Wednesday, September 15, 2021

How Is Your Thankfulness Today (as well as yesterday)?

Have you ever wondered why you receive no thanks when you give or do some for someone?

Well what about us? Are we personally, especially as Christians, a thankful people?

- Have we thanked our wonderful gracious God today for His salvation and tender mercies to us such sinful people?

- As we worship on Sundays, do we lift our hearts to our Heavenly Father in praise and thankfulness to Him?

- Did you thank your pastor last Sunday for his message?
 
- Have we thanked the deacons, teachers, elders, ushers, greeters, music leaders, kitchen crew, and others at your church for their excellent service? How about taking a gift card to each from time to time! (However this does not always work as I gave a gift card to one and he said rudely, “What is this for, and besides, I could not read your note as your writing is terrible!”
 
Well, let’s be thankful anyway!

- When you are invited to special occasions and meals, be sure to thank all involved.

- Have you taught your children to be thankful, including how to write thank you notes to their friends, teachers, for gifts and kindness given to them?

- Have you, yourself, learned to be thankful to others? To those at the bank, post office, store, leaving a good tip at restaurants?
 
- Whether we have little or much, we can be a kind and thankful people to the glory of God!

Monday, June 7, 2021

What is the Good News (the Gospel)?

It is this:

Although sin is great and universal and deadly (Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."; Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."), Jesus, the son of God, has come into the world to save sinners (Matthew 25:46, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”).

Christ died for our sins
(1 Corinthians 15:3b, “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”).

God made him to be sin who knew no sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”).

We are justified by his blood and reconciled to God
(Romans 5: 9-10, “… having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”).

There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.”).

The just died for the unjust, to bring us into fellowship with God (1 Peter 3: 18, “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all time, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”).

This Jesus, Lord of the universe, has been raised indestructibly from the dead and cannot die or be defeated (Romans 6:9, “Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.”); Hebrews 7:16, “Who has become a priest not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.”).

The way to be saved by him is not works of merit, but faith in the God who justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”; Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”; Ephesians 2: 8- 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”)


All verses are from the New American Standard Bible.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Questions to Ask a “Visiting” Missionary

When missionaries return from their fields of service (or a short-termer returns from months of ministry, or summer workers returning after weeks of summer ministry), sometimes the only questions people ask are, "Was it hot in the country?" and "What was the food like?" and nothing else. The conversation then switches to the recent ball game, the high price of gas, or the latest movies. This can be discouraging to a missionary or a short-term worker.

The following are suggestions of 34 simple questions to ask missionaries to share about their ministry so that you can learn more about what God is doing in other parts of the world:

1. What did you most enjoy about your work?

2. Tell us something about the people of your country.

3. What was the economic situation of the people you ministered to?

4. What most encouraged you in your ministry?

5. Were many people responsive to the gospel or just a few? Why?

6. Describe an experience you had on the mission field that impacted the way you do ministry.

7. How was your devotional Bible study time schedule on the field. Was it difficult to maintain?

8. What did you appreciate most about the culture you were living in?

9. Tell me about a special friendship you had with a person of the country. Who was your best friend?

10. What was security in the country like?

11. How were church services different or alike in your country of service?

12. Tell me about your church and worship in your country.

13. Were there times that you could specifically focus on children's needs? Tell something about them.

14. What are some specific prayer requests you have for your country and mission of service?

15. Tell me about raising your children in a different culture. Advantages? Diadvantages?

16. Were you able to purchase the books, supplies, and materials you needed for your ministry in that country? How?

17. What was the greatest spiritual need you noticed in your ministry? Physical need?

18. What was your biggest surprise about the country? The people? Yourself?

19. How did you adapt to being in a different culture?

20. What has been your most noticeable spiritual change since you began ministry as a missionary?

21. What is/was a typical day like for you? Your family?

22. Tell me about your local church.

23. Who provide your pastoral care? Your church or mission?

24. Please tell me of someone whose life was impacted with the gospel and the change you saw in his/her life.

25. Were you able to share the gospel and disciple people freely in your country of service?

26. What was really important to you in your time there that you want us to know?

27. Tell me about the missionaries you serve/served with. What are their ministries and how are they doing? Are they encouraged?

28. What are some ministry needs and opportunities that need filling on your team?

29. How is your support? Do you have any projects/ministries that need funding?

30. How can I help you while you are here?

31. What could the church/friends/others do to help encourage you?

32. What did you learn from the indigenous Christians…..especially in the area of faith, contentment, materialism?

33. What did God show you about being a servant?

34. How can I change my lifestyle to dedicate my life to the same values God has for the poor and disadvantaged in the developing world?

These questions will not only encourage the missionary, but also help inform you of God's work worldwide for His glory. Please feel free to make copies of these questions to distribute to your family, friends and church.

They went out for the sake of His name . . . therefore, we ought to help such men, that we may be fellow-workers with the truth (3 John 7-8). – Doug Nichols

Monday, March 15, 2021

Praying for Revival

It all began at a tea party. In 1856 in Ulster, Ireland, James McQuilkin was invited to tea. There a visiting woman skirted the civilities of discussing the weather and spoke openly on a subject McQuilkin found uncomfortable: the condition of the soul. After another guest at the tea party described the nature of her Christian experience, the visitor said, “My dear, I don’t believe you have ever known the Lord Jesus.” McQuilkin later wrote, “I knew that she spoke what was true of me . I felt as if the ground were about to open beneath me and let me sink into hell. As soon as I could, I left the company. For two weeks I had no peace day or night. At the end of that time I found peace by trusting the Lord Jesus.”

The following year McQuilkin felt burdened to pray for his neighbors. He asked three friends to join him. Once a week the four men gathered at the village schoolhouse to pray for each person in their community by name. The town was Ahogill, County Antrim, Ulster, Ireland. The date: September 1857.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, God was laying the same burden on many hearts, and similar prayer groups started throughout northern Ireland. Pastors began preaching about revival.

In December 1857 McQuilkin’s group rejoiced to see the first conversion in Ahogill. But widespread revival did not come. Still, God’s people prayed—for nineteen more months. Then one morning in the city of Ballymena, just six miles from Ahogill, a young man fell prostrate in the crowded marketplace and called out, “Unclean! Unclean! God be merciful to me a sinner!”

The night of March 14, 1859, the McQuilkin group responded by inviting Christians to a prayer meeting at the Ahogill Presbyterian Church. The church was so crowded that they moved the meeting out into the street. There hundreds of people knelt in the mud and rain, confessing their sins and praising God. They were the first of one hundred thousand people God called to himself in 1859 in what became known as the Ulster Revival.

There was a great spiritual movement among young people. It was not uncommon for teenage boys to hold street meetings to reach their peers for Christ. At one such street meeting an Irish clergyman counted forty children and eighty adults listening to the preaching of twelve-year-old boys.

The results of the revival were remarkable. In 1860 in County Antrim the police had an empty jail and no crimes to investigate. Judges often had no cases to hear. With their owners converted, pubs closed and alcohol consumption fell so drastically that whiskey distilleries were sold. Gambling at horse races fell off by 95 percent.

A visitor to Ulster reported “thronged church services, abundant prayer meetings, increased family prayers, unmatched Scripture reading, increased giving, converts remaining steadfast.” The Ulster movement touched off similar revivals in England, Scotland, and Wales.

God drew hundreds of thousands of people to himself, and it all began with a woman unafraid to speak spiritual truth over tea.

Source: The One-Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten, pages 148-149.


Friday, April 5, 2019

TGC’s Same-Sex Attracted Christian Apostasy Cover-Up

from Pulpit & Pen.org

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and 9Marks are fully engaged in a cover-up of Sam Allberry’s abominable doctrines. Stop and think. Livingout.org has been full of appalling teaching and counsel for years. The men behind TGC and 9Marks have been promoting Sam Allberry and livingout.org for years. They were not ignorant of the gross exchange of God’s truth for the same-sex attracted lie until recent weeks. They actively facilitated it, and all the evidence indicates they’ll continue to. Read more ...

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Is Homosexual Practice No Worse Than Any Other Sin?

by Robert A. J. Gagnon, PhD.

In my work on the Bible and homosexual practice I often encounter the argument that (1) no sin is any worse than any other sin; therefore (2) homosexual practice is no worse than any other sin.* Usually the comparison is then made with sins for which accommodations are often made by Christians (like gluttony or remarriage after divorce), rather than with sins for which no accommodation is made (like incest or murder), as a way of either shutting up Christian opposition to homosexual practice altogether or contending that self-affirming participants in homosexual practice will still “go to heaven.” Even many evangelicals who neither support homosexual practice nor extend a pass from God’s judgment to those who persist unrepentantly in it subscribe to these two views.

Sometimes these claims are buttressed by an analogy, such as when Alan Chambers, former head of Exodus International, declared at the opening night General Session of the 2012 Exodus International Conference: “Jesus didn’t hang on the cross a little longer for people who … have been involved with same-sex attraction or who have been gay or lesbian.” It comes across as a nice sound bite and can be helpful for those who think that homosexual practice is too bad to be forgiven by God. But it doesn’t establish the claim that there is no “hierarchy of sin.” The length of time that Jesus hung on the cross is irrelevant. It is the fact of Jesus’ death that counts for atonement. Nor is anyone arguing that Jesus’ death cannot cover big sins. It covers big and little sins for those who repent and believe in the gospel. 
Read more...

Monday, March 18, 2019

President Evangelical Financial Accountability Group Fined Falsely Claiming Unlicensed Use of CPA Title

by Julie Roys

As President of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), Dan Busby is responsible for enforcing ECFA’s standards of ethics among the 2,300 nonprofit groups and churches that the ECFA accredits. Busby also speaks nationally on financial accountability. And he’s written numerous books including, TRUST: The Firm Foundation of Kingdom Fruitfulness—a book equipping leaders of “Christ-centered ministries” to “be intentional about building and maintaining trust.”

Given that the ECFA and Busby’s platform rely on trust and integrity, one would expect Busby to be above reproach. Yet according to the Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA), Busby was fined $9,000 in 2016 for the unlicensed use of the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) title on at least 38 publications, his personal website, the ECFA’s website, and the Church Law & Tax website.

The VBOA also required Busby to pay an additional $1,000 administrative fee to cover the VBOA investigation. And the board ordered Busby to remove the CPA title from all “signage and any and all listings” until Busby again became licensed.

“Given that the ECFA and Busby’s platform rely on trust and integrity, one would expect Busby to be above reproach. Yet according to the Virginia Board of Accountancy, Busby was fined $9,000 in 2016 for the unlicensed use of the CPA title . . . “
According to the VBOA complaint, Busby falsely represented himself as a CPA on multiple books published by Zondervan between 2000-2015. These included “The Christian’s Guide to Worry-free Money Management,” and numerous editions of “The Zondervan Minister’s Tax & Financial Guide” and Zondervan’s “Church and Nonprofit Tax & Financial Guide.”

I contacted Zondervan for comment, but the publisher did not respond.

Busby also was listed as a CPA on numerous books published by the ECFA between 2000-2015. These included “Charitable Giving Guide for Missionaries and Other Workers,” “Donor-Restricted Gifts Simplified,” “The Independent Audit and the Audit Committee,” and multiple editions of “Preparing Tax Returns for Clergy” and “Reporting Procedures for Congregations.”

Busby was also listed as a CPA in ECFA newsletters between 2000-2015, as well as on multiple websites, the National Directory of Registered Tax Return Preparers and Professionals, and Busby’s LinkedIn account.

Brian Taylor, a former CPA who now works for a small consulting company in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, sent me the VBOA complaint, which he said he researched and submitted four years ago. Taylor noted that Busby had worked as a CPA for 31 years before coming to the ECFA, and said his misrepresentation was intentional and inexcusable.

“With Busby, it was a 15-year pattern of intentional fraudulent inducement to sell books and enrich his pocketbook and his reputation,” Taylor said. “This was no accident. . . . He knew he didn’t take any CPE classes for 15 years. You can’t do it for 31 years and then suddenly forget. CPAs are reminded annually.”

“This was no accident. . . . He knew he didn’t take any CPE classes for 15 years. You can’t do it for 31 years and then suddenly forget. CPAs are reminded annually.”

“Mr. Busby’s current role as President of ECFA is to enforce (ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship) among all member nonprofits, as the basis for the public trust in nonprofit fundraising and responsible stewardship of trust funds throughout America. And yet . . . Mr. Busby freely chose to commit intentional acts of wrongdoing over his entire 15-year tenure at ECFA, that repeatedly violated the ECFA Standards, the Code of Virginia, and the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) Code of Professional Conduct.”

Virginia law prohibits a person who does not hold a Virginia CPA license from using the CPA title in Virginia. Similarly, the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct states that a member discredits the profession if the person “makes claims about the member’s . . . qualifications in a manner that is false, misleading, or deceptive.” This would include “any representation about CPA licensure . . . that is not in compliance with the requirements of the relevant licensing authority.”

Recently, Busby and the ECFA have come under increased scrutiny for its longstanding accreditation of Harvest Bible Chapel, despite glaring financial improprieties there. Last Wednesday, I confronted the ECFA publicly for accrediting Harvest. And on Saturday, the ECFA finally suspended Harvest’s ECFA accreditation. But the Harvest debacle has raised questions concerning the ECFA’s effectiveness to hold member groups accountable.

In a statement released today, the ECFA defended its president. The statement said that Busby learned that he was not in compliance with Virginia’s accountancy laws in 2015 and has since rectified the problem. “While Dan’s use of the CPA designation complies with the laws of Kansas—where he was originally and still is certified—he had no idea that his use of the designation could possibly not be in compliance with Virginia law,” the statement said. “Dan, of course, was mortified to learn of any possibility that he was not in full compliance as he has made it his life’s work to help organizations pursue integrity.”

The statement added that Busby “has never held himself out as offering public accounting services as a Virginia CPA.” And it noted that Busby has since completed more than 180 hours of continuing professional education and settled the matter with the Virginia Board. “Dan is glad to have the matter resolved and he deeply regrets the oversight,” the statement said.

“Dan, of course, was mortified to learn of any possibility that he was not in full compliance as he has made it his life’s work to help organizations pursue integrity.”

Also, according to the AICPA, “any action initiated by a member that informs others of his or her status as a CPA . . . constitutes holding out as a CPA.” Not only did Busby use the CPA designation from 2000-2015 on his website, bio, and in his books, he also prepared the ECFA 990 tax returns and was listed as a CPA in online directories.

Taylor said he stands by his claim that Busby’s violation was intentional and not an “oversight.” In addition to the facts already cited, Taylor noted that Busby did not use the CPA title when he signed a letter in 2011 that was submitted to the IRS, nor in a 2013 report that was submitted to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. The “logical conclusion,” Taylor asserts, was that Busby “was afraid he might be found out and embarrassed, so he concealed the CPA where the risk was higher.”

According to the ECFA statement, the organization’s board was informed of the issues with the Virginia board “as it developed.” The statement adds that the board “continues to wholeheartedly support Dan in his role as ECFA president and in all his endeavors.”

Interestingly, Busby’s base salary at the ECFA in 2015 was $193,218, according to the ECFA 2015 990 tax form. However, in 2016, the year of the Virginia board sanction, it jumped 26-percent to $242,563. And in 2017, the last 990 available online, Busby’s base salary was $254,979.

One of the seven areas covered in ECFA’s seven standards is compensation setting for leaders of its member organizations. The other standards deal with use of resources and compliance with laws, doctrinal issues, governance, financial oversight, transparency, and stewardship of charitable gifts.