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)