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!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What a Great Way to Wake Up!

These words, which I (God) am commanding you … shall be on your heart. You shall teach them … talk of them … when you walk … and when you lie down …(Deuteronomy 6:5-6, nasb).

Recently after church services several families met for lunch to surprise Margaret on her 63rd birthday. It was a wonderful time honoring this wonderful woman of God.

It was a large house and people visited throughout the afternoon in various rooms enjoying fellowship in Christ.

In the late afternoon I sat in a large chair to listen to a good friend discuss the Word of God with Dad Jespersen. My friend would read a passage from the Bible and Dad would explain and discuss it. This went on for quite some time, and as I was tired after a busy week, I fell asleep. It was great to not only fall asleep listening to God’s Word, but to wake up hearing it as well.

Moses in Deuteronomy teaches the importance of hearing the Word “all the time,” even when lying down. I thought later, What a great way to wake up!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It Doesn’t Matter How You Act!

If it doesn’t matter how we act as believers, then why are there so many guidelines, rules, and instructions in the Word of God telling us how to act?

Recently in an early morning Bible study, we studied Romans 13. This chapter is filled with instruction for God’s people. The last part is very specific, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy” (Romans 13:13, nasb). These are very specific “no no’s.”

The last verse of the chapter give the secret of how this can be done, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14, nasb).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Slap in the Face

A Slap in the Face!

Statistics should be like a slap in the face, they should get our attention! Then, we as Christians, need to do something about them.

For example:

There are 400,000 child slaves in Haiti, 1.2 million street children in the Philippines and 160 million worldwide. There are 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa and 143 million orphans worldwide.

This sheer number of needy children is just one reason why weare praying for hundreds of additional missionaries to take the gospel and compassionate care to needy children worldwide.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Culture of the Congregation -- Celebrating Adoption

The Culture of the Congregation -- Celebrating Adoption
By Albert Mohler

The concept of adoption is nearly universal. In the classic sense it is the formal and legally recognized act of willingly receiving someone else's child as your own. In contrast to temporary guardianship or foster arrangements, adoption is permanent. Legally, adoption establishes a new identity for the child. In many cases around the world, adoption can mean the difference between life and death.

In the New Testament, adoption serves as a primary analogy of salvation. The sinner, who prior to faith in Christ is a rebel headed for destruction, is now adopted as a child of God. This new status is further defined as that of a joint-heir with Christ. By grace, the rebel child of the enemy is adopted as a child of the King. The former slave to sin is now a son or daughter of the heavenly Father.
As the Apostle Paul explains:

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying,
“Abba! Father!”
So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
[Galatians 4:3-7, esv]

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. [Romans 8:12-17, esv]

In recent years, American Christians have seen a recovery of adoption as a living concept -- and as a focus of congregational celebration.

Many evangelical congregations actively encourage families to adopt and offer support, education, and encouragement for international adoptions. This renewed interest among evangelicals attracted the attention of The Wall Street Journal. Naomi Schaefer Riley explains that adoption is now a "hot topic in the evangelical community" as Christians understand adoption to be a sanctity-of-human-life issue.

The article cites my colleague Russell Moore as a direct authority on the issue:

Russell Moore, the dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., is the author of a forthcoming book called
"Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches.
" A few years ago, Mr. Moore and his wife adopted two boys from Russia, and he notes that his church has posted a large map showing which countries member families have adopted children from.
"In any given church,"
he notes,
"you rarely see only one family who has adopted. . . . It becomes part of the culture of the congregation."

Given the vast number of at-risk orphans in the world -- now numbering in the millions -- this resurgence in adoption among American evangelicals should be a matter of public celebration. In the United States, 127,000 children are considered "unadoptable," and many of these are racial minorities. Shouldn't the adoption of these children be a priority for the church? It would seem so, but politics and political correctness often complicate the rescue of vulnerable children.

As Naomi Schaefer Riley reports:

"There is much more openness to transracial adoption today," Ms. Rosati says. And Mr. Moore has been very vocal about this issue. Groups like the National Association of Black Social Workers have taken a strong stand against placing black children in the homes of white parents, a position that outrages Mr. Moore. He recently compared social workers who oppose transracial adoption to George Wallace. "Both are saying the same thing, 'Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.' And both pretend they're just being realistic about racial discrimination."

The command to
"defend the orphan" (Isaiah 1:16-17) has always been vital to the Christian message, Mr. Moore tells me. One thing that distinguished early Christians from their pagan neighbors was their treatment of unwanted children. And adoption is also the literal manifestation of a metaphor that Christians use to describe themselves all the time. "Every one of us who follows Christ was adopted into an already existing family,"
says Mr. Moore.

Russell Moore has offered a clear and compelling basis for celebrating and encouraging adoption, and for refuting the lies of this age with the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is, after all, a Gospel of adoption.

For Christians, this is thus a matter of adoption by the adopted. Such is the Kingdom of God.

Source: http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_print.php?id=1504

Friday, September 12, 2008

The following is an article by Jim Ellif, of Christian Communicators Worldwide, entitled
“Check Your Guns at the Door”
for your information and action.
Sincerely in Christ,
Doug Nichols
Check Your Guns at the Door: Responding Like Christians to Blogs and Web Forums
By Jim Elliff
Christian Communicators Worldwide

Those of us who have a ministry of writing are usually pretty tough folks. Many of us have been in the combat zone for quite a while and can take almost anything that is said by readers of our articles. This short plea to blog and forum participants is more about my embarrassment for all of us who are web-interactive Christians than it is for my own hide. In short, I'm appealing for etiquette characteristic of believers in reader's responses to articles and blog entries.

When reading through responses on various blogs and faith-based forums, I often wonder if those who are outside the faith are looking on. What do they think about the sometimes mean and vindictive words that are used? Or what do new believers think? When they read that tart, angry or demeaning language, are they really being helped toward Christ? If it doesn't smell good to us, it certainly is rancorous to the alert souls looking over our shoulders. At best they find comfort for their own acrimony in our unguarded words; at worst, they reject our beliefs as those which produce little change in a person.

Sadly, a collection of the extant blog and forum comments (which would fill up the Vatican and a Wal-Mart or two as well) is both a tribute to and an indictment of many of our more courageous late-night wordsmiths. With all the good that is being done, and all the spiritual gifts that are coming out through writing, much that is counter-Christian in tone spoils the pudding. The reality is that all our entries are extant to God.

When you read responses from professing believers, you expect a distinctively Christian tone to be heard in the words used. In most cases, we are not enemies but brothers, seeking to work out the truth. But, frankly, believers should not respond even to their enemies the way some do. You certainly should not write your comments to Christian writers or fellow bloggers like you intend to bruise them with your words. You should not write so as to put down the person. Rather, love for Christ and for brothers or sisters should be reflected in kindness and respect, even when you disagree. You should attempt to write with the spirit we expect in our children when they disagree with us.

I don't mean to say that you cannot be clever, but there is no excuse for being ruthless, even when you oppose. For one thing, you hardly win anybody over that way. If you intend to persuade, you must use, as Solomon told us, a little honey. Mary Poppins sang good practical theology in the words,
"A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."

Don't expect that the author of the piece you are responding to intended to say everything that can be said about the subject. That's unrealistic. Nobody does that in short articles or blog entries. Realizing that authors must be selective is helpful when considering what needs to be pointed out to everyone in your responses. In most cases, you should keep your comments to what he or she has chosen to write about and not everything else that could have been said. Try to understand what he means and not just what was written, even if you could nail the author on a technicality.

It is certainly not courteous to be long and tedious with your observations and advice. Some quote volumes of verses one after another to make their points, pummeling the writer with text after text. I'm for the authority of Scripture, but this is not Christian water-boarding. Some rejoinders are even longer than the original piece under consideration. Perhaps they think they will overcome the writer with their many words, but when I see those long arguments, I usually skip over them. I'm sure most others do as well. Such lengthy pontifications are rarely read, in fact.

Some responders cover their own pet agenda time after time, and it almost makes no difference what the original article is about. When given a chance they make a bee-line for that one issue that most concerns them. On a certain website where my articles sometimes appear I can almost always count on two writers to press their warmed-over points. They've got them down pat and hope to wear everyone down so that we all will finally come over to their viewpoint. But, sadly, they often argue into the air. I don't believe most people even read their particular comments any more. But these two do read each other's. They sometimes carry on a spirited feud right in front of our eyes! It isn't thoughtful of them to use the response space for their favorite subjects, or for bloodbaths between them on issues that are not germane to the point at hand. I find myself almost always unappreciative of such deadening, spirit-killing, doctrinaire diatribes.

All of this does not mean that we should never disagree in writing, but we should do so thoughtfully, with respect. Before writing, read over the original piece once again and see if the author missed his point so obviously. If so, take the apostle Paul's lead and tell the writer something good about the article or entry first before probing into deeper waters. Think of how Paul begins most of his letters.
Finally, for those less verbal ones who read and benefit from what is written, try your hand at responding to the articles from time to time. Get into the conversation. Be specific about some helpful line or point made. Ask appropriate questions. Make sensitive points, if you disagree, with charity. Do it all to edify and to encourage others to love Christ more from what is being written. Seek the unity of believers and not their harm. You might even pray as you write. Disarm them with kindness. It will open many hearts and minds.

Some authors writing for various ministries might wish to entertain all reactions of any stripe, helpful or unhelpful, just as long as people are at least indicating that they are reading. The number of hits is paramount. I know what they are thinking, and there is some merit to the idea. In my view, no perceived value, however, is more imperative than being Christian in all that we do or say. As Paul taught us,
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all to the glory of God."

“Check Your Guns at the Door”
by Jim Elliff. Christian Communicators Worldwide. 6 March 2008. www.ccwonline.org/guns.html.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

$7 for a Glass of Wine

Recently, my wife and I were on a Washington State Ferry, and as I was getting a bag of popcorn, two ladies in front of me were buying a glass of wine. I was shocked to hear the price, and asked, “What was the cost of the small plastic cup of wine you bought?” They answered, “$7”. I replied, “$7!”

Later I thought, “Wow! I am sure glad I do not drink anymore. Look at all the money I save!”

I guess people can drink if they want to and spend their money how they want; it is all relative isn’t it?

But, what does $7 pay for? I can buy Dad Jespersen his favorite Thai or Chinese dinner for only $7 or a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Margaret.

As far as ministry is concerned, ACTION will have a camp in Malawi, Africa, for 1000 children in October. The camp is two days and the cost is only $3 per child! This small amount includes meals, materials, facilities, the gospel and compassionate care – all for only $3 or two children for less than $7!

So, I guess if some people want to sip a little wine, fine, but wouldn’t it be great to send two orphans to camp for two days instead, especially if they might hear the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Are You Into Fads?

It was recently reported on the news that a special study in Copenhagen found that there are no more vitamins or minerals in organic food, they are no more healthy than foods that are grown with insecticides and they cost at least 30% more.!

It was also recently reported here in Seattle, Washington, that the water straight from the faucet is better and more pure than bottled water. Yet, you still see people lined up to buy bottled water, which is nearly $12 a gallon (and we’re concerned about $4 for a gallon of gas?).

We also have fads in the church and in Christian missions, don’t we? A new method for evangelism; the key way to reach Hindus or Muslims; six laws for spiritual success; three ways of guaranteeing church growth and other faddish secrets.

These fads seem to run their course in several months or a couple of years, and then there is something else new.

The problem with these fads in the church is that people almost sell their body and soul to new fads; a certain method, book and style, to the point that relationships are broken, there are splits in churches and organizations and many of God’s people become discouraged.

Instead of following a fad, a new teaching, or a method or style, let’s follow Christ and the teachings that He has left for us in His Word regarding our relationship with Him and obedience to His commands for life and ministry.

Jesus said, If you love me, keep my commands (John 14:15). The Apostle John in his epistle said, …His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3b, nasb). So dear friend, let’s trust, obey and live!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You are My Hero

My nephew (in-law) from the Philippines said to my father-
in-law, Walter Jespersen (when he was 97 years of age), “Lolo (Filipino word for grandfather), you are my hero. I want to be like you.” He then began to ask him many questions.

One question he asked was, “Lolo, what is the secret of finishing well?” Dad humbly said, “Well, there are several things. One is not being afraid to take risks for and to trust God. Another is to continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. Make sure you spend time in the Word of God and prayer, in ministry to others and live in obedience to the Lord Jesus.”

Lolo Jespersen is one of my heroes too, along with L.E. Maxwell, Charles Spurgeon, Hudson Taylor, John Sung, Evangelista Sisdora, and a host of others both past and present, who have lived and are living faithful lives for the Savior.

Let us all aim to finish and die well, and to be faithful today in living to the glory of God.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Let's Cut to the Chase

How can one explain issues simply and in a short sentence or two that we common people can understand? How can we as followers of Christ warn others of false teachings without being critical and hard?

1. “The Shack.” This is a very popular novel by William Young. People have even compared this with John Bunyan’s classic “Pilgrim’s Progress.” The difference is that “The Shack” talks of theology and God without mentioning Scripture. It reads very well but is false in how it portrays God, the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, and forgiveness. “Pilgrim’s Progress,” however, is filled with the Word of God and actually portrays salvation by faith alone through Jesus Christ, and forgiveness in and through Him.

2. “The Emergent Church Movement.” This is not as popular or large a movement as some think as a very small percentage of evangelical churches throughout North America are Emergent churches. The falsehood of the movement is that it does not hold to the inerrancy and authority of the Word of God and has done away with the Gospel of salvation in Christ and in Him alone.

3. “Open theism.” This is simply a word used for the teaching that God is not sovereign and all knowing. The Bible however teaches otherwise.

All three of these do away with God’s Word and teach falsehood. So, why do we want to read “The Shack”? Why do we want to participate in any way in the Emergent church? Open theism does away with an all-powerful God. So, stay out of the shack, and let’s move toward glory, not in prideful unbelief but in humble trust in our sovereign God, who is the Truth!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wintley Phipps

Recently we watched Amazing Grace with Wintley Phipps on YouTube with a few friends. It is absolutely amazing! I encourage you to watch this as it is only 9 minutes.
[Web site: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=gmail&q=whitley%20phipps]

Wintley Phipps is Afro-American and has one of the most moving and beautiful baritone voices today.

He says his music teacher in Alabama said that most of the Negro Spirituals can be played on just the black keys of the piano, called in musicology pentatonic scale.

I especially like what Phipps said, “Whether we are black or white, we have been brought together through God’s amazing grace!” Glory!

Phipps relates the history of the great song, Amazing Grace and then sings it. My, o, my! You have never heard anything like it!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Can Kindly (Do You Fire Graciously, or as the World?)

Recently, a friend of ours was laid off from a large Christian organization. He was one of the top men in the ministry and was given no notice or warning at all.

He was followed to his car by one of the executives at the end of the day’s work. The executive simply informed him that the company was going in a new direction and his services were no longer needed. He was not allowed to go back to his office as they would clean out his office and send his items to his home by courier!

Another acquaintance was at the airport when he received a telephone call from one of the vice presidents of the ministry, located in several major cities throughout the United States. The phone call from the corporate office was to inform him that he was terminated, effective immediately. This was quite a shock as he had just received a wonderful commendation from the president and had excellent reviews of the effectiveness of his ministry for Christ.

My wife and I were counting up similar stories of friends and acquaintances. Even the organizations of the world do not treat their people this way. What is so amazing about the stories above is that in each of these ministries, their leaders teach Christian management seminars throughout the United States and write books on Christian leadership principles.

So, dear friends, what can we learn from this in our everyday lives, ministry and activities? When we are faced with the need to “let people go,” we should follow the principles of the Word of God, …as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:10-12, nasb).

Yes, sometimes we may need to fire someone, but do it graciously and kindly, helping them move on to another ministry for the glory of God.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

400,000 Child Slaves in Haiti

from A Crime So Monstrous

1. “…slaves are everywhere. Assuming that this is your first trip to Haiti, you won’t be able to identify them. But to a lower-middle-class Haitian, their status is ‘written in blood.’ Some are as young as three or four years old. But they’ll always be the small ones, even if they’re older. The average fifteen-year-old child slave is 1.5 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than the average free fifteen-year-old. They may have burns from cooking for their overseer’s family over an open fire; or scars from beatings, sometimes in public, with the martinet, electrical cables, or wood switches. They wear faded, outsized castoffs, and walk barefoot, in sandals or, if they are lucky, oversized shoes.…you may see their tiny necks and delicate skulls straining as they tote five-gallon buckets of water on their heads while navigating broken glass and shattered roads… These are the restav├ęks, the ‘stay-withs,’ as they are euphemistically known in Creole. Forced, unpaid, they work from before dawn until deep night. The violence in their lives is unyielding.” (pages 5-6)

2. “Nationwide the number of restav├ęks ballooned from 109,000 in 1992 to 300,000, or one in ten Haitian children, in 1998, to 400,000 in 2002.” (page 7)

3. “Out of every 1,000 urban children, 112 will die before ages five; in the countryside, the figure is 149. By comparison, in the neighboring Dominican Republic, it’s 35; in war-torn Congo, 108.”
(page 8)

4. “More than 80 percent of Haiti’s schools are private, and urban high schools cost $385 per year; this sum is beyond the annual income of the typical Haitian, and particularly out of reach for rural parents, most of whose income goes toward food. The average Haitian boy receives 2 years of schooling; the average girl, 1.3. In the countryside, where only a handful of schools exist, most children never attend school at all.” (page 8)

5. “And conjured literary irony cannot compare to the cruel irony of Haiti’s history. The French colony of Saint-Domingue was once ‘the pearl of the Antilles,’ the richest colony in the hemisphere, with a GDP greater than that of the United States. Today, Haiti is the poorest nation in the Americas. Haitian blacks, who then comprised over 90 percent of the colony’s population, forged the region’s second free republic by staging, in 1971, the modern world’s first, and only, successful slave revolt. Now Haiti has more slaves than any nation outside of Asia, and more than toiled on the entire island of Hispaniola (including Haiti and the Dominican Republic) when the revolution began.” (page 12)

A Crime so Monstrous (Face-To-Face With Modern-Day Slavery)
By E. Benjamin Skinner
Free Press (www.freepress.net)