Thursday, September 25, 2014

Not Just A Soup Kitchen

Not Just A Soup Kitchen is an excellent "how to" book on local church mercy ministries, and was a pleasure to read on recent flight from Seattle to Atlanta. Written by David Apple, the director of the ACTS Ministry of Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia, and published by CLC Publications. The book also gives excellent guidelines for the role of the deacon in a local church in mercy ministries. One chapter gives the excellent history of the biblical role of the deacon which was fully developed by the reformer John Calvin (what a tremendous encouraging historical example!). Was disappointed in the use of quotes by Catholic Henry Nouwen, however the guidelines for mercy ministries is still exceptional and will be useful in all evangelical churches. Wonderful illustrations of working with the needy. Great book. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Encouragement of Others

Encourage people in the Gospel, to carry on, to aim high, to stand firm, to please God, and to look ahead to the glory of God.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Not Good!

Why do some churches emphasize one area of the world and certain types of ministry for missions over others? 

The local church is to have a burden and ministry to the world, not just a particular country or type of ministry. This limits the work of the Holy Spirit in calling people from the church to anywhere in the world. 

Yes, missions can focus on particular areas, but not the local church!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Is Ministry to Children Important?

The Philippines has over 100 million people with the majority being 15 years and under.

Why not more emphasis in the church and missions for more ministry to them? Estimated 1.5 million street children throughout the country and who knows how many orphans! 

Pray that God will raise up a hundreds of workers with the gospel and compassion for the children of the Philippines and the world.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Whom Are You Serving?

by Randy Alcorn

I appreciate these thoughts from our friend Joni Eareckson Tada on Christ being the motivation for our earthly service. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:7-8, we are to “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” —Colossians 3:23-24

Sometimes I hear people say that a single man has “given his elderly parent the best years of his life.” Or I hear about a mother who has sacrificed all to “devote her years to care for her handicapped child.” Occasionally it is a missionary who has “given up her life for the mission field.”

And sometimes I hear that this single man, mother, or missionary has nearly worn out himself or herself, collapsing in bone-weary exhaustion. No wonder these people sound tired. Whom do they think they’re serving? Jesus must not only energize our service, He must be the focus of our service. As Colossians chapter 3 advises, “Whatever you do work at it with all you heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Yes service to God means sacrifice and devotion. But we don’t give up our lives to serve others—we give up our lives to serve the Lord. It is almost incidental that we are serving a husband or wife, an elderly parent, a handicapped child, or a tribe on a mission field.

When our focus in Christian service is squarely on the Lord Jesus, our work may be tiring, but it doesn’t have to be tiresome. We may get weary, but our work does not have to be wearisome if our energy comes directly from the Lord Jesus. How can service to the Lord be a tedious, boring effort?

Lord Jesus, it is You whom I love to serve. Help me to keep my focus on You today so that I will have all the energy I need to help others around me.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust. Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Read more:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ten Things I Would Do If I Were President!

by Pastor Perry Noble

This article is for entertainment purposes only. I am not running for president, nor am I considering it. But, if I did…

#1 – I would lead, not bow down to the idol of political correctness. The problem in Washington (not just with the President…but with BOTH parties) is that no one is willing to actually say what the problems are OR deal with them because doing so would require facts to be dealt with rather than swept under the rug. 
#2 – I would tell the nations across the world that are currently detaining Americans and being very public about it that they have 24 hours to release our citizens…or we’re coming to get them! (For example, Mexico, North Korea and Iran!) 
#3 – I would not delay one more second in dealing with immigration reform. People who want to come to the US must be treated with compassion and understanding, but there also has to be a legal process than must be declared and enforced. 
#4 – I would cut the corporate tax rate to 25% across the board, encouraging businesses to stop leaving the United States and actually bring jobs to our country. 
#5 – I would drill for oil on the land we own and not allow special interest groups to dictate the decisions to do so. If we have the resources to take care of/provide for our country (and others as well)…we are insane not to use them!   
#6 – I would call ISIS a terrorist group, declare war on them and do whatever it takes to take care of the problem. 
#7 – I would reform welfare (the system is necessary—but it is also JACKED UP!) The solution for the country is not more government handouts…but creating more jobs. 
#8 – I would cease to provide ANY funding at all to nations that have any ties to supporting terrorism. 
#9 – I would impose a tax system that would be fair to everyone, a percentage based system (whether it be 5 or 10%) that would mean all people are contributing. 
#10 – I would impose a 32-team college football playoff system so we could have a true national champion every year!!! 
By the way…I STILL believe the GOSPEL is the hope of the world. JESUS CHRIST changing hearts is the ONLY WAY the world can become a better place…and I LOVE being a pastor, not the President!

Disclaimer:  These are not the political opinions of New Spring Church, nor am I speaking for every staff member of our church. It’s simply a fun post that I decided to write. I know that some people say pastors should not have political opinions…but I have noticed that they only say that when the pastor's political opinions do not line up with their own!) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fast Facts on the Religious Motivation for Violence of Islamic Extremist Groups

  • In recent days the world has been shocked by the atrocities being carried out by the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS. What is the religious motivation for such barbaric activity? 
  • The Islamic holy book, the Koran, contains 109 “war verses” advocating the killing of Jews, Christians, and other infidels (See for example: Surah 8:12-13; Surah 9:5-30,123; Surah 47:4). This is significant, as Muslims believe the words of the Koran come directly from Allah.
  • During his lifetime, Mohammed, the founder and prophet of Islam, ordered or led 73 attacks against non-Muslim Arabs, Jews, and Christians. The example of their prophet is powerful motivation for the Islamic extremist.
  • Islam historically has divided the world into two distinct camps: the dar al harb (house of war) vs. the dar al Islam (house of Islam). Thus, according to Islamic extremists, you are either a Muslim or you are at war with Islam.
  • Islam is a religion of works and entrance into the Islamic paradise must be earned. However, because Allah is capricious by nature there is no assurance of salvation in Islam. The only certain way to gain paradise in Islam is to die as a martyr in jihad or “holy war” for Allah (Surah 4:47; Surah 9:89).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Four of the Attributes of God

WISE: God knows what is best.
GENEROUS: God gives what is best.
LOVING: God does what is best.
GOOD: God is what is best.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Creation:The Fact That Leads to Faith

by Daryl Wingerd

The Bible begins with a simple statement of fact: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). There are no commands given to men right away, no moral expectations—just this amazing fact. We live in, and are part of, a creation. We call the world around us “nature,” but it is not at all “natural,” at least not in the sense that it just happened. It did not merely come about. All that exists was created—fashioned by God in His infinite wisdom and power.

Starting with that simple yet profound fact, join me in following the progression of logic the Bible presents regarding creation. It is not necessarily in the order of the individual books, but it is there nonetheless, and unarguably clear.

The fact is, God created everything. The logical derivative from that fact is that God deserves to be praised and honored . . . He deserves to be worshiped! And this is precisely what we read near the end of the Bible, in Revelation 4:11.

Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

Because He created all things, He is worthy to be worshiped. No leap in logic there, but rather basic, don’t you think? After all, we praise people for designing and building nice houses, or for sculpting great works of art, or painting the ceilings of old churches. We honor them for “creating” these things, don’t we? So why, when considering the immeasurably stretched out heavens and the vastness of the sea and all its life, and the grandeur of the great mountain ranges, the intricacy of the snowflake and the ingenious workings of even the tiniest creatures, the design of the human body—things that make the most clever works of man look like a child’s mud-pie art by comparison—would we not ascribe praise to the Maker of it all? Why would we not see in all of these creations evidence for the majesty of the Creator? We do—we would—we should—if we were thinking rationally.

But man does not think rationally. Ever since the entrance of sin into the world, as the Bible says, mankind “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” (Rom. 1:25). Imagine praising the artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel rather than Michelangelo, the artist who created it. Imagine honoring the painted metal body of a ’65 Ford Mustang rather Donald N. Frey, than the man who designed it. The creator deserves the praise, not the thing created. It is irrational to adore and praise the lesser thing—the thing created—while ignoring the obviously superior—the creator. It simply doesn’t make sense. It is also evil—immoral. God makes this plain in His response to men who choose to worship the creation rather than the Creator. They experience His wrath rather than His favor (see Rom. 1:18-32).

But the biblical logic goes further. Who is this God? Who is the person who created all of this? Who is worthy of your worship? John 1, Colossians 1, and 1 Corinthians 8 reveal that He is “the Word,” “the image of the invisible God,” the Son. We know Him as Jesus Christ, God incarnate. The same person who walked with the twelve, offended the religious leaders, died on the cross, rose from the grave, and is now seated in glory as the ruler over all, was “in the beginning” with God. “Without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).

Furthermore, creation implies ownership, and ownership implies authority. Everything around you is His possession. You are His possession. He made you, and He owns you. He thereby has the right to command you, just as He commands the rest of His creation—just as He said, “Hush, be still” to the raging storm as His disciples watched in fear (Mark 4:35-41). The difference is, the wind and the sea have no rebellious spirit. The clouds and the mountains and the sand and the rivers and the stars in heaven do exactly as their Creator directs them—without question or hesitation. But men in their slavery to sin resist and rebel, twisting reality into a delusion of self-rule and the worship of self and things. Raging against God and against His Christ, even against logic itself, they create their own “kingdoms” of paper and straw, ready to be quickly consumed by the coming fires of God’s wrath . . . unless they come to their senses, recognize their status as creations of the Almighty God, and humble themselves in worshiping and serving their Creator.

The fact is, nothing else makes any sense.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

"All Nations" and Church Planting

by Ed Stetzer

How does church planting relate to the Great Commission and Jesus' call to reach the nations?

The Great Commission. Neither the words "great" nor "commission" are in the text, but the descriptor fits. This "authoritative order, charge, or direction" is "unusually large, extreme, and notable" (borrowing phrases from textbook definitions of both words). But why?

The sheer scope of the assignment is embodied in the two little words: all nations. This phrase is translated from the Greek panta ta ethnÄ“. It is often the subject of significant discussion. When many people hearethnÄ“, or "nations," they think of countries. But when Jesus spoke those words, there were no countries as we understand them today. The nation-state is an invention of the modern era. In Jesus' day, there were groups of people, and there were empires. So, Jesus spoke of peoples—all peoples.

When Jesus said "to all nations," He did not mean exactly what missiologists like me want to read into the text—as if He was speaking of the eleven thousand ethnolinguistic people groups in the world today. However, He meant to identify more than simply the non-Jews or Gentiles. He spoke to a Jewish people who knew that God created the nations at Babel (Gen. 11:9), called the nations "up to Jerusalem" (Isa. 2), displayed the tongues of the nations at Pentecost (Acts 2), and will be worshiped by men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation forever (Rev. 7).

In other words, when Jesus spoke of going to the nations, the hearers of His day knew the immensity of this remarkable task. The idea of "the nations" was not new to them—though Jesus was changing how the people of God engaged them.

Upon hearing those words, the disciples took action. What they did reveals what they thought Jesus meant when He told them to go to all nations. They went to all nations—and planted churches. And so should we.In speaking of the nations, Jesus reversed the direction of mission. It was no longer that the nations were to go up to Jerusalem (Isa. 2), but that the disciples were now to go out from Jerusalem (Acts 1:8).

The Great Commission without a focus on the nations is missing its biblical context, the disciples' actions, and the place it holds in the mission of God. The Great Commission without a planting focus is missing the point of what they did upon hearing the Great Commission.

When Jesus said, "all nations," He redirected the mission and sent His people to the nations. Depending on who counts and how they count, there are more than six thousand unreached people groups. Just less than three thousand of those are unengaged, meaning there is little to no witness present.

The nations matter in the Great Commission, and God is calling us to plant churches among those (and other) nations. They need new church plants.

Your nation, wherever you are reading this, is among the nations. Wherever you are reading this, this passage applies. Church planting is to take place in your nation, just as it should in all nations. Sometimes that's because the nations live in our nation. In the U.S. alone, there are more than five hundred unengaged, unreached people groups.

In research released last year by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, missiologist Todd M. Johnson and his team found that nearly twenty percent of non-Christians in North America do not personally know a Christian. More than seventy-five percent of the Sikhs, Hindus, and Jains living in the U.S. do not know a Christian. The same is true for more than sixty-five percent of Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, and practitioners of Chinese folk religion. Even forty-two percent of Muslims acknowledge that they have no close Christian contacts. They need new church plants.

The Great Commission cannot be fulfilled without church planting. Jesus told us to disciple, baptize, and teach. Those three things are done in the context of a local church. If you want to see people become disciples, be baptized, and taught the Word of God, be it in a large American city or a rural Asian village, church planting must be one of the means.But, even people in majority culture need new churches. The church is central to God's mission to proclaim the story of Jesus to every man, woman, and child. As we look to the New Testament, we see that intentional church planting, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was a key method used by early churches to obey Jesus' command. That should be true today. And that includes planting churches in urban centers, growing suburbs, rural communities, and more. They need new church plants.

Someone planted the church you attend. Someone planted the church from which someone came to tell you the gospel. Someone planted the church where you were a new disciple, were baptized, and where you were first taught.

Don't let your church be a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission highway. The nations—and the lost in this nation—need more. They need [the gospel and a church planted among them.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Eight Ways to Comfort the Suffering

by Evan Welcher

People suffer differently. People are soothed differently. The goal of discipleship in the midst of suffering must be comfort in Christ, for the closer we walk with the Lord Jesus the more we see of the massive burden he always carries on our behalf. Surely the Lord Jesus walks with us through the feasts and the famines (Ps. 23).

Here are some lessons I have learned since joining the fellowship of suffering.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Sampler of "I Want to Know More of Christ"

by Steve Hall

I'm excited that a sampler of my devotional book, "I Want to 
Know More of Christ," recently became available on YouVersion, at . I invite anyone who has a YouVersion app, and is desirous of knowing more of the glorious Christ each day, to check it out. Would you please share this with others in your spheres of influence too?

Whether you have gone through the whole book previously or not, the Spirit can reveal more of the matchless Christ to you every time you focus on Him. And, this might be a great way to introduce friends, family members, others in a Bible study or home fellowship group, and so on, to studying Christ with you.