come to our Christmas program, let’s make sure it portrays the Gospel of Christ, and is not just entertaining as the world. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.” (Galatians 4:4 nasb)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Open Adoption

by Charles Spurgeon

Romans 8:23.

Even in this world saints are God's children, but the only way that people will discover this is by certain moral characteristics. The adoption is not displayed; the children are not yet openly declared. Among the Romans a man might adopt a child and keep it private for a long time; but there was a second adoption in public; when the child was brought before the constituted authorities, its old clothes were removed, and the father who took it to be his child gave it clothing suitable to its new status in life. "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared." We are not yet clothed in the apparel of heaven's royal family; we are wearing in this flesh and blood just what we wore as the children of Adam. But we know that "when he appears" who is "the firstborn among many brothers," we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.

Can't you imagine that a child taken from the lowest ranks of society and adopted by a Roman senator would say to himself, "I long for the day when I shall be publicly adopted. Then I shall discard these poor clothes and be dressed in clothes that depict my senatorial rank"? Glad for what he has already received, he still groans until he gets the fullness of what has been promised to him. So it is with us today. We are waiting until we put on our proper clothes and are declared as the children of God for all to see. We are young nobles and have not yet worn our crowns. We are young brides, and the marriage day has not arrived, but our fiancée's love for us leads us to long and sigh for the bridal morning. Our very happiness makes us long for more; our joy, like a swollen stream, longs to spring up like a fountain, leaping to the skies, heaving and groaning within our spirit for lack of space and room by which to reveal itself to men.

1 John 3:2

Romans 8:29

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Does How We Treat Other Nationalities (Races) Matter?

When Jose Rizal visited the United States (April 28 to May 16, 1988), he was impressed with the progress and beauty of the country, the drive and energy of the people, and the opportunities for a better life for immigrants.

However, he was shocked with the discrimination, racism, and prejudice, especially against the poor, Chinese and the blacks.

When Rizal was asked later by a friend what impressions he had of America, he answered, “America is the land par excellence of freedom, but only for the whites.”

“So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Philippians 2:15-16, nasb).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Slavery Was Not Cost Effective (nor the Mistreatment of Employees Today)

There is an excuse by many that slavery was important in the USA in the 1700 and 1800’s because of economics; that the economy of the south depended on slavery. This is simply not true!

Slavery was an obsession and it was very expensive!

It would have been more economical for a plantation owner to give freedom to the slaves and then provide proper housing and an adequate wage; therefore saving the huge expense of purchasing slaves. God’s people would have benefited greatly, not only from caring for these needy in an adequate way, but the conscience of Christians would not have been seared.

Companies, factories, and organizations even today, would greatly benefit if they cared for all their staff and employees in a humane, dignified, and generous way, instead of putting all their profits back into the company. Everyone benefits from the fair and just treatment of all.

"And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail" (Isaiah 58:10- 11, nasb).

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Champions of the Little League World Series

It was interesting to watch some of the Little League World Series games. These young boys between 9 and 12 years old were amazing to watch. In one of the early games, the Japanese team was going into the last inning ahead by one run. The pitcher was facing difficulties with only one out, and runners on first and second. The manager walked out to the mound to encourage him and the team. He sought to encourage the team and as he finished he spoke directly to the pitcher, “You have a good fast ball, use it!” The pitcher smiled and responded, “Hai! (Yes)” and use it, he did. Forgetting his curve ball and other pitches, he simply threw his fast ball striking out the last two batters and won the game. Eventually the team went on to win the Little League World Series.

You and I as Christians may not have a fast ball, but we have the power of the Holy Spirit. We have the fruit of the Spirit and need to use it. God has asked use to go into all the world with the Gospel and we need to obey. We need to say “Hai (Yes)!” moving forward in faith, not in fear or worry, but in confidence like the little Japanese pitcher in the Little League World Series. He was told what to do, and encouraged to do it, he simply responded “Hai (yes)!”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Steps to Becoming an ACTION Team Member: How to become a missionary with Action International Ministries

ACTION is an evangelical mission of 266 missionaries committed to evangelism, discipleship, and development in fulfillment of the Great Commission to the glory of God in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America!

Missionaries needed: There are over 200 ministry opportunities with ACTION. These opportunities are mainly in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Examples are: Bible school teachers, children’s workers, college and seminary professors, discipleship and vocational instructors, evangelists, medical personnel, office administrators, and pastor trainers. Financial Support: all missionaries with ACTION trust the Lord for personal and ministry support. The mission does not guarantee salaries, which depend completely on donations designated for each worker.

Focus: As a mission, we work with all sectors of society but with a special emphasis on the poor, particularly street and other children in crisis. To put this in perspective, there are now 145 million orphans worldwide and 160 million street children. 70 additional missionaries are needed in ministry to street children done.

Length of service: Career missionaries serve at least two years; other opportunities are available for terms of varied lengths of time in such categories as tentmakers, short term (as few as ten days), project workers, and interns on a case-by-case basis.

How to become a missionary with ACTION: If God is giving you a special calling to ministry for any length of time and you would like prayerfully to consider serving with ACTION, you can begin by contacting the Personnel Department in any of the Action International Ministries offices:

USA – Pearl Kallio
PO Box 398, Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043-0398,Tel: 425-775-4800, Fax: 425-775-0643, email: info@actionusa.org

CANADA – Scott Gillespie
3015 A 21 Street NE, Calgary, Alberta T2E 7T1, Telephone: 403-204-1421
Fax: 403-204-1501, email: info@actioncanada.org

UNITED KINGDOM – Doris Abraham
PO Box 144, Wallasey, Wirral CH44 5WE, Registered Charity 1058661; Tel: 011-151-630-2451, email: info@actionuk.org

NEW ZEALAND – Karena George
PO Box 8928, Riccarton 8440, Christchurch, email: admin@brighthopeworld.com

PHILIPPINES – Mary Ann  Anderson
PO Box 110, Greenhills Post Office, 1502 Metro Manila, Tel: 011-632-531-3709,
email: action.philippines@actioninternational.org

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No Time to Waste!

(adapted by Doug Nichols from the book Radical by David Platt)

What happens to people who never hear about Jesus? According to the book of Romans, all people know God, and all people reject God. All people are guilty before God, and all people are condemned for rejecting God. God has made a way of salvation for the lost, and people cannot come to God apart from faith in Christ. As a result, Christ commands the church to make the Gospel known to all peoples.

The implication of these facts for our lives is huge. If more than a billion people today are headed to a Christless eternity and have not heard the Gospel, then we do not have time to waste. There are at least 145 million orphans worldwide who need the Gospel and compassionate care. There are 160 million street children throughout the world who can only come to faith in Christ through the Gospel.

The will of God for us is to give our lives urgently and recklessly to making the Gospel and the glory of God known among all peoples, particularly those who have never even heard of Jesus.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why We Cannot Just Leave Street Children on the Street (Orphanages Can Be Greatly Used by God!)


Updated By Doug Nichols (April 6, 2015)

(Missionary to Children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America since 1968)

It is very discouraging to read articles which are basically negative in regards to caring for orphans and street children in orphanages. Of course, a loving home is better than an orphanage, but does that mean we should give up on orphanages altogether? We do realize that there are some unacceptable orphanages in the world, but creating more loving God centered orphanages could bring glory to God and save thousands of children the pain and abuse they face every day on the street. We need to support both adoption and orphanages.

Although placing a child into a loving family should be our goal, it is not always possible. An orphan or a street child is not taken directly from the street to a home. There is usually some type of government orphanage or childcare agency in which the child is placed while proper records are made. Then the child is placed into a loving family if one can be found.

So, why shouldn’t the church of Jesus Christ start many more orphanages around the world to place street and underprivileged children and orphans into a loving, Christian environment? Orphanages can be safe harbors where children can be lovingly protected and cared for until a home can be found.

A Christian Children’s Village in each country in  Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America with separate homes housing 12 children per home could care for 280 to 500 children! The village would have staff, supervisors, house parents, a school, an all-purpose building, a chapel, a clinic, a play area, and gardens for each house.

Children from neighboring villages could also attend the school. This would enable the orphans to be incorporated into society with other children, families, and loved ones, with the purpose of being adopted whenever possible.

To those who are criticizing orphanages and children’s villages, please, stop doing so and consider what could be done through well-run orphanages. What is the alternative? I believe you would agree that we should not leave the street children and orphans in the sewers, and streets where they are likely to be abused, but that we should place them in a loving environment where they can be cared for, nurtured and ministered to by the grace of God and the Gospel?

Children are tortured, abused, spit upon, kicked, starved and burned on the streets of the world. Why don’t you and I, as Christians, do something about it? Please, encourage your government and church to protect these children, get them off the streets, and place them where they will be loved and cared for in Jesus’ name.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27, ESV)

(This article was adapted by Kevin Hollinger, author of Reactive Attachment Disorder.)

View a simple drawing of a village below.
Christian Children's Village

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rudeness in Seattle (Do you take lessons in being rude?)

Friends of ours arrived at the Minneapolis airport from the Philippines. Even though they had their visas, papers and everything in order, they were treated very rudely by immigration.

Government officials can still do their job without being rude, especially with a sign hanging on the wall (for the immigration and custom officers) stating, “You are the face of the USA”, and then the 6 statements:

•We pledge to cordially greet and welcome you to the United States.
•We pledge to treat you with courtesy, dignity and respect.
•We pledge to explain the CBP process to you.
•We pledge to have a supervisor listen to your comments.
•We pledge to accept and respond to your comments in written, verbal or electronic form.
•We pledge to provide reasonable assistance due to delay or disability.

Source: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/pledge_travelers.xml

When some of our missionaries from India arrived in Seattle, rudeness in immigration was also the order of the day! So much so, that our very gracious and dignified Indian missionary Doctor asked the immigration officer very politely as she was leaving, “May I ask you a question? Do you and the other government workers here take lessons in being rude?”

Why do not government leadership deal with this? Is it because an immigration and custom officer has absolute power? People are afraid to complain, because if they do, their name may be flagged in the computer and the next time they travel into the USA, they will have difficulty.

When I go through immigration and customs, I try to be polite, kind, and gracious, but continue to face and witness rudeness, especially among immigration officers in Canada, the USA, and the UK (but surprisingly not in other countries).

What is sad about this is that Canada, the USA, and the UK all have a Christian heritage.

So, yes, I am wondering; do immigration and custom officers take lessons in rudeness?

This is also a good question for Christians. As God’s people, do we act like Christians? Are we kind, gracious, humble, and considerate of others (Colossians 3:12-14), or just as rude as the world, especially like the immigration and custom officials in Minneapolis and Seattle?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Jesus is Lord

The fundamental confession of a Christian is, “Jesus is Lord. He is my Lord. I am His slave.”

“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10, nasb).

"You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am”
(John 14:13, nasb).

“Jesus is Lord
” means that He is sovereign, Master, and He is totally in charge.

Lord is used 747 times in the New Testament.

Even though we are called slaves of Christ, He calls us friends. Not only does he call us friends, but he has adopted us as Sons and exalted us as joint heirs with Him in glory.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Bible -- King James Version

These are notes taken over a period of time in studies (from KJV). If you see corrections, please let me know.

Books of the Bible

Books – 66
The O.T. – 39
The N.T. – 27
Middle book of the O.T. Proverbs
Middle book of the N.T. 2 Thessalonians
Middle book of the whole Bible – Micah and Nahum
Smallest book in the whole Bible – 3 John
Smallest book in the O.T. – Obadiah
Smallest book in the N.T. – 3 John

Chapters of the Bible


Entire Bible – 1,189 chapters
O.T. – 929 chapters
N.T. – 260 chapters
Middle chapter of O.T. – Job 29
Middle chapter of N.T. – Romans 13 (& 14)
Middle and shortest chapter of the Bible – Psalm 117
Longest chapter in the Bible – Psalm 119
Chapters that are alike in the Bible – 2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37

Verses of the Bible

O.T. – 23,214 verses
N.T. – 7,959 Verses
Middle verse of the Bible – Psalm 118:8 – (This is debated. Some say Psalm 103 between verses 1 and 2 and some also say Psalm 117: between verses 1 and 2. Scholars can’t agree on how to get to the middle.)
Middle verse of the O.T. – 2 Chronicles 20:17
Middle verse of the N.T. – Acts 17:17
Shortest verse of the O.T. – 1 Chronicles 1:25
Shortest verse of the N.T. – John 11:35
Shortest verse of the whole Bible – John 11:35
Verses in the whole Bible – 31,173
Longest verse in the Bible – Esther 8:9
Verse containing all letters of the alphabet
except “J” – Ezra 7:21
Verse containing all letters of the alphabet
except “Q” – Daniel 4:37
Verses alike – Psalm 107 verse 8,15,21,31

Words of the Bible

O.T. – 592,439
N.T. – 181,253
Whole Bible – 773,692
Longest word – Mahershalalhashbaz 18 letters, Isaiah 8:1
Eternity – Isaiah 57:15 – (Some say 4x)
Reverend – Psalm 111:9
Grandmother – 2 Timothy 1:5
Gnat- Matthew 23:24
“And” occurs 35,543 in O.T., 10,684 in N.T.
God occurs 4,379 times – (3,358 times in some translation)
Lord occurs 7,738 times – (7,736 and 7,830 times in other translations)
Boy and boys – 3 times
Girl and girls – 2 times

Letters of the Bible

In O.T. – 2,728,100
In N.T. – 838,380
Whole Bible – 3,566,480

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guidelines for Preaching from John Calvin.

The following are seven quotes from The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steven Lawson.

We trust they are a blessing to you.

Approaching the Pulpit

1. Calvin was now Genevan dictator, ruling the population with a rod of iron. He was not even a citizen of Geneva throughout his time there, and was thus denied access to political authority. His status was simply that of a pastor who was in no position to dictate to the magisterial authorities who administered the city….Calvin’s influence over Geneva rested ultimately not in his formal legal standing (which was insignificant) but in his considerable personal authority as a preacher and pastor.- Alister E. McGrath [p.21]

Preparing the Preacher

2. Calvin always persevered in ministry, never slacking before his audience of One. Charles H. Spurgeon confessed, “I do love that man of God; suffering all his life long, enduring not only persecutions from without but a complication of disorders from within, and yet serving his Master with all his heart.”

However, Calvin was quick to credit divine grace for his endurance, affirming that “when anyone is drawn into arduous and difficult struggles he is, at the same time, especially strengthened by the Lord.” Calvin simply believed that strong preaching is the result of a strong drive within the preacher, and that fueled by God. He declared that mental and volitional weakness has no place in a pastor’s heart. He wrote, “Nothing is more contrary to the pure and free preaching of the gospel than the straits of a faint heart.”[p. 49-50]

Launching the Sermon

3. Calvin’s sermons usually lasted an hour and were in the nature of continuous expositions. He began at the first verse of a Bible book and then treated it in successive sections, averaging four or five verses, until he reached the end, at which point he began another book.- James Montgomery Boice [p.53]

4. As John Calvin ascended the pulpit, an all-absorbing purpose lay before him-the faithful exposition of scripture. His mind was not diverted by the varied tasks of the contemporary pulpit. He did not need to jump through the modern-day hoops of prolonged announcements, mostly of a trivial nature. He was not jolted by the artificial stimuli of the hard-driving music so often forced on churches today. Rather, with singularity of thought, sublimity of spirit, and spirituality of mind, Calvin stood to bring a sermon that would unveil the matchless glory of God. [p.53-54]

5. Calvin was not a sliver tongued orator, but a Bible-teaching expositor. Above all else, he desired to bring his people to the scriptures. [p.55]

6. When Calvin stepped into his pulpit, he did not bring a manuscript of his sermon with him. But that was not because he had neglected intense study and rigorous preparation, as some have charged. In fact, the Reformer was well-prepared in the text as he stood to preach. As we have seen, he studied with utmost diligence before he approached the pulpit. As Calvin himself said:

If I should enter the public without deigning to look at a book and should frivolously think to myself, “Oh, well, when I preach, God will give me enough to say,” and come here without troubling to read or think what I ought to declare, and do nor carefully consider how I must apply Holy Scripture to the edification of the people, then I should be an arrogant upstart.

Calvin made a conscious choice to expound the Scriptures with no preaching notes before him. Mindful that he must speak to everyday people where they lived, and not to professional theologians, he wanted his sermons to have a pastoral tone and natural delivery. Relying on the Holy Spirit, he stood before the people with only an open Bible and drew upon his thorough study of the passage. The resulting exposition was a clear, compact explanation of the text, accompanied by practical application and passionate exhortation. [p.58]

7. By this practice of stating his theme in the introduction, Calvin established the framework of a building argument before expositing the text itself. In doing so, he put his listeners into the mind of the biblical author from the very outset of the sermon. Laying out the overarching argument of the book and showing how a particular passage fit into it was a significant aspect of Calvin’s expository genius. [p.62]

Steven J. Lawson, The Expository Genius of John Calvin, Reformation Trust Publishing, Orlando, Florida, 2007.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What Would We Ever Do Without Our Friends?

Someone said, “What would we do without our friends?” Yesterday someone topped the branches from one of our trees and cleaned out the gutters of our house. He knew I had not been able to get to it, and it would be difficult for me because of my arthritis.

Other friends phoned this morning to see if Dad Jespersen was okay and if they could do anything to help care for him.

Recently another friend heard a conference speaker say that he had a lot of books for needy pastors. The books were free for the taking, so we asked for 2000 copies to be shipped to Zambia pastors and the organization gave another 1000 copies of the book for needy pastors in the Philippines. We received $21,000 worth of books because of the contact of a concerned friend.

Another acquaintance phoned me this morning to tell me he was gathering reference books which were not being used for needy pastors from the church library.
Two days ago, someone dropped off a used sewing machine and other electrical items for a vocational training school in the Philippines.

We received a $20 gift from an older lady in a retirement home which she received for watching another lady’s cat. She wanted the money to be used for the sharing of the Gospel with needy children.

I could go on and on, but I will finish with these questions, “To whom can we be a friend today? To whom can we reach out? Whom can we help with a chore that needs doing?”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Paying to be Re-baptized

Tours in Israel seem to be very commercialized. One runs from one place to another.

On the tour, many Christians want to be baptized in the Jordan River. Why? What is the spiritual significance of the water of the Jordan? Is it spiritual holy water?
To be baptized in the Jordan River you even have to pay for the privilege. Most evangelical Christians have already been baptized, so why be re-baptized, especially if you have to pay?

If you are a believer, and not been baptized, you need to obey the Lord and follow Him in baptism but once is enough. As for as going to the Israel, as one man told my father-in-law, “I would rather obey Jesus and take the Gospel to where He has never walked before, rather than go to Israel where Christ walked.” What about you?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gospel Taking Root


by Steve Allen, ACTION Zambia missionary

"He is going to hell!" I sat in my wicker chair, dumfounded by my two
Zambian friends. A missionary with our team had been creating a 12 week
basic discipleship course crafted for Zambians, using cultural illustrations
and simple verses to help them understand the gospel.

The first lesson started off with the following illustration: A Christian
man got on a mini-bus (the form of transportation here in Lusaka) and forgot
to pay the driver and the driver forgets to collect the money. Midway
through the bus ride, the Christian man remembers that he did not pay the
driver but decides not to say anything. He gets off the bus and then gets
hit by a car and immediately dies. My friend then asks the question in the
study, "Will this man go to Heaven or Hell?" My friend shared with me
after explaining this story, "I have never met a Zambian who didn't say
hell. They just don't understand the gospel." I found this too difficult to
believe, so I decided to try it out during a weekly bible study with a
couple Zambian friends. I had been spending months with them going through
the scriptures and was fairly confident they would say Heaven.

I would prove him wrong.

But, sure enough, both of them confidently said, "Hell!"

"Hell?!?" I exclaimed, "Why does he go to Hell?"

They responded in unison "Because he sinned."

I was so stunned I didn't know how to answer.

I know that even in America there are denominations that would agree with my
Zambian friends assessment of salvation, that you can lose your blood-paid
salvation. They are members of churches that would ignore the ingenious
interwoven tension between predestination and perseverance. But, at least
most are educated enough to make that decision. But, in Africa, the problem
goes much deeper. There are pastors across denominational lines that seek
to control their congregations with a legalistic and joyless religion that
keeps people obeying out of fear rather than love.

These pastors either out of lack of education or a quest for power heap
burdens on their people and do not lift a finger to help them out. So, their
eternal destiny lies in the power of one badly timed decision.
After recovering from my shock, I had them open the bible to Ephesians and
read the first 15 verses. After a conversation explaining the importance of
predestination and sealing, the young lady's smile seemed to beg the
question, "Is this just too good to be true? "

After sharing about how grace motivates obedience because of God's lavishing
love, it was as if saw a physical burden lifted from her shoulders. Her
smile said it all.

That next week I posed the same question during a talk on the gospel at a
preaching conference with about 50 pastors. More than half responded that
that same young man was going to hell while a smaller minority raised their
hand believing that somehow this man would still go to heaven. I looked at
one of the majority pastors and said, "Are you married?" He replied, "Yes, I
am." "Do you ever sin against your wife?" He smiled and said, "Yes, I have
sinned against my wife." In spite of the translation transition, the
pastors saw where I was going and they began laughing and speaking rapidly
in Nyanga, their native tongue. "Well, I asked slowly, "Are you still
married?" He didn't even need to finish the sentence because he knew why
I was asking the question. I continued, "But you sinned against her. How
can you still be married?" I then asked about my adopted daughter. "If my
adopted Zambian daughter, the one I chose, the one I love, were to sin
against me, is she still my daughter?" I led them through some very basic
verses about the gospel how God chose us, adopted us and sealed us and in
just a few minutes, a very major doctrine became clear.

Of the minority that did raise their hand that this man was going to Heaven,
five were in our ACTION Pastor's College and a few others had gone through
our 1 year discipleship course. I was delighted to see they understood, and
that the teaching was paying off. It doesn't take much to bring a freedom to
serve by faith. It doesn't take much, just some time letting the Bible
transform a culture so that the Word can expose the lies and reveal the
truth. Perhaps it just takes some blessed feet to bring the good news to
these Christians so they can be born again for the first time.

by Steve Allen, ACTION Zambia missionary

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hunt for Truth

C.H. Spurgeon
John 5:39

The Greek word translated search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, the kind men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in pursuit of game. We must not be content with giving a superficial glance to one or two chapters, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the meaning of the Word.

Holy Scripture requires searching—much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babies, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, indeed, upon every title of Scripture. Tertullian declared, "I adore the fullness of the Scriptures." The person who merely skims the Book of God will not profit from it; we must dig and mine until we obtain the treasure. The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures demand to be searched. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur—who shall dare to treat them casually? To despise them is to despise the God who wrote them.

God forbid that any of us should allow our Bibles to become witnesses against us in the great day of account. The Word of God will repay searching. God does not ask us to sift through a mountain of chaff with only here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is sifted corn—we have only to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student.

It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye, it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with gold and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. There is no merchandise like the merchandise of scriptural truth. Finally, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: "They that bear witness about me." No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: He who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, and all things. Happy are they who, in searching the Bible, discover their Savior.

http://www.truthforlife.org/resources/daily-devotionals/6/9/

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are You Easily Offended?

One of the biggest problems in the Christian church today is Christians who are easily offended. The sad truth is that even some Christian leaders are easily angered and offended!

The true mark of a mature Christian is a life that is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, nasb).

Many Bible commentators feel that love is the fruit, with the other eight characteristics listed simply as a manifestation of love.

We read in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love “is not easily provoked”, which means "not easily offended”.

Are you living a life of love? Do you manifest in your life the qualities of this spiritual fruit of love? If you do, you will not be easily offended.

A spirit-filled life is one that is not easily angered or insulted. Here is a simple list of questions to check yourself to see if you are truly walking in the Spirit.

How do you react or act when:

1.Your name is spelled wrong or mispronounced or not remembered?
2.You are not recognized?
3.You are not called upon to pray, sing, cook, speak, testify, or lead?
4.You are not elected to the church board of elders or deacons or even on the music or Sunday school committee?
5.You are not chosen as the most creative, most friendly, or cutest?
6.You are just plain forgotten, treated wrongly or rudely?
7.You are not given a raise or promotion?
8.No one seems to like you, or you are lonely and no one seems to care, no one encourages you?

If you react to any of these situations with anger or by being offended or insulted, the Bible says you are not living in the spirit of love.

Let us all deal with this matter in our lives! Let’s put Christ and others first and not think of ourselves and our feeling so much.

The mark of maturity in a Christian life is Christ having first place in our lives and not ourselves!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Be Filled with Zeal

by Charles Spurgeon

Revelation 1:19

If you want to see souls converted, if you want to hear the cry that "the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, "1 if you want to place crowns upon the head of the Savior and sce His throne lifted high, then be filled with zeal. For under God, the way the world will be converted is by the zeal of the church. Every element of grace will do its work, but zeal will be first; prudence, knowledge, patience, and courage will follow in their places, but zeal must lead the charge. It is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful, it is not the extent of your talent, though that is not to be despised, it is your zeal that will do great exploits.

This zeal is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: It draws its vital force from the continued operations of the Holy Spirit in the soul. If our inner life dwindles, if our heart beats slowly before God, we will not know zeal; but if everything inside is strong and vigorous, then we cannot but feel a loving urgency to see Christ's kingdom come, and His will done on earth, even as it is in heaven.

A deep sense of gratitude will nourish Christian zeal. When we reflect on the miry pit from which we were lifted, we find plenty of reason for spending ourselves for God. And zeal is also stimulated by the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of hell, and it cannot sleep: It looks up with anxious gaze to the glories of heaven, and it cannot stay still. It feels that time is short compared with the work to be done, and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord. And it is continually strengthened by remembering Christ's example. He was clothed with zeal as with a cloak. How swift the chariot-wheels of duty went with Him! He never loitered on the way. Let us prove that we are His disciples by displaying the same spirit of zeal.

1Revelation 11:15
http://www.truthforlife.org/resources/daily-devotionals/

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Does it pay to cuss and criticize or to encourage?

Our grandson, DJ (David Joseph Nichols) had a successful 2010 high school baseball season as a junior despite not being able to play on the Varsity team due to being a recent transfer from another high school. This was very encouraging to DJ after coming from his previous school which had a highly developed baseball program where he was allowed little playing time and very little margin of error.

That season at a new school and with new coaches, new life was breathed into DJ. They immediately noticed his skills and potential, as well as his kind, humble, and teachable heart. Finally, he could relax and not play in fear. Instead of being under hard constant criticism and cussed out for falling short of any standard that was expected, DJ was encouraged and given room to grow, while productively being challenged under positive and effective coaching. DJ found joy again in playing the game he loved so much. The more DJ relaxed, the more his natural skills that can't be taught, began to soar.

The entire season DJ was the clean-up hitter, batting 4th in the lineup. Defensively he showed his versatility playing 1st, 3rd, catcher and pitching for the first time in a game, 3 innings in a row. In that particular game, DJ was picked on the spot without notice to relieve the starting pitcher because of his arm strength. Despite the pressure and nerves, DJ calmly came through, throwing mostly strikes and not allowing the other team to score.

Once the season ended, his Batting Average was .472. DJ had 25 hits, including 9 doubles (led the team by far), and 3 triples (tied for the lead on the team). He scored 18 runs and had 23 RBI's. DJ had 14 walks (led the team), and his On-Base Percentage was .606.

His pitching and defensive stats were not recorded, but there is no question he was one of the strongest defensive player. DJ was known for doing the splits off the bases, and getting covered with dirt making dives to stop the ball from getting past him. He always seemed to be covered in red clay!

At the awards banquet, DJ received MVP for the JV team, not just for his stats, but his leadership qualities and character on and off the field. Through it all, DJ remained humble and appreciative of any and every opportunity he had to play the game he is so passionate about. When asked which position he'd rather play, he responded, "I just want to play!" You will never hear him brag about his accomplishments or what he brought to the team, or even gripe or throw an attitude when things didn't go his way. Rather, you heard him encourage his teammates, especially those struggling, and was a positive voice for his team. DJ gained respect as a leader from fellow teammates, and was trusted by the coaches. Although it wasn't an easy journey for him being undermined in the past, DJ always persevered and maintained a respectful attitude. He continued to press on, appreciative of all the adversity he faced up to this point which has helped him become the young man and player he now is.

One of DJ's coaches shared, "DJ is a pleasure to be around on the baseball field, and a great young man." And from another coach, "DJ is a great young man and truly someone I believe can be a leader for us in his senior year on the Varsity."

That summer, DJ was invited to play on an elite showcase travel team, playing at 20 college campuses and in front of pro and college scouts. In his senior year, DJ played against his old school and coaches. He looked forward to shaking their hands as a starting Varsity player, and hoped it would encourage the hearts of these coaches to once again find their joy in this incredible opportunity given to them to invest in the lives of high school players.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Do you have to be Filipino to be nice?

Recently while visiting a friend in a hospital, I ate at the cafeteria. While in line to pay for my food, I noticed a commotion at the front of the line near the cash register. I realized that a couple did not have funds to pay for their food; their credit or debit card did not work and they had no cash. I stepped to the front of the line and offered to include their charges on my bill. However, the cashier said, “No, sir! I will take care of it.”

I found out later that she personally was going to cover their bill, but her supervisor told her that the hospital would pay.

Isn’t that something? This young lady, who probably needed funds herself, offered to pay for the financial needs of an embarrassed, older couple. I thanked her for her kindness and generosity which is typical of Filipinos.

However, we do not need to be Filipino to be nice. Maybe you are Chinese, German, Irish, Ugandan, or whatever background you are as a Christian, let’s reach out to others in the kindness of Christ which opens the door to share the glorious Gospel of salvation in Christ, and in Him alone.

[Footnote: This is one of the reasons why it is important to always carry cash enabling you to help others without hesitation wondering whether you have enough money or not. Just do it!]

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do you work with humble servants?

Let me share two stories of servant leadership:

ACTION USA Director, Rex Lee Carlaw, had just returned from several weeks of ministry in Latin America. He was, of course, tired from many meetings, travel, and now was faced with a huge backlog of mission correspondence with many items needing his attention. However, a friend of his was in need as his elderly father needed assistance going through security at the Seattle airport. Rex received special permission from the airlines to aid this elderly gentleman, so he took off an entire morning to help this man through the check-in for his flight, baggage, security, and on to the plane.

I thought later, “What a tremendous example! This is the kind of friend I would like to be.” Even with a heavy work load, much to accomplish, people to see and telephone, and team members to care for, Rex still took time off to help a friend in need.

I share office space with Nelson Reed, ACTION’s International Director. Most of the time, we are not in the office at the same time because of our various ministries and travels, so this “office sharing” works quite well for us. When we are in the office at the same time and he has a meeting or receives a private phone call, it is quite easy for me to work elsewhere in the building, even the store room, as I dictate correspondence through a voice recorder. I do not use a computer well, so my assistants type my correspondence from recorded mini cassettes onto a computer. However, it is not as easy for Nelson to leave the office as he does his own correspondence on his computer.

Something happened recently that displayed once again what a humble man Nelson is. He told me he would be leaving the office around 3 PM for several appointments, and I would be able to work in the office alone, so at 3 PM I was ready to do some dictation, and Nelson left. After about one hour, I came out of the office and saw Nelson at another small desk working on his notebook computer. He had remembered he had several other things to do which he had not taken care of. I thought, “Here is our International Director moving to a small work station outside his office to work on international matters not wanting to disturb me and my work.” What a humble servant to inconvenience himself not wanting to bother another brother’s work in ministry!

You may say these are very simple incidents. If they are, then why don’t many of us do simple things like these more often? They are wonderful examples to follow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Statistics Regarding Aids

Statistics Regarding AIDS

The following statistics were taken from “The Skeptics Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis” Revised Edition by Dale Hanson Bourke:

1. “Nine out of ten children living with HIV and AIDS are African.” (page 21)

2. “In 2010, it is estimated that there will be 25 million AIDS orphans in the World. (page 27)

3. “Nearly 6,000 young people, between the ages of 15 and 25, are infected every day.” (page 29)

4. “In African countries, studies estimate that between 19 percent and 53 percent of all government health employee deaths are caused by AIDS.” (page 31)

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 43)

6. “India now has an estimated 5.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS, making it the country with the greatest number of infections in the world.” (page 47)

The following statistics were taken from AIDS Care Education and Training (ACET) - United… In a global response to AIDS:
7. Around 33 million people are living with HIV, of which 2 million are children (Source UNAIDS)

8. In some countries, over 20% of all people are infected with HIV and life expectancy has fallen below 36.

9. It is estimated there are 0.5 million people living with HIV in Russia, with this number growing 20% in the last year. The majority, 72% according to official figures, contracted the infection through injecting drug use.

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.