Monday, December 29, 2008

December 27, 2008 -- 40th Wedding Anniversary

On December 27, Margaret and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. God is good, we praise Him! On a radio interview two years ago regarding the ministry of ACTION, the interviewer asked how long I had been married. I told him 38 at the time and he said, “Oh, wonderful! 38 good years!” I said, “No, only 37.” Surprised, he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, in the first year I discovered what a selfish, inconsiderate person I was. Even though I was a Christian, I was not following the Word of God in caring for my wife as I should. I was very demanding (Margaret says she doesn’t remember any of this, but I sure do).”

Marriage is one main area of the Christian life in which we need to trust God to use us for His glory. To do this, we need to be godly people by loving and serving our wives and husbands. We need to do the same for our children, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, and coworkers. We serve them by being gracious, kind, considerate, compassionate, humble, longsuffering, gentle and forgiving. We need to put on a “heart of compassion and kindness” (Colossians 3:12). A question we all should ask of ourselves everyday is: Are we kind to others?

Recently Margaret found a letter that I had sent to her mom and dad (Walter and Helen Jespersen) on Sunday, April 2, 1967, the month we officially became engaged. When I went to India to serve for two years with Operation Mobilisation I put an engagement ring on “layaway” for only $5 (all the money I had). Over the year, I paid the ring off (a total of $120) from a special gift I received in a TB sanatorium while in India (people are always sorry for you when you are sick!). I was able to pay the ring paid off just before Margaret’s graduation from Bible School in Canada. I wrote Mom and Dad and asked them to pick up the ring and give it to Margaret after she received her diploma. It was interesting to read the following letter to Mom and Dad:
April 2, 1967

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jespersen,

Trust this letter finds you “safe and sound” at Prairie! The days have gone by so swiftly that it does not seem possible that Margaret will be graduating in just a few days.

Up to this time I have not heard from you nor my mother as to whether or not she sent the money in time for you to pick up Margaret’s ring as planned. I do hope (as well as pray) however, that everything was taken care of and that you now have the ring in hand…son to be on your lovely daughter’s finger!!!

Mr. Jespersen, I have written instructing Margaret to make her way to you as soon as possible after the program as you had something for her from me. You can then give her the ring…placing it on her finger for me. This is only temporary, as I will repeat it for myself in person some day…Glory!

I really appreciate all that you two have done to help me out in these matters. It seems strange to have to call on the bride’s parents to help a fella out; but I would rather call for help than do nothing for her at all.

Again I say…thank you for helping Margaret be the lady that she is…a beautiful young Christian lady after God’s own heart! I trust that our prayer together will always be:

Since our eyes were fixed on Jesus
We’ve lost sight of all beside;
So enchained our spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.

Sincerely in HIM,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas: Bah Humbug or Gloria in Excelsis?

by Jim Elliff of Christian Communicators Worldwide (CCW) []

We do Christmas slowly. That is, instead of tearing into presents for a ten minutes rush of adrenaline, we open them one by one and take all morning. We wrap everything, even stocking gifts. If something can be divided into two packages, we do it. Even gum is wrapped.

It happens like this. The question is asked, "Who gets to give the next gift?" Then that perfect gift is found, handed over, and opened as dramatically as possible. Exclamation follows and a huge hug and "Thaaaaaanks; that's just what I wanted!" In fact, we might play with the gift, or try it on, right there. We've seen a half an hour pass before another gift is opened.

You get it, we want it to take some time, to enjoy it, to savor it, not conquer it.

We talk about Christ's birth around the advent carousel the night before, sometimes following a candlelight service, and always accompanied by (imitation) eggnog (called "egg knocker" when the kids were young). That's very special to us.

Now this brings up an important point. Should we really do all of this? The Puritans did not think so, and they had some good reasons. For one thing, they found in the holidays a call to Rome and a high, formal Anglicanism that they felt was the deceiver of so many through the ages. They wanted nothing to do with religious traditions and ceremonies passed down by men. I may have stood right with them in their day, especially in England. After all, Christmas is really "Christ Mass." I understand their concern and applaud them for their courage.

Today Christmas is almost entirely secularized. It is a merchant's most profitable period as eager shoppers raid their shelves. Can we be any more comfortable with a secular Christmas than the religiously-loaded Christmas the Puritans detested?
Here are some reasons it is okay to celebrate Christmas, complete with gift-giving and "egg knocker":

First, the day itself is not really the day Christ was born. Nobody actually has the exact day down, but most believe it was not during this time of year at all. Probably it took place in the spring, not on a "cold winter's night that was so deep."

Second, diversity over the years has taken away much of the "Romish" flavor to the holiday. Our Catholic friends do as they wish on the night before and the day of Christmas, that is granted. But we do not have a state church. There are so many other ways Christmas is celebrated that no one really thinks about it the way the Puritans did so many years ago. The problem is not so acute because of so many years of varied expressions. At least this is true in our part of the world.

Third, God can be honored in gift-giving and generosity as well as in singing carols and telling the story. They're both important if done in the right spirit. We don't have to make something spiritual out of giving gifts. You may make a birthday cake to Jesus if you wish, but you don't have to. We do need to be Christian, however, about everything we do. Emphasizing the giving part of the day can heal lots of wounds, open calcified hearts, stir up gratefulness, and just be plain fun. God's not against fun is He?

Fourth, there may be better things to be different about. In other words, we might show our radical difference better in the way we treat other shoppers, the kindness we show to retail clerks, the warmth of our hearts, the largeness of our generosity, the thankfulness we express and really feel.

Fifth, there are admittedly some great opportunities to make Christ known during Christmas. With all that is bad about it, we can still make our point. And we will have some sympathy for our message. For years I've led Christmas Eve services, short ones of only 45 minutes, but packed with meaning. The building will be full and all kinds of our friends and family will hear the truth as clearly as we are willing to express it.

What really does bother us is the mixture of the secular with a superficial acknowledgment of Christ's coming. This is why I separate what I do at Christmas. I find the evening with the family and the church the best way to think on this marvelous incarnation of Christ, without which we have no salvation. It is the most important thinking we can do during this season. But since there is no sin in giving and receiving, we can enjoy that also.

As for superficiality in acknowledging Christ, much harm is done. But that harm is for those who pretend a worship of Christ when they have no heart to follow Him. That's not where I am. For me and my house, we desire to follow Christ. And as sincerely as we know how, we intend to celebrate Christ's coming to "save His people from their sins."

What happens on Christmas day happens in church buildings all across our country every Sunday morning. Most of worship is pretended in the country's churches, and many show up who care very little about anything but doing a religious duty or being seen by others. But please don't stop me from worshipping on that day.

As for us, a world of superficiality cannot stop us from worshipping Christ for His coming to earth if we really want to do it. Gloria in Excelsis!

Copyright © 2002 Jim Elliff
Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc.

Ugly Baby

I had settled down for a four-hour flight on a large plane hoping to catch up on some reading. As the plane began to taxi down the runway, one of the flight attendants made her way down the aisle for her last check of the passengers. She suddenly noticed a lady with two babies, one without an adequate seat belt. The plane was gathering speed so she quickly took the smallest baby from the mother and looked around for one of the passengers to hold him during takeoff. The other passengers looked away, but I wasn’t quick enough! Catching my eye, the stewardess thanked me as she handed me the ugliest baby I had ever seen (excuse me for saying this). The baby was asleep, but did it ever make noise! I began to read through the baby noises and 15 minutes went by, 20 minutes went by, and then 30. I finally got up and went looking for the mother. Finding her five rows up, I asked, “Is this baby yours?” She looked up surprised and said, “Oh, I forgot all about him!” I have thought about this incident often. Yes, we may be small in the world’s eyes and so ugly our own mothers forget us, but God’s arms are always stretched out to hold us, and He will never drop or leave or ever forget us!

by Doug Nichols

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why do Christian musicians have to be mad, sad, and sloppy?

In my ministry, I receive many Christian publications, magazines, newspapers, books, and newsletters. It is interesting to note that when a conference is advertised and there are pictures of speakers, they are usually well-dressed in a sweater, suit, or neat shirt and the women and men are at least smiling and show some aspect of joy in Christ.

Pictures of musicians in the same conference advertisement, however, show disheveled hair, sloppy clothes, and with no smile or a mad expression. It portrays anger and rebellion and their music usually depicts this.

The message of Christ through music is supposed to be like the message of the Gospel – gracious, kind, considerate, joyful, full of praise and honor to God.

Instead sloppy musicians usually sing moaning and groaning rhythms and melodies like the unhappiness shown on their faces.

The Apostle Peter gives a challenge, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10, nasb).

Much of our Christian music today seems to be on the dark side, not showing the marvelous light of the Lord Jesus and the Gospel and compassionate care that comes from Christ.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Are We Too Ashamed to Beg?

We trust God for finances, but would we do whatever we could to feed our family – even begging? If we would work our fingers to the bone, work extra jobs, and even beg to care for our little ones, would we do the same for others?

Richard Baxter wrote, ...let not want or charity hinder you at any time from giving,though want of ability may hinder you, and prudence may restrain you,and must guide you. If you say, “Alas! We don’t have it to give.” I answer: (1) Do what you can. (2)Show by your compassion that you would, if you could, take care of your poor
brethren. (3) Beg of others on their behalf, and encourage those that can do it.

Are we too ashamed to beg?*

As we pray for food and the Gospel for needy children, what are we doing to put action to our prayers? There are 160 million children living on the streets of the world and 143 millions orphans who have no one to care for them. Of these orphans, 13 million are AIDS orphans in Africa. What are they eating? When we put our children to bed tonight, where will they sleep?

Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans . . . in their troubles . . . (James 1:27 NLT).

Will we beg God and others on behalf of the needy today?

*[Quote from Richard Baxter in Puritan Sermons (Volume 2)]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One Man's Wisdom and Generosity

On one occasion in the Philippines, Franklin Graham visited our ministry for several days. He is the son of Billy Graham and the President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.

While taking him to the airport after his very successful visit, he said “You know Doug, I have been all over the world and visited many countries and have ridden in every kind of vehicle imaginable, however, I must say, this car of yours is the worst vehicle I have ever been in! Where did you get this thing?” We laughed together as I told him of occasions when the steering wheel came off, the gear shift slipped out, tires fell off, and other horror stories.

As I was getting Mr. Graham’s bags out of the car at the airport, he said, “Doug, joking aside, I would like to mention something; I feel you are working your people too hard.” At that time, we had about 160 dedicated Filipino team members working alongside 30 ACTION missionaries. I responded, “Yes, they do work hard and are a very dedicated group.”

He then asked, “When was the last time you took your team on a break?” I answered, “A what?” He replied, “A break, a retreat, a time of fellowship and refreshment.” I answered, “We have never had one of those.” He then reached into his pocket and pulled out 20 - 100 dollar bills ($2000). (The purchasing power of that gift was five to seven times more than it is now.).

As he handed me the $2000 he said, “Take your team for a break as a gift from Samaritan’s Purse,” and we did. We took the whole team, including their families, for a three-day retreat. We had a wonderful time studying the Word of God, enjoying fellowship, praying, resting, and playing, to the glory of God!

Monday, December 15, 2008


On a Saturday evening, our kids were over for our traditional weekend meal of hamburgers. Afterwards, we spent time singing several hymns: Praise the Saviour, Ye Who Know Him; Jesus, the Name Over All; In the Heart of Jesus; Precious Blood of Jesus; Man of Sorrows, What a Name!

Dad Jespersen sang a favorite of his senior co-worker in China in the late 1930s:

“Praise, praise Ye the Name of
Jehovah, our God;
Declare, oh declare His glories abroad;
Proclaim ye His mercy, from nation to nation,
Till the uttermost islands have heard His salvation.”

"For His love floweth on
Free and full as a River
And His mercy endureth forever."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Masaya ang Pasko dahil kay Cristo

Luke 2:10-11

Christmas is joyful because of Christ

We’re busy preparing for our fast approaching evangelistic Christmas party ministry which will be centered round the above theme. Recently we had a conference room full of pastors, church and agency workers eagerly planning and praying for our parties for street and squatter children along with their families, dump dwellers, prisoners, prison guards and rural poor from the sea-side to the mountains. The majority of the parties will run from December 1-15 with a few running into mid-January if we have the funds. Our budget is $13,000 so if you’d like to give to this joyful ministry, so those who may not otherwise have an opportunity to turn from sin and trust Christ as Savior, send your gift to the ACTION office near you.

from Mary Ann Anderson, ACTION Philippines missionary

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Little Lady and African Violets

A little lady in New York State trusted Christ at the age of 99. She lived in a state home and was very poor. She wanted to serve the Lord by giving to missions worldwide, but what could she do? She asked the Lord to help her do something. Even though her living space was very small, she began growing and selling African Violets and using her “widow’s mite” for God’s work. Before she died she sent $400 to missions to help spread the Gospel. (This happened about 40 years ago. The story is from Rev. Bob & Isabel Wheatley of Westminster Chapel.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Feeding the World

It is interesting to note that the world’s population could live in the State of Texas with the population density of an average-size city. There is enough food being produced throughout the world to feed 7 times the present population on a large diet (30 times on an average Japanese diet). This food can be produced on half of the land surface with the other half for natural resources and recreation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Older Missionaries

Please pray  for more long-term “older” missionaries in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Someone pointed out that the Earl of Helsburg was 90 when he began preparing his 20-volume revision of English law. Galileo made his greatest discovery at age 73. Hudson Taylor was laboring vigorously on the mission field at age 69. J. Oswald Sanders ministered effectively into his later 80s; and at age 85, Caleb wanted a mountain so that he could drive out a stronghold of giants. Yes, we want young people; but also many “older folks” as well!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters

Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again [it will return to you] (Ecclesiastes 11:1, nasb).

There is a daycare center in front of our house. One day, an Asian lady mistakenly locked her baby boy in the car. Several people were trying to help. Margaret phoned me and I came to see if I could assist. The temperature outside was not hot, so there was no danger of the little boy suffocating or suffering heat stroke.

We called the police in three different towns and none of them would come because they felt the address was not in their jurisdiction.

Finally, a policeman came and he called a locksmith who had the doors open in just a few minutes.

The lady had no wallet or money with her, so Margaret paid the $75 charge. When I got home later (I had left when the police had come), I said, “What! $75! Margaret, we cannot afford that.” She simply answered, “What else could we do? She had no money and somebody had to pay!” That is Margaret – always generous and seeking to meet needs to the glory of God.

This all happened about two months ago. This week we came home and there was a package left at our door addressed to Margaret. Inside was an expensive gift for Margaret plus a $75 gift certificate!

So dear friend, when you are faced with an opportunity to minister to someone to the glory of God, do it - whether you think you will be repaid or not. When you cast your bread upon the waters, it will come back to you, either in kind or simply being blessed by God.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Saying Hello

At a dinner recently, someone mentioned a study on the effect of simply greeting people by saying “Hello.”

I need to work at being more outgoing, so today I decided to purposely greet everyone I came in contact with. At a store I saw a feeble, elderly man shuffling down the aisle with a walker. As we approach one another, I said, “Hello, how are you?” He stopped seemingly in shock. I continued, “Is there anything I can help you with? You seem to have difficulty walking.”

In a British accent he told me of his ailments. I asked him if he was from England and he said yes. I told him I go to the UK from time to time because of our ministry and as I pass through on the way to Africa. He said, “Oh, Africa. I lived in Africa for 40 years.”

“What did you do?” I asked. “I was a missionary,” he responded.

“With what mission?” I asked. He answered, “I don’t know if you have heard of it, but the name is WEC --Worldwide Evangelization Crusade.”

I was glad to tell him that I knew WEC very well and it was one of the thirty missions to which I applied in the 1960’s. He then introduced me to his wife who was also not well. They were excited to meet another missionary.
Sadly I discovered they were on Food Stamps! “Food Stamps, “I exclaimed, “you must not have much money.” They replied, “Well, the Lord is providing and we praise Him for it.”

We arranged to get together soon and I hope to assist them in some way. When I left the store, I was greatly encouraged in meeting new friends who need help and encouragement, all because of saying “hello.”

Let me encourage you with the following, The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged (2 Timothy 2:24,nasb).

So, dear friend, greet someone today, in fact, everyone! Say “Hello, how are you?” You might not meet someone from Africa, but you may meet someone with needs a loving touch from a Christian.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

China's Little Woman

“The little woman,” Gladys Aylward (1902-1970), was a British missionary in China. On one occasion, she experienced a harrowing journey out of the war-torn Yangcheng province with more than one hundred orphan children during which she grappled with despair. After passing a sleepless night, she faced the morning with no hope of reaching safety. A thirteen-year-old girl in the group reminded her of their much loved story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. “But I am not Moses,” Gladys cried in desperation. “Of course you are not,” the girl said, “but Jehovah is still God!”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Polycarp (c 69-155 A.D.) was a leader of the early church in Smyrna. "When commanded to [curse the name of Jesus Christ and] worship Caesar: 'Eighty-six years I have served Him [Christ] and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King, who saved me?' To the end Polycarp...disdained to defend himself before the mob. He was threatened with the wild beasts and then with fire, but he did not flinch. Once again his statement was memorable, as well as moving: 'You threaten me with the fire that burns for an hour and in a little while is put out, for you do not know about the fire of the judgement to come, and the fire of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly. But why are you waiting? Bring what you will.' And so they did. He was burned alive. The issues were clear to Polycarp and [other] Christians: 'It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out' (Mark 9:43). Immediately after Polycarp's martyrdom, the local church wrote a letter describing the events, so eager were they for a neighbouring church to know of their leader's joyful and glorious end. To them and to the [non-Christians] around them such faithfulness was the best possible testimony to the truth of the gospel." (The Footsteps of God by John Legg, Evangelical Press)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Six Small Christmas Projects of Less Than $6 for the Needy

ACTION is primarily a missionary-sending agency, but since much of our work in evangelism, discipleship and development is with the extremely poor and needy (especially with street and underprivileged children), funds are always needed.

The missionaries and ministries of ACTION are supported by God’s people, many of whom cannot give large amounts, but faithfully give and pray monthly.

The following is a list of six small projects for evangelism and compassionate care:

1. A small meal of a boiled egg, milk and bread can be served to a street child in the Philippines for only 48¢! Ten meals cost $4.80.

2. A child can be clothed in Malawi, Uganda, or Zambia for just a dollar; three children, $3.

3. An African-language, plastic-covered New Testament can be purchased for only $1.50.

4. You can provide a Christmas meal, party, and relief item or gift for a needy child in Africa, Asia or Latin America for only $3.50.

5. An orphan can be sent to a two-day Bible camp to hear the Gospel and receive compassionate care in Africa for only $6.

6. A set of theology books valued at $35 for needy pastors in India, the Philippines or Cuba for only $5.

These small amounts will help feed, clothe, and provide the Gospel to children and offer encouraging help to needy pastors.

As the Lord leads, please consider one or two of these small projects to the glory of God! Thank you for your teamwork in the Gospel!

Monday, December 1, 2008

It is worth doing badly!

Stuart Briscoe is on the International Council of Reference and a great friend of ACTION, and he and his wife, Jill, also serve as Advocates for Street Children. Mr. Briscoe once said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” By this he meant there are many things that need to be done in the church (and missions) that are not being done (by many of us) because we know we would not do a very good job; we know others could do it better. So what happens? The task remains undone! God’s “simple” people need to step forward “in faith” and get the job done, even if it is done badly...but to do it for God’s glory. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heaven's Entrance Exam

from Norfolk, Nebraska, Rescue Mission

A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter says, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in."

"Okay," the man says. "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, not even in my heart."

"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!"

"Three points?" he says. "Well, I attended church all my life and support its ministry with my tithe and service."

"Terrific!" says St. Peter. "That's certainly worth a point."

"One point?" "I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans."

"Fantastic, that's good for two more points," St. Peter says.

"Two points!" the man cries. "At this rate, THE ONLY WAY I GET INTO HEAVEN IS BY THE GRACE OF GOD."

"That's it! 100 points!" responded Peter. "COME ON IN!"

War is a scourge, but so is slavery ...

Colonel Joshua Chamberlain was a Christian who fought for the Union forces in the Civil War, on one occasion he was talking to his younger brother Tom, who was serving with him, about why it was right to fight against the South to free the slaves, "All these thousands of men, many of them not much more than boys, a mother's son, some sister's brother, someone's father, each one of them a whole person, cherished and gone away, many of them will never return. An army is power, it's entire purpose is to coerce. Misguided power cannot be used too callously or recklessly. Misguided power can do great harm. We have seen more suffering than any man should ever see and if there is going to be an end to it, it must be an end that justifies the cause. Now, somewhere out there is the Confederate Army. They claim they are fighting for their independence or their freedom. Now, I cannot question their integrity. I believe they are wrong, but I cannot question it. But I do question the system that defends its own freedom while it denies it to others, to an entire race of men! I will admit the entire war is a scourge, but so is slavery. It has been around since the book of Genesis. It exists in every corner of the world, but that is no excuse to tolerate it here when we find it right before our very eyes in our own home country. As God is my witness there is no one I hold dearer in my heart than you Tom. But if your life or mine is part of the price to pay to end this curse and free the Negro, then let God's will be done."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dr. William Ho

Dr. Ho was a doctor in south Seattle for years. He began to share the gospel with patients (patients with no clothes on, he had a captive audience; they were not going anywhere). In three months, Dr. Ho led 84 to Christ. He then gave up his practice, sold his house, gave inheritance to his children and gave his life to share the gospel. He pastured a church in Vancouver, BC. He prayed daily for the 1400 people he led to Christ in 3 years!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seeing Beyond the Horizon

A missionary couple from Europe with three children were working in Bible translation ministry in Irian Jaya. Two of the children were studying in Europe and the third, their twelve-year-old daughter, was living with them. Their young girl became sick and died. As the father was burying his little daughter, an elder of the tribe said “Now I suppose you will be leaving for your home in Europe to comfort your other children?” “No,” the missionary said, “God can and does take care of them.” The tribe leader said, “I don’t understand you missionaries, it seems as if you can see beyond the horizon.” The missionary then realized that he now had the translation of the word hope. Hope is being able to see beyond the horizon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Airline Adventures with a Smile!

When, I was on a flight from Miami to Seattle via Houston. The last one to board the flight was a woman who rushed aboard and sat next to me, still breathing hard from rushing to catch the plane. She was dressed and looked like a rock star. She had so many tattoos I did not know what ethnic background she had. She had so many rings, watches, bracelets, jewelry and piercings of her nose, lips and cheeks that the plane leaned to one side. When the plane took off she became very ill and passed out, so as I tried to help her, I called for the flight attendants and two came to help. Upon seeing the woman, we said, "Oh, her again."  The others said, she was probably having a drug seizure. I said, “What do we do?” One attendant said, “I know, let’s do something unique, let’s throw her off plane!” I asked, “Can we do that?’ and the other said, “Well we can certainly try!” A doctor on the flight then came up and asked if he could help. Later I asked him how he knew we needed help. He looked at me and smiled saying, “Well, it was quite obvious you didn’t know what you were doing!”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quotes from David Livingstone

"Cannot the love of Christ carry the missionary where the slave trade carries the trader?"

"For a long time I felt much depressed after preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ to apparently insensible hearts; but now I like to dwell on the love of the great Mediator, for it always warms my own heart, and I know that the gospel is the power of God—the great means which He employs for the regeneration of our ruined world."

"Shall I tell you what sustained me amidst the toil, the hardship, and loneliness of my exiled life? It was the promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end."

"Future missionaries will be rewarded by conversions for every sermon…Let them not forget…us, who worked when all was gloom, and no evidence of success in the way of conversion cheered our paths."

"Where the geographical feat ends, there the missionary work begins."

David Livingstone buried his wife in Africa -- planted a few wild flowers on her grave, watered them with his tears, and walked away from that grave, the most lonesome man in all the world, but with these words ringing in his heart:

He leadeth me, O blessed thought:
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate'er I do, wher'er I be,
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me. 
 (Missionary Crusader, August 1967)

"I am trying now to establish the Lord's Kingdom in a region wider by far than Scotland. Fever seems to forbid, but I shall work for the glory of Christ's Kingdom -- fever or no fever." (David Livingstone in a letter to his father, 1853)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays, and Pastor Siodora

One time on a flight I saw a short video on the life of Reggie Jackson, the baseball celebrity who retired at the peak of his career with the Oakland Athletics in 1987. 

A few years ago, Margaret and I met him briefly. As I shook his hand, I mentioned that the only other famous baseball player I had ever shaken hands with was the great Willie Mays. Reggie immediately grabbed my hand again as Willie Mays was his hero! 

Meeting the famous Reggie Jackson and Willie Mays however, is nothing in comparison to other people we have met...such as Pastor Evangelista Siodora, the little man barely five feet tall with a big heart who died in his 70s. He pioneered the Philippine Missionary Fellowship, and for 40 years took the gospel to small villages and tribes throughout the country. 

Once when asked to visit the United States to speak in meetings, he applied for a visa at the US embassy in Manila. They rudely asked him why he wanted to go to the USA. He politely replied, “I don’t want to go the USA; it is God who wants me to go to the USA! Who would want to go to the States? I am only going because God wants me to go!” (He got his visa!) 

On one occasion in Manila about 1974, Pastor Siodora knew I was very discouraged. At a meeting for pastors and leaders, he called me aside, sat me down, took my hands in his and for 20 minutes (with his face only a few inches from mine) preached and shared from the Word of God the encouragement we have in Christ! He helped get my focus back on the Sovereign Lord. 

Yes, I have shaken the hands of Reggie Jackson and Willie Mays, but so what? God touched me and so many others through the life of a humble, zealous, godly Filipino, the truly great Evangelista Siodora.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bad Times Are Good for Missions

by Dr. John Piper

I believe the Lord brought this word to mind in one of our prayer meetings on Friday:

The worst of all times is the best of all times for missions.

We were praying over Lamentations 3. Those were the worst of times for Israel. But in that moment they were given the best of promises,The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (3:22-23)

Today marks the close of Missions Focus at Bethlehem. So we were praying for missions. That is when this word came: The worst of all times is the best of all times for missions.

Such words do not have intrinsic authority the way Scripture does. They must be tested. Here is the truth I hear in those words.

1. During an economic downturn we are more dependent on God. That is the most fertile soil for creating missionaries.

2. During an economic downturn unreached people around the world do not expect you to come, but to look out for yourself. So they may more likely see your risk as love rather than exploitation.

3. During an economic downturn those who need Christ around the world may be less secure in earthly things and more ready to hear about eternal life.

4. During an economic downturn people at home may be wakened to the brevity of life and the fragility of material things, and so may become more generous not less. And when they give under these circumstances, it will make Christ look all the more like the all-satisfying Treasure that he is.

And so it may well prove to be that the worst of all times is the best of all times for missions.

October 26, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Call from the Cops, Encouragement, and Heart for Obama

Margaret and I were driving too fast on the way to a special dinner (with 80 others) with the Seattle mayor. I was pulled over by the police. I admitted I was speeding and apologized. The officer politely warned me and let me go without a ticket. I later wrote the chief of police to say how polite the officer was even though I was in the wrong. I also said how much we appreciated the police and others in civil government who served us all and assured him of our prayer. The next day we received a call from the chief who thanked us profusely saying, “We never get letters of encouragement like this! Thank you so much!”

Shortly after the USA President election, I wrote President-elect Obama to assure him of our prayer and to encourage him as he moves forward in leadership serving the people of America and the world.

Even if you did not vote for him (or did), I would encourage you to write him a short letter:

President-elect Barack Obama
Washington D.C. Office
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Recently, the young 25-year old office manager of the large clinic where we are patients said that even though she didn’t vote for him, she was starting a “heart for Obama” prayer group!

A good verse to remember in this regard is Proverbs 21:1 (nasb), The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Missed Flight

A few years ago I was packed tightly on a commuter plane in Canada. I was frustrated in missing my flight that morning to speak at a conference, knowing that I would arrive at 9 PM that evening instead of 4 PM, and had to spend an extra $300! In losing money, it seems we automatically think of the things we could have used the funds for ($300 would enable 15 street children in Manila to attend camp for one week or could have purchased needed tires for the car) and then we really feel bad!

However, in thinking back on why I missed the flight, it was well worth $300. In losing track of time, I was able to dictate several letters to encourage and assist team members overseas; pray with the USA office team (for our missionary members around the world); meet with two missionary leaders in preparation for a training conference; talk to my sick daughter; and encourage my son in a difficult decision.

Come to think of it, I didn’t lose $ was money well spent. And you know what? I’m not going to get new tires for the car , but I am going to write a check to send those 15 street children to camp. So now, it’s not $300 lost, but $600 used for the glory of God!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Quotes from the strong heart of C. T. Studd, missionary to Africa (1860 – 1931)

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."

"Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands."

"Last June at the mouth of the Congo there awaited a thousand prospectors, traders, merchants and gold seekers, waiting to rush into these regions as soon as the government opened the door to them, for rumor declared that there is an abundance of gold. If such men hear so loudly the call of gold and obey it, can it be that the ears of Christ's soldiers are deaf to the call of God? Are gamblers for gold so many, and gamblers for God so few?"

"If you don't desire to meet the Devil during the day, meet Jesus before dawn. If you don't want the Devil to hit you, hit him first, and hit him with all your might, so that he may be too crippled to hit back. 'Preach the Word' is the rod the Devil fears and hates.

If you don't want to fall - walk, and walk straight and walk fast!"

"Too long have we been waiting for one another to begin! The time of waiting is past! The hour of God has struck! War is declared! In God's Holy Name let us arise and build! 'The God of Heaven, He will fight for us', as we for Him. We will not build on the sand, but on the bedrock of the sayings of Christ, and the gates and minions of hell shall not prevail against us. Should such men as we fear? Before the world, aye, before the sleepy, lukewarm, faithless, namby-pamby Christian world, we will dare to trust our God, we will venture our all for Him, we will live and we will die for Him, and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts."

"Don't go into the study to prepare a sermon -- that's nonsense. Go into your study to God and get so fiery that your tongue is like a burning coal and you have got to speak."

"The "romance" of a missionary is often made up of monotony and drudgery; there often is no glamour in it; it doesn't stir a man's spirit or blood. So don't come out to be a missionary as an experiment, it is useless and dangerous. Only come if you feel you would rather die than not come. Lord Wolsey was right: "A missionary ought to be a fanatic or he encumbers the ground." There are many trials and hardships. Disappointments are numerous and the time of learning the language is especially trying. Don't come if you want to make a great name or want to live long. Come if you feel there is no greater honor, after living for Christ, than to die for Him. That does the trick in the end. It's not the flash in the pan but the steady giving forth of light, it's shining on and on that we need out here. Our job is to make all hear the Word. God's job is to give penetration to His Word."

"Some wish to live within the sound of Church and bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."

"Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven, without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in hell, when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle."

Quotes from the strong heart of C. T. Studd, missionary to Africa
Gary Rieben

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Your Goose is Cooked!

Recently I spoke on Reformation Day at a Christian School in Seattle and used the following illustration of John Hus “the Goose.”

In 1414, Hus was summoned by the Archbishop of Prague to stand before a official hearing on his doctrines--the Roman Catholic church believing Hus was a heretic and yearned that his preaching be stopped. Since Hus refused this charge, and continued to preach the Gospel, the Roman Catholic church summoned him, under pretense of "safety", to appear and present his case before the Catholic tribunal. Instead of allowing him a fair trial, they arrested Hus and imprisoned him; Hus' case was never really heard. He did stand “trial” and was convicted of being a heretic. He was burned at the stake by the Catholic church on July 6, 1415. Hus sang hymns while he died.

You may have heard the phrase, "your goose is cooked". This was first coined from the martyrdom of this reformer. Hus' name in German sounded like "goose". Thus, as he was burned, they coined the term "Hus is cooked (or, “your goose is cooked)" in German. Yet, Hus said to the Archbishop during his trial, that though he--the goose--be burned at the stake, another will come--a swan--to teach and preach the doctrines of the Bible; to finish the work of reformation which had begun. This swan would be no other than Martin Luther in the early 1500’s.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Taxes and Coffee -- Do They Go Together!

Coffee Shop Economics - only for those who drink coffee!

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for coffee and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

The ten men drank in the shop every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers, he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily coffee by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his coffee. So, the shop owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20', declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!'

'Yeah, that's right', exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!''That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had coffee without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls , journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

P.S. For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Witnessing in a TB Sanitarium

While serving with Operation Mobilization in India in 1967, tuberculosis forced me into a sanitarium for several months. I did not yet speak the language, but tried to give Christian literature written in local language to the patients, doctors and nurses. Everyone refused!

I sensed many weren't happy about a rich American (to them all Americans are rich) being in a free, government-run sanitarium. (They didn't know I was just as broke as they were!)

The first few nights I woke around 2:00 a.m. coughing. One morning during my TB coughing spell, I noticed one of the older and sicker patients across the aisle trying to get out of bed. He would sit up on the edge of the bed and try to stand, but in weakness would fall back into bed. I didn't understand what he was trying to do. He finally fell back into bed, exhausted. I heard him crying softly.

The next morning I realized that the man had been trying to get up and walk to the bathroom! The stench in the ward was awful.

Other patients yelled insults at the man. Angry nurses moved him roughly from side to side as they cleaned up the mess. One nurse even slapped him. The old man curled into a ball and wept.

The next night I again woke up coughing. I noticed the man across the aisle sit up and again try to stand. Like the night before, he fell back whimpering. I don't like bad smells, and I didn't want to become involved, but I got out of bed and went over to him. When I touched his shoulder, his eyes opened wide with fear. I smiled, put my arms under him, and picked him up.

He was very light, due to old age and advanced TB. I carried him to the washroom, which was just a small filthy room with a hole in the floor. I stood behind him with my arms under his armpits as he took care of himself. After he finished, I picked him up and carried him back to his bed. As I laid him down, he kissed me on the cheek, smiled, and said something I couldn't understand.

The next morning another patient woke me and handed me a steaming cup of tea. He motioned with his hands that he wanted a tract.

As the sun rose, other patients approached and indicated they also wanted the booklets I had tried to distribute before. Throughout the day nurses, interns and doctors also asked for literature.

Weeks later an evangelist who spoke the language visited me, and as he talked to others in the sanitarium he discovered that several had put their trust in Christ as Savior as a result of reading the literature!

What did it take to reach these people with the Gospel? It wasn't health, the ability to speak their language, or a persuasive talk. I simply took a trip to the bathroom.

Anyone could have done that!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Witnessing in Manila Garbage Dump (Philippines)

I think it was about 1980 that Aries, a Filipino co-worker, and I were standing at the top edge of the Manila Garbage Dump, better known as "Smoky Mountain". Below us lay the village which was home to the 15,000 people who eked out an existence at the dump.

It was early morning, around 5:45, and the sun was just coming up over Manila Bay. Aries and I had met there to pray. We were asking God to assist us and the other team members in effectively reaching these extremely poor people with the Good News of salvation in Christ.

As we prayed, an old man approached us. He had begun his day's work, scavenging at the dump. He was gathering aluminum cans but was too weak to carry many at the same time. When he asked if we would guard the cans he had already gathered while he looked for more, we gladly said yes. We continued to pray as he gathered cans.

The old man came and went with his tin cans as Aries and I discussed evangelism, discipleship and prayed. At the end of our time of prayer, the old man approached with another load of cans. Since it was now daylight I could see that he was really quite elderly.

It is respectful in parts of Asia and especially in the Philippines to ask older people their age. I greeted the man, commented on the fact that it was really something that he was up so early to work, and politely asked his age.

With a big smile, he said, "Oh, it's wonderful that you asked. Today is my birthday! I am 78 years old."

Aries and I gave him our congratulations and then broke out singing "Happy Birthday!" As we finished, we shook his hand and gave him a hug. He thanked us very much for being so kind to him on his birthday.

We then easily asked him if he was prepared to go to heaven. He didn't know what we spoke of or how to do this. We proceeded to share the Good News of salvation in Christ. After several minutes, this can-gathering, old man, this garbage dump resident, turned from his sins and in joy trusted Jesus Christ as Savior!

What a place to receive Christ-on the top of the Manila garbage dump!

The old man then invited us to his little shack to meet his family. At his home we met his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. During the next several weeks several in his family also trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. I guess you could call this event "from the dump to glory!"

All this came about as a result of a simple prayer meeting on the top of a dump and in the process guarding a few dirty cans for an old man.

Anybody could have done the same.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Poor, Abortion, and War

Should a missionary speak regarding issues that seem political? Jesus and Paul taught involvement in all of life to the glory of God. My hero, Pastor Charles Spurgeon in London, was very political on things righteous!

Years ago, I became very interested in Africa and later African-American history, slavery, and civil rights issues. Through my study it was interesting to discover that the main party of the slave states was the Democratic party. It is the same party today which is pro-gay, socialist in leanings, pro-abortion, promotes higher taxes (which causes much unemployment and poverty), and big government which still keeps people in slavery in life and dependence. There is no real love and concern for truly helping the poor, but only keeping them in poverty and throwing money at them during elections!

For example, it is interesting that the Democratic presidential nominee was a community organizer in Chicago and is a senator for the same poor area of Chicago. This area is still extremely poor, unemployable and violent, yet he and his friends have become rich!

The Democratic party is aggressively pro-abortion! This is my main concern as a missionary of the Gospel and compassionate care to needy children!

1.2 million children are estimated to be aborted annually in the USA. Since 1973, 48.5 million Americans have been aborted (the holocaust of Nazi Germany was 6 million). If we expand the view worldwide, we, as human beings, are killing 42 million humans PER YEAR. That trumps capital punishment, disease, death from malnutrition or poverty, and all wars.

Abortion has decimated blacks in America to the point where in states like New York, 9 out of 10 black pregnancies end in abortion. These statistics are not part of a conspiracy group but come from the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood (

I do not like the war in Iraq, but in compassion, if 17 are dying daily in Iraq with 3288 children aborted daily, what is the comparison? One death is tragic, but so are thousands! By the way, there were more violent deaths (123 people died from gunshot wounds) over the summer in Chicago, nearly twice the US combat death toll in Iraq over the same period (Chicago CBS TV station, World Magazine, October 18/25, 2008, p. 71). Is this not Obama’s city?

The other party (Republican) had the opportunity while it had the majority in Congress to correct many wrongs, but it seemed to instead want to win a popularity contest instead of leading and serving the country. So, the other party came into power and now we have the economic crisis caused by the Democratic party which now wants to even do away will all guidelines for shameful abortion!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Small Missions and Accountability

There are about 440 Protestant mission organizations in Canada and the USA where missionaries serve a minimum of four years. About one-fourth (121) of these missions have one to five missionaries! About 300 of the missions have 50 missionaries or fewer. Praise God for these small missions which have not let size keep them from moving forward in faith with evangelism, discipleship, and development to the masses of the world to the glory of God!

ACTION is a relatively mid-size mission of 250 members serving in 25 countries. Of the 440 international sending missions, there are 32 larger than ACTION (two at 251 to 300 missionaries, eight at 301 to 400 missionaries, eight at 401 to 600, eight at 601 to 1000, four at 1001 to 2000, none at 2001 to 3000, and two at 3000 to 4000).

The Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) was formed for organizations (not missions) in the USA. Instead of membership in ECFA, many missions are members of Cross Global Link (formerly Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association) or The Mission Exchange (formerly Evangelical Foreign Mission Association). ACTION follows the same financial guidelines as these mission networks and is also a member of the Christian Leadership Alliance, the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC), the Evangelical Alliance (UK), and the World Evangelical Association (WEA).

Most missions have not joined ECFA for several reasons: 1) it is not needed as most missions already follow ECFA guidelines, 2) all missions already have a reputable board of directors, 3) it is expensive and thus diverts funds from ministries to ECFA fees, when the donors have given for specific purposes, and 4) it is the responsibility of the board of directors to oversee the mission. Being a member of ECFA does not guarantee financial accountability; that is the role of the board.

Under the laws of the USA and Canada, each mission has a governing board of directors which enforces guidelines of operation and use of funds as required.

Some have asked why ACTION is not a member of ECFA. There are several reasons (as listed above), but one reason is how ECFA allows some of its members to use finances. For example, “. . . 30.9 percent of ECFA members spend more than 25 percent of their income on fundraising. Four members were above 50 percent, and two exceeded 70 percent” [Christianity Today editorial, May 12, 2004]. This use of funds would be completely unacceptable to donors or its trustees.

ACTION’s annual report, financial statements, independent audit, and Form 990 are available to the public on request. Specific questions are always welcome and responded to individually by the USA Director or Lead accountant.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Famous Charles

Our grandson, Douglas Charles, is now fifteen. When he was born, I asked our son, Robby, why he named him Douglas Charles. I knew where the name Douglas came from, but what about the name Charles? Robby was surprised and said, "Dad, you know. Charles Spurgeon, your hero!"

Yes, most of us have heard of Charles Spurgeon, the famous godly preacher, orphanage and pastors' college founder, author, and pastor of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle in the 1800s. However, there is another "Charles," a Charles about whom many of us have heard very little or nothing. This is Charles Loring Brace of New York City in the 1850s.

Imagine yourself a child, abandoned on the streets of New York. Your immigrant parents died on a ship on the way to America or in poverty in a city alley. You have no money and no relatives. You can't speak English, and you are left to fend for yourself.

As many as 30,000 orphans found themselves in exactly that predicament in the 1850s. They slept in alleys, huddling for warmth in boxes or metal drums. To survive, the boys mostly stole, caught rats to eat, and rummaged in garbage cans. Girls sometimes worked as "panel thieves" for prostitutes, slipping their tiny hands through camouflaged openings in walls to lift a watch or wallet from a preoccupied customer.

Immigrants were flooding New York City then, and no one had the time or money to look after the orphans—no one, that is, except Charles Loring Brace, a 26-year-old minister. Horrified by their plight, he began the foster home plan. When he ran out of homes, he organized a unique solution, the Orphan Train. The idea was simple: put hundreds of orphans on a train heading west. As the train passed through towns along the way, Christian committees brought approved Christian families to the train station to claim a new son or daughter from the Orphan Train.

By the time the last Orphan Train steamed west in 1929, between 150,000 and 200,000 children had found new homes and new lives. Some of the homes were not the best or very loving, but most of the children were taken in by families who loved and cared for them even in a day when orphans were looked down upon. Two orphans from such trains became governors, one served as a United States Congressman, and still another was a U.S. Supreme Court justice. [Source:]

Perhaps our loving God would raise up another Charles in this century to take the Gospel and compassionate care to the 10 million orphans today in Africa. If one hundred people named Charles (or Carl or Carol or Clara) took responsibility for 100,000 orphans each in Africa (as Charles Brace did), a total of 10 million would be ministered to and cared for in Jesus' name.

Is this too much to ask and trust God for? Yes, but only if God meant James 1:27 for a few orphans and not all of them!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Know What the Bible Says about Life and Euthanasia

1. Human life is sacred because man is made in God’s image.
"Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’" - Genesis 1:26

2. God alone is sovereign over life and death.
"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand." - Deut. 32:39

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9

"Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." - Psalm 139:16

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…" - Ephesians 1:11

"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." - Hebrews 9:27

3. Suicide is defined as self-killing.
"Thou shall not kill." - Exodus 20:13

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." - 2 Tim 2:3

4. The human body belongs to God.
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." - 1 Corinthians 6:19

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” - I Peter 4:1-2

5. Suffering can draw us closer to God.
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." - II Corinthians 1:8-9

"But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." - II Corinthians 12:9

6. The eternal transcends the temporal.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." - II Corinthians 4:16-18

7. God's steadfast love offers us hope.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38

8. We can glorify God even in death.
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’" - Luke 23:46-47

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." - Philippians 1:20

9. Jesus Christ offers us ultimate victory over suffering."For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23

"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ - I Corinthians 15:54


Friday, October 17, 2008

Slavery Under Ideal Conditions

By Henry Bibb
Christian History, Issue 62 (Vol XVIII, No 2)

Mr. Young [a devout Methodist] never was known to flog one of his slaves or sell one. He fed and clothed them well and never overworked them. He allowed each family a small house to themselves with a little garden spot whereon to raise their own vegetables; and part of the day on Saturdays was allowed them to cultivate it.

In time, he became deeply involved in debt, and his properly was all advertised to be sold by the sheriff at public auction. It consisted of slaves, many of whom were his brothers and sisters in the [local Methodist] church.

The first man offered on the block was an old gray-headed slave by the name of Richard. When they had bid him up to 70 or 80 dollars, one of the bidders asked Mr. Young what he could do, as he looked over old and infirm? Mr. Young replied by saying, “He is not able to accomplish much manual labor, from his extreme age and hard labor in early life. Yet I would rather have him than many of those who are young and vigorous; who are able to perform twice as much labor because I know him to be faithful and trustworthy, a Christian in good standing in my church. I can trust him anywhere with confidence.”

This giving him a good Christian character caused them to run him up to near two hundred dollars. His poor old companion [his wife] stood by weeping and pleading that they might not be separated. But the marriage relation was soon dissolved by the sale, and they were separated never to meet again.

After the men were all sold they then sold the women and children. They ordered the first woman to lay down her child and mount the auction block; she refused to give up her little one and clung to it as long as she could while the cruel lash was applied to her back for disobedience. She pleaded for mercy in the name of God. But the child was torn from the arms of its mother amid the most heart-rending shrieks from the mother and child on the one hand, and the bitter oaths and cruel lashes from the tyrants on the other. In this way the sale was carried on from beginning to end.

There was each speculator with is handcuffs to bind his victims after the sale, and while they were doing their writings, the Christian portion of the slaves asked permission to kneel in prayer. While bathing each other with tears of sorrow on the verge of their final separation, their eloquent appeals in prayer to the Most High seemed to cause an unpleasant sensation upon the ears of their tyrants. They were soon raised from their knees by the sound of the lash, and the rattle of the chains, in which they were soon taken off by their respective master -- husbands from wives, and children from parents, never expecting to meet until the judgment of the great day.

Having thus tried to show the best side of slavery that I can conceive of, the reader can exercise his own judgment in deciding whether a man can be a Bible Christian and yet hold his Christian brethren as property, so that they may be sold at any time in market, as sheep or oxen, to pay his debts.

Henry Bibb (1815-1854), a fugitive slave, became a leading abolitionist. This selection is a condensed excerpt from his 1849 Narrative of the Life and Adventures of an American Slave.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Truth and Life Go Together

The desire of marketers and emergents to engage the culture is commendable. Engaging it, though, is not the same thing as capitulating to it. Missionaries know the difference. They know they can adapt to local dress and blend in by learning the language and by fitting in with the accepted rhythms of daily life. They can understand the fears and hopes of those they serve without actually embracing those hopes and fears themselves. However, the day they accept the worldview of those they work among, it is time to go home. They have nothing to say anymore.

If the evangelical church does not want to lose its voice, it will have to ensure that its engagement with postmodern culture is done biblically, thoughtfully, and conscientiously.

They church must remember two points in particular: first, that Christianity is about truth, and second, that those who say they are Christians must model this truth by their integrity. A world without truth, postmoderns know, is an empty and dangerous place. And in a world full of hype and spin, manipulation and posturing, personal integrity is like a precious jewel. Even a little integrity goes so much further than all the technology, the country-club churches, and the big performers that can be mustered in the propagation of the biblical gospel. [Page 92]

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

Thursday, October 9, 2008

ACTION: Past, Present, and Future!

by Doug Nichols

ACTION began in the Philippines in 1975 and is an international, evangelical fellowship of missionaries with main sending offices in Canada, United Kingdom, and the USA. 250 missionaries minister in 21 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

We presently need 100 additional missionaries (age 30 to 80) to work among the 3.2 million untrained pastors worldwide. We are also trusting God for 120 additional missionaries (age 21 to 70) to minister the Gospel and compassionate care to 160 million street children and 143 million orphans throughout the world.

Seeing the people, He (Jesus) felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:36-38, nasb).

Friday, October 3, 2008

As a Christian, do you walk around naked?

In the book of Colossians, the apostle Paul says we are to take off our filthy sinful garments and put on the clothing of Christ (Colossians 3:1-17). Are we so dressed?

We are to put on nine pieces of Christ-like clothing. Look at the three in verse 12,” … compassion, kindness, … gentleness.”

Is this how you are dressed? Are you kind (good) to your family, your neighbors, teenagers, children, Muslims, and to non-Christians? Do you show compassion? Are you gentle and kind to others?

If not, we are standing before the world naked, and most of us do not look too good. Let us clothe ourselves with the garments of Christ, to show and share the Gospel, and He will draw people to Himself!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What is the Social Gospel?

Is there such a thing as social gospel? The Gospel stands alone. It is a message of salvation of good news of salvation in Christ alone, salvation by God’s grace by faith in Him through Christ alone! (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) (John 14:6)

As believers in Christ alone for our salvation, we are then to live out the Gospel in obedience to Christ who said if we love Him, we are to obey Him (John 14:15). Good works are not the Gospel (as the Gospel stands alone), but are the results of the Gospel (Ephesians 2: 8-10).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Border Guards Opened the Wrong Bags!

Years ago, Margaret and I were asked to lead a team of three couples into China through a certain border crossing to test its accessibility for smuggling Bibles.

As we approached the crossing, I became very uneasy as to how we had packed the Bibles in our luggage. On the boat, therefore, we totally repacked our bags in secrecy.

The well-trained border guards asked us to open the bags in which we had previously packed the Bibles. Finding no Bibles (I guess the border guards could easily identify Christians), they became very angry. “Do you have Bibles?” they asked angrily.

“Oh, yes,” and we showed them our personal Bibles.

“No, do you have others?” We pulled out our little New Testaments.

Finally in frustration they let us go never checking the luggage with the Bibles.

Some Bible smugglers were caught and Bibles were taken away, but God closed the eyes of the border guards at other times to allow His Word to get into the hands of God’s people in China hungry for God’s word!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jesus Sends a Sword, so He Must Be God!

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39, nasb)

My wife has a Chinese friend who married an Iranian man named Omar. Years ago, when Omar first came from Iran to the United States, he lived in New York City. He was a Muslim who hated Americans, and wanted to make a lot of money and go back to Iran rich. Desiring to be a successful business man, he purchased a self-help book entitled, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Although not a Christian book, the author used several verses from the Bible in the book.

As Omar read these verses, they rang true to him. There was something different about these verses than the other words in the book. Later, he bought another book on “How to be a Successful Salesman” by Zig Zigler, who is a Christian. This book included quite a few verses from the Bible.

As Omar read these, a desire came over him to read the whole Bible. So, he went to a bookstore in New York City and quietly, so no one could hear, asked the clerk if they had a Bible. The clerk said they didn’t have a Bible, but they had a New Testament, which was part of the Bible. Omar purchased this New Testament and went to his apartment and began to read God’s Word.

Here was Omar, a Muslim who hated Jews, reading Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. Omar was reading a book that was primarily written to explain the Messiah to Jews.

As Omar read of the genealogy of the Lord Jesus, and on through the beatitudes and the wonderful teaching of the Lord Jesus, God began to draw his heart to the Savior.

As he read the verses in Matthew 10 about members of your own household being your enemies and Jesus bringing a sword which would divide family, he fell to his knees and confessed Christ as Savior.

Later when someone asked him why these verses, of all verses, would be the very ones that would bring him to faith in Christ, he said, “When I read them, I knew that Jesus must be God because only God would require such from His followers.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

Circumstances do not dictate character but reveal it!

By Harry L. Reeder III

Leaders whom we are to imitate must have lives worthy of imitation; therefore a Christian leader must have godly character. It's the foundation of the other two elements. Leadership content and competencies are meaningless without it. Unfortunately, I have seen ministry leaders who are theologically knowledgeable (content) and/or personally charismatic and effective (competent) destroy churches and organizations because of a lack of Christian character. Godly character is driven by the grace of God, focused on the glory of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, and defined by the Word of God - all the while propelled by the love of God. Character counts.

Circumstances do not determine your character; they reveal it and become the occasion to refine it.

Here's a classic example:

General Robert E. Lee, a devout believer who felt compelled to defend his state in the Civil War even though he opposed secession and despised slavery, was left with practically nothing but hardship when the war ended. His home, Arlington Plantation, which overlooked Washington, D.C., from the Virginia side of the Potomac River, had been confiscated by the federal government and turned into a military cemetery. His wife had become an invalid. One of his daughters had died. He had suffered a series of heart attacks that left him in questionable health, and he had no foreseeable income. A prominent insurance company offered him a huge salary simply for the use of his name as an endorsement, but Lee declined, replying that his fame as a military commander had come at the cost of many soldiers' lives and he would not take advantage of them. Furthermore, Robert E. Lee explained, "my name is not for sale at any price."! I often think of that whenever I encounter a mindless celebrity product endorsement. Instead, he accepted a comparatively small salary of $1,500 a year as president of Washington College - now Washington and Lee University - a small, obscure Southern college in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. There, he committed himself to instilling young people with a character-based education rooted in Christian ethics, which he believed could help restore a broken nation. Meanwhile, he sought to set a personal example of reconciliation and reunion.

Lee's character made him a success in his peacetime calling and earned him the respect of the entire nation - North and South - and it was demonstrated on multiple occasions even before he took the job at Washington College. After he surrendered his army at Appomattox in April 1865, signaling to all other Southern commanders that the war was over, Lee returned to his wartime home in Richmond. He worshiped each Lord's Day at St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, pushing his wife to worship in a wheelchair. Worship services at St. Paul's were racially integrated, but the seating was segregated, with white worshipers seated on the ground floor and black worshipers seated in the church balcony. Sunday worship ended in communion, and the practice was for each group to sing hymns while the other group took communion - black worshipers singing while white worshipers were administered the Lord's Supper, then whites singing while blacks partook of the table.

Richmond was occupied by Northern troops at the time, and one June Sunday in 1865 two Northern soldiers attended worship to make sure that the pastor prayed publicly for the president of the United States - which he did. They also had another purpose in mind. When time came for communion to be administered, the two soldiers came forward leading a former African-American slave, obviously intending to evoke an incident. As they led the black man to kneel at the communion rail, the entire congregation - white and black - froze in place. A tense silence gripped the congregation. No one knew what to do until Robert E. Lee rose from his seat, walked with measured military cadence down the marble-floored aisle, knelt beside the black man, and put his hand on his shoulder. Then the two - black and white - were administered communion together by the pastor. Afterward, the entire congregation came forward from both floors and received the Lord's Supper on a glorious day in the life of St. Paul's Church. Several worshipers recorded the incident in their personal journals. What could have been a disastrous confrontation was transformed on that day into a celebration of the love of Christ regardless of race - all because of the Christ-centered character of one man.

Circumstances do not dictate character; but reveal it and become the occasion to refine it.

The Leadership Dynamic (A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders)
by Harry L. Reeder III
(Pages 81-83)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We Walk by Faith … not by sight, even in spending money

Our car mileage was nearing 90,000 miles. Repairs were more expensive as the car became older.

We were advised to sell it before it hit 100,000 miles to get a better price. We also needed to obtain a newer car, especially for long ministry trips and large enough for Dad Jespersen, age 95, to get in and out.

We a saw a 2007 Chevrolet with only 31,000 miles on sale for only $14,500. It was a good price, but I offered much less and the Christian dealer said yes!

We only had $600 in our car fund, but we were able to come up with the balance and also sell our older car to a family who needed it.

However, later, I really had doubts (as I always do) in spending so much money. Questions such as: “Should I spend so much money at this time?” “Perhaps our older car would have lasted a few more years?” “The car looks so new (even if it is two years old), what will people say?” “Perhaps we should have waited.” Even though friends recently bought a smaller car for double what we paid, we still have doubts.

Doubts, however, are just feelings. For example, Margaret and I both have feelings of low self-worth, but so what? Feelings are feelings, and if we only made decisions and lived our lives for Christ by feelings, we would be most miserable. As followers of Christ we are able to live by faith. Our funds (and our lives) are God’s and we can trust Him with all of it. The car belongs to God, and if it falls apart next week, well, so be it!

If we only live to satisfy ourselves and think our funds are ours instead of God’s, we have a problem. But if we move forward in obedience to God, we can trust Him, doubtful feelings or not.

Our prayer should be Jehoshaphat’s prayer in Chronicles, O our God…we are powerless ... We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You (2 Chronicles 20:12, esv).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Can't do anything!

Forty-three years ago when I had completed a summer of internship ministry and was returning to Bible school, my summer director said, “So Doug, you want to be a missionary?” I answered, “Yes sir”. He then said, “You should forget it because I do not know of anything that you are good at.”

He was right! In my last year of school, I applied to thirty different missions, and because of my violent background with alcohol and my low intellectual capabilities, I was turned down.

Finally, one organization, Operation Mobilization, accepted me because in those days they accepted anybody.

I was sent to India and for two years was trained in ministry by Indians. My main training in practical ministry was by Asians.

So friend, do you feel inadequate? Well, join the crowd – most of us are; trust God and look for people to work with you and move forward in faith trusting God to use you for His glory!