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 $300...it 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
GMTB (Givemethatbook.com)
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.

Source: http://www.apuritansmind.com/Reformation/Reformation.htm

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.