Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Integrity in Ministry (Dealing with False Teaching – Not an Easy Task)

April 2008 Philippines Pastors’ Conference
with Pastor Tom Crouse

In April of 2008, a pastors’ conference was held in Manila, Philippines sponsored by Christian Growth Ministries (CGM) and Action International Ministries (ACTION). Two hundred fifty-one pastors attended, instead of the expected one hundred and fifty. By God’s grace, all were able to attend, even though it was an overflow capacity for the building, and extremely hot!

The subject of the day was “Integrity in Ministry.” In four sessions Pastor Tom Crouse covered personal integrity, biblical integrity, integrity as a shepherd, and integrity with one’s perspective of life. A noteworthy moment was in the session on biblical integrity. He spoke on the need and responsibility of pastors to get the Gospel right for their churches, to be careful who they follow, and what books they read. Pastor Crouse stated there were well known people that many in the church today were following that were heretics because of their false preaching and teaching. When he mentioned a few names, there were audible gasps from about 30 of the attendees. They had never heard or considered such a thing.

After the conference Pastor Crouse had a pastor tell him that he was going to reconsider his view of these false teachers, in particular one whose books were in his library. Tom told him to throw them away or use them to brace up furniture. This pastor said he would get rid of them and thanked Tom for having come for the conference. Other pastors said similar things and made it clear how important the conference was for them and what they had learned.

People came to the conference from all around Manila. Some came from as far away as six hours. One couple rode a bus at three in the morning and traveled six hours to be there. Truly humbling to think of their sacrifice, it was a privilege to give out some of Pastor Crouse’s books, as well as other books and materials. Praise God for allowing the conference speakers to be used in the lives of those who have sacrificed so much!

These conferences are definitely needed! The heretics of our day, who come via television, books and at times in person, taint and corrupt the Gospel message. It is well worth the money churches put out to send solid pastors to speak to Christian brothers around the world who shepherd God’s people!

Monday, March 30, 2009

David Livingstone, The Truth Behind the Legend

It has been interesting to read the book David Livingstone, The Truth Behind the Legend by Rob MacKenzie. He preached the Gospel throughout the interior of Africa and helped expose the slave trade which was devastating the continent. Slaves from the East Coast were sent to Arab lands and slaves from the West Coast had previously gone to the Caribbean, West Indies, and the Americas.

I have noted several references to sinful effects slavery had on pre-Civil War USA slavery:

1. Slavery took away the freedom rights of another.
2. It seared the conscience of slave owners and promoters; even godly men and women beat and abused slaves on a regular basis.
3. Slavery abused families – broke up God’s institution of marriage and the family.
4. It was the sin of kidnapping (man stealing) which is forbidden in the Old and New Testaments. Selling yourself for a number of years to pay a debt is one thing, but kidnapping a man or woman to take away one’s rights is another matter under the judgment of God.
5. Slavery broke the original Constitution of the United States which assured freedom of all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Orphanages Can Be Used Greatly by God (Why We Cannot Just Leave Street Children on the Street)

by Doug Nichols (Missionary to Children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America since 1968)

It is very discouraging to read articles which are basically negative in regards to caring for orphans and street children in orphanages. Of course, a loving home is better than an orphanage, but does that mean we should give up on orphanages altogether? We do realize that there are some unacceptable orphanages in the world, but creating more loving God centered orphanages could bring glory to God and save thousands of children the pain and abuse they face every day on the street. We need to support both adoption and orphanages.

Although placing a child into a loving family should be our goal, it is not always possible. An orphan or a street child is not taken directly from the street to a home. There is usually some type of government orphanage or childcare agency in which the child is placed while proper records are made. Then the child is placed into a loving family if one can be found.

So, why shouldn’t the church of Jesus Christ start many more orphanages around the world to place street and underprivileged children and orphans into a loving, Christian environment? Orphanages can be safe harbors where children can be lovingly protected and cared for until a home can be found.

The following are simple plans for a Christian Children’s Village in Africa as an example. A Christian Children’s Village with separate homes housing 12 children per home could care for 280 to 500 children! The village would have staff, supervisors, house parents, a school, an all-purpose building, a chapel, a clinic, a play area, and gardens for each house.

Children from neighboring villages could also attend the school. This would enable the orphans to be incorporated into society with other children, families, and loved ones, with the purpose of being adopted whenever possible.

To those who are criticizing orphanages and children’s villages, please, stop doing so and consider what could be done through well-run orphanages. What is the alternative? I believe you would agree that we should not leave the street children and orphans in the sewers, and streets where they are likely to be abused, but that we should place them in a loving environment where they can be cared for, nurtured and ministered to by the grace of God and the Gospel?

Children are tortured, abused, spit upon, kicked, starved and burned on the streets of the world. Why don’t you and I, as Christians, do something about it? Please, encourage your government and church to protect these children, get them off the streets, and place them where they will be loved and cared for in Jesus’ name.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27, ESV)

(This article was adapted by Pastor Kevin Hollinger, author of Reactive Attachment Disorder.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Errorist

Jude 11: Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

So in these three pen pictures from the Old Testament, we see three leading characteristics of the errorist. Like Cain, they were devoid of love. Like Balaam, they were prepared in return for money to teach others that sin did not matter. Like Korah, they were careless of the ordinance of God and insubordinate to church leaders. Charles R. Erdman in his commentary says “Jude adds that of 1) murderers, envy, and hatred (they went in the way of Cain) and further, 2) of corrupting greed (the error of Balaam) and again, 3) of proud rebellion (the gain saying of Korah."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Holy Spirit-nine manifestations of the Holy Spirit:

3-personal walk with God
(love, joy, peace)
3-public walk with others
(patience, goodness, kindness)
3-private walk with myself
(faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The 5 Ts to thank God for:

Thank you Lord for:

The Truth (Word of God)
Trials (daily difficulties) –example of Jesus/Paul
Tribulation (crisis situations to build character, faith, and trust-example of Paul)
The Tree (the cross)
Time (redeem the time)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Should we pray God's Judgment on Murderers of Children?

On a ministry trip in Africa, my wife Margaret and I witnessed some of the 20,000 children, toddlers to age 17 years, walking to the northern Uganda city of Gulu to sleep on the streets, in makeshift shelters, in dirt floor school buildings, and on hospital grounds.

They came to Gulu nightly to try to escape the killing and kidnapping by the demonic, blasphemous, terrorist rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), headed by the wicked Joseph Kony. Over the last 20 years, the Kony terrorists have slaughtered thousands in northern Uganda and abducted 25,000 children and is doing it again in Uganda and the Congo!

There are many terrorist and rebel groups worldwide who use varying degrees of violence. The Kony terrorists, however, specifically target children, murdering and kidnapping them for child-soldiers, slaves, and concubines.

Would it be right for God’s people worldwide to pray Psalm 35 in regards to the wicked Kony terrorist; to pray on behalf of the war-torn children of northern Uganda for the glory of God?

Should we pray as Christians the following from Psalm 35:1-8:

(vs. 1) “Contest, O Lord, with those who contend with the [children of northern Uganda]. Fight against the [wicked demonic Kony terrorist] who fight [kidnap, rape, and slaughter] against the [war town needy children].”
(vs. 2) “…rise up for [the children’s] help.”
(vs. 3) “Draw the spear … to meet [the Kony murderers] who pursue [the children].”
(vs. 4) “…let those [wicked terrorists] be turned back… who devise evil against [the children of Uganda and the Congo].”
(vs. 5) “Let ways [of the violent Kony rebels] be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them on.”
(vs. 8) “Let destruction come upon [the wicked Konites] unawares … into that very destruction let [these slaughterers of children] fall.”

Whether you feel about praying the above or not, please pray for the terrified children of northern Uganda and the Congo and pray that Joseph Kony, the “slayer of widows … and murderer of orphans” (Psalm 94:6) will be brought to an end; “O Lord, God of vengeance, shine forth.” (Psalm 94:1).

On behalf of the children of northern Uganda and the Congo,

Doug Nichols
Action International Ministries

Action International Ministries (ACTION) is an evangelical mission of 240 missionaries emphasizing evangelism, discipleship and development especially in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The prayer target of ACTION is for an additional 200 missionaries to take the gospel and compassionate care to the needy of the world, especially children.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

He Just Loved Us!

by Vance Havner from Pepper 'n' Salt

Among all the things that happen to us in our earthly pilgrimage, certain precious memories linger—recollections that remain by reason of the blessing they brought and the lesson they taught.

When I was a country pastor, I kept hearing about a former shepherd of my flock, one Josiah Elliott, who preached there back in the horse-and-buggy days. What a grip that man had on the hearts of the people! I became very anxious to know something of the source of his mighty influence. Other pastors of greater scholarly and social attainments had followed him, but I heard most about Josiah Elliott.

One day I went back on the creek where my farmer friend, John Brown, was plowing and asked him where lay the secret of the old preacher’s power. John reflected for a moment, as he was wont to do, and then remarked simply: “He just loved us.” I strolled back home along the pasture lane that afternoon while from the cypress swamp the wood thrush chimed his vespers at the end of a perfect day. In my heart there rang the old, old words we are so slow to learn: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1). Josiah Elliott lived in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. Would God it were a dwelling place of us all!
uest blog from Vance Havner, “Pepper ‘n’ Salt, Pulpit Library (Baker Publishing Group) 1966.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jewish Carpenter

I was at a missions meeting and met a converted Lebanese who is presently working in evangelism and discipleship among university students. Although his main ministry is to Muslims, he shares the gospel often with Jews. He tells them he works for a “Jewish carpenter” which really gets their interest. “You have probably heard of Him, “ he says, “His Name is Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ!”

Monday, March 16, 2009

No Bubba's for you

Margaret and I stopped to eat at an inexpensive, but busy and popular barbecue restaurant in Wyoming called “Bubba’s.” Even though the tables were just benches and very crowded and noisy, it was great! We were told that on one occasion, a famous movie star, his wife, and a group of friends went to Bubba’s to eat lunch and were told a table would not be available for 20 minutes (because of the large crowd). The movie star said to the waiter, “We don’t wait in line. We want a table now.” The young waiter quickly replied, “Well if you can’t wait, I guess you don’t eat at Bubba’s!”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thankful in Difficulty

Elderly blind man said to God, I thank you Father for this thorn. I’ve always thanked you for the roses, but never for my thorn. - George Matheson. I need to accept my colostomy as a thorn in the flesh. Remember the words of the Lord, “My grace is sufficient.” Mr. Bruce prayed while I was in the hospital, God is faithful. Not has been or will be, but God is faithful now in this trial. One night after my surgery, I woke up in pain about 2:00 AM and began to really feel sorry for myself. However, as I began to pray for Tuzla, a boy blinded in Bosnia, my self-pity went away.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Are we to be rude to and despise others?

Recently I finished two books on my British missionary heroes, David Livingstone and CT Studd. Both books were very informative and helpful in understanding the life and labors of these men of God.

In both books, however, it was very discouraging and sad to read so much of how Christians treated each other. Brothers and sisters in Christ were rude, vindictive, accusations through letters and publications. I would not necessarily say this was a national trait, but it was sad to read how the missionaries from the British Isles would treat each other even to the point of slander. It seemed as if no one got along (or wanted to) with each other.

Even though I learned much from both books, they were depressing. Does that mean this we are to only read books that encourage us and not face the realities of life and learn how we should live? As God’s people should we be rude, crude, and despise others? Or as Christians should we not obey the Word of God? Colossians 3:10-12 says, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him-- a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (nasb). Instead of being rude and bitter today, let’s be kind and humble.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why Does God Allow so Many of His Children to be Poor?

"Why does God allow so many of His children to be poor? He could make them all rich if He pleased; He could lay bags of gold at their doors; He could send them a large annual income or He could scatter an abundance of provision around their houses as He did with the quails and the manna. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that He sees it to be best. 'The cattle upon a thousand hills are His' – He could supply them; but He does not choose to do so; He allows them to suffer in need, He allows them to pine in poverty and obscurity. Why is this? One reason is, to give us, who are favored with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing and when we pray, but with the poor in the world we have the privilege of showing our love by ministering in alms-giving to prove that our love is not in word only but also in deed. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by Him. Let us then look upon it not as a duty, but as a privilege remembering the words of Jesus, 'in as much as you have done it unto the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.'" [Charles Spurgeon]

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Express (and Racism)

Ernie Davis, “The Express,” was the first African-American to win the Heisman trophy in collegiate football in 1961. My wife and I saw the movie about his life recently and thoroughly enjoyed it (except for the swearing, of course!).
In the beginning of “The Express,” movie, there is an excellent scene in which Ernie’s grandfather was teaching him how to read without stuttering. He was reading a passage of Scripture in 1 Corinthians. As Ernie read it slowly, his grandfather quoted it, But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10, kjv). It was powerful! This moving scene was worth the whole movie!

Another important issue in the film was the matter of racism and prejudice. Later Margaret, Dad, and I discussed as to why there has always been such racism. It seems that the sin of slavery (kidnapping) continued in the white population revealed the sinful heart by prejudice. Have you ever wondered why there is prejudice in the world? Why do all people seem to be racist in some form or another? Dad said that sin has to be confessed, to put out on the table, and call it what it is, sin. He then stated, “This is wrong. Racism, discrimination, and prejudice are wrong. They are a sin against God!”

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Year of Reading (2008)

Even in my extremely busy schedule, the Lord was good to allow me the time to make my way through about 50 books this year. I did not read every one all of the way through, but I was able to read what I needed in order to digest some of the book, which I will read again as soon as possible. As time is limited, I have decided to read only the best and highly recommended books, therefore I did not read The Shack (inappropriate concepts of the Godhead), or books by N.T. Wright or Henri Nouwen. I tried to stay with evangelical authors who will help me think but not wander. Five excellent books that I would like to mention are as follows:

A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner. This is a difficult secular book to read about the hideous sin of slavery today (i.e. women and children forced into prostitution and bonded slave labor even in Western countries). Street children, orphans, the suffering and the poor are especially susceptible to bondage and slavery.

The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells. This is a classical study! Each Christian should work his/her way through this book and discuss it especially with leaders of the church, as the book is about “the church.” Yes, being true to the Word of God will take courage these days.

The Godward Life by John Piper. This still remains my favorite of all John Piper’s books, perhaps because reading is difficult for me and the short chapters are just right. This book and The Godward Life: Book Two are two books that I use quite often for my encouragement and challenge in my love for and walk with God!

Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. This is basically a shorter version of Dever’s excellent Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. It includes simple and basic guidelines for all in the church today to become all we should be and do this in godly fellowship. We were also able to print these books in the Philippines for 1300 needy pastors.

Slavery and Christianity: Paul’s Letter to Philemon by James Robbins. Over the last several years, I have been a student of slavery and the Abolition movement. My interest in African Americans began as a boy of seven, when I saw a black person for the first time and said “Mom look at that…” My mother immediately slapped me very hard with the back of her hand! She then said, “Douglas Lee, that man is just as good as you will ever be. Don’t ever say that about anybody!” After trusting Christ, the interest grew, especially when we began working in Malawi and Zambia and heared about slavery, and then ministering in the South. In reading and studying about slavery before the Civil War, it was shocking to learn that people still said that slavery wasn’t so bad! Excuses were given: the war wasn’t over slavery, it was over state rights. They justified slavery, even saying it was Biblical! This commentary on Philemon deals with this issue and the falsehood of this unbiblical teaching. What a great book!

by Doug Nichols