Friday, May 28, 2010

Statistics Regarding Aids

Statistics Regarding AIDS

The following statistics were taken from “The Skeptics Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis” Revised Edition by Dale Hanson Bourke:

1. “Nine out of ten children living with HIV and AIDS are African.” (page 21)

2. “In 2010, it is estimated that there will be 25 million AIDS orphans in the World. (page 27)

3. “Nearly 6,000 young people, between the ages of 15 and 25, are infected every day.” (page 29)

4. “In African countries, studies estimate that between 19 percent and 53 percent of all government health employee deaths are caused by AIDS.” (page 31)

5. “Sub-Saharan Africa is home to just 10 percent of the world’s population and more than two-thirds of all people living with HIV.” (page 43)

6. “India now has an estimated 5.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS, making it the country with the greatest number of infections in the world.” (page 47)

The following statistics were taken from AIDS Care Education and Training (ACET) - United… In a global response to AIDS:
7. Around 33 million people are living with HIV, of which 2 million are children (Source UNAIDS)

8. In some countries, over 20% of all people are infected with HIV and life expectancy has fallen below 36.

9. It is estimated there are 0.5 million people living with HIV in Russia, with this number growing 20% in the last year. The majority, 72% according to official figures, contracted the infection through injecting drug use.

As a team, ACTION continues to emphasize the needs resulting from the AIDS pandemic in Africa and India. We are trusting God for many additional missionaries to serve in Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and India. ACTION is making a special effort through our AIDS & Orphan Crisis Care & Evangelism Ministry to reach as many as possible with the Gospel and compassionate care.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

He Saw The Wagons

by Brother Given O. Blakely

“And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived" (Gen 45:27).

Jacob had lived for over thirteen years, thinking his favorite son Joseph was dead. After selling Joseph to a band of Ishmaelites when he was seventeen years old, his brothers dipped his coat of many colors in blood, and showed it to Jacob. After seeing it, the aged patriarch said, "an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces" (Gen 37:2,31). It was a most difficult time for Jacob. He wept and mourned "for many days," and "refused to be comforted" (37:34-35).

Now, many years later, Jacob is told "Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt." It seemed too good to be true, only adding to his sorrow. The Word tells us, "And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not" (37:31). Alas, sometimes even the best and most truthful news seems too good to be true, only adding to our sorrow.

Joseph must have sensed how difficult it would be for Jacob to believe he was alive. He sent abundant provisions back with his brothers to confirm he was, in fact, alive, and able to care for his father and brethren. The once jealous brothers returned home with "wagons," loaded with provisions. They had "provision for the way," extra clothes, ten donkeys loaded with "the good things of Egypt," and ten more loaded with "corn, and bread, and meat" for his father. They left home with virtually nothing, but what an entourage accompanied their return!

Joseph did not send a list of procedures back with his brothers, to be presented to Jacob. Nor, indeed, did he send a list of requirements to be fulfilled. Both of those were undoubtedly involved in making the move to Joseph's realm, but neither could provide sufficient incentive to initialize the move.

As soon as Jacob "saw the wagons," his spirit revived. Hope was rekindled, and the long years of sorrow were forgotten. The wagons proved Joseph was really alive.

This incident reveals much about the "great salvation" that is in Christ Jesus "with eternal glory." In redemption, the Lord has sent us wagons filled with Divine provision. The abundance of Joseph's provision is nothing to compare with the preparations brought within the good news of the Gospel. When once the soul recognizes something of what God has prepared for those who love Him, the fire of hope will be kindled, and the perceiving person will be revived. Being convinced of the promises of God equates to Jacob seeing the wagons. The incentives of the sight are strong.

Throughout the Scripture, the Spirit shows us Divine wagons, laden with the promises of God. They are designed to bring revival to our spirits. Surely you have not forgotten them. Even the invitation to come to Christ initially is attended by the sight of "wagons." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing my come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). Oh, the blessedness of seeing "the wagons!" Only those who fail to see them can refuse the invitation.

But there are more "wagons" than we see at first. Our Lord continues to show them to us after we have entered the Kingdom and been joined to the Lord. To those fainting in the battle, the Spirit speaks of the "wagons." "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psa 30:5) . Again he speaks, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 1:13). The wagons are coming, and they are laden with benefits that will dispel all recollections of the past!

If you want to move the people of God along, show them the wagons! Tell them what the Lord has "prepared for them that love Him" (1 Cor 2:9). Remind them of the "inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" for them (1 Pet 1:4). Show them the wagons! Remind them that "when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see him as He is" (1 John 3:2). Tell them of "the crown life," their "own reward," and "a crown of glory that does not fade away" (James 1:12; 1 Cor 3:8; 1 Pet 5:4). Lift up your voice and announce "the saints shall judge the world .. and angels" (1 Cor 6:2). Then you will see their spirits revived. Their troubles will diminish in the bright glow of "exceeding great and precious promises" (2 Pet 1:4). Show them the wagons!

In keeping with this Christmas day 1999, those with eyes to see perceive the coming of Jesus into this world as accompanied by a host of heavenly wagons, laden with good things for those bold enough to believe.

PRAYER POINT: Father, help me through Jesus Christ to see more clearly the abundance you have provided in Him.

December 25th, 1999
Word of Truth Publication
Saturday Contemplation
by Brother Given o. Blakely

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bad Haircut ... I have now had the worst!

To save money, I had my hair cut by a student barber (a young man in training to cut hair). I told him I only wanted a trim. As he began cutting, I asked him about his life. He began to talk, and as he talked, he cut, and as he cut, he talked more and more!

Hair was flying in all directions as he excitedly told me about his life in Laos, growing up in a very violent community, and immigrating to the states with his parents. Being totally out of his culture and wanting acceptance, he joined a gang, became involved in drugs and violence, and eventually went to prison.

I began to share the Gospel, and as I shared, he continued to cut more and more. I started to become worried, but then asked myself what was more important: to have a proper hair cut or for this young man to hear the Gospel. As I continued to share the good news of Christ, he listened closely.

So, yes it is a disaster of a haircut and I am uglier than ever, but at least I was able to share the Gospel with a young man from Laos recently out of prison.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rock or Pebbles?

(How is your church's preaching, music, and discipleship?)

The writer of the book of Hebrews instructs us to, “…consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:25, nasb). The apostle Paul encouraged churches to trust and serve God, to give generously, to be faithful, and to be an example to other churches. Perhaps we should follow Paul’s example.

I would like, therefore, to make a small attempt at this by giving the example of a church in Manila, Philippines which may stimulate you to consider doing the same (or similar actions) in your church -- not just to copy another church -- but to continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ for His glory.

Higher Rock Christian Church is a fellowship of about 500 in Metro Manila, Philippines. It rents facilities in an office complex on a main road surrounded by bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. It is one of the main church in a small denomination (Communion of Christian Ministries) with a huge impact throughout the Philippines.

Of the many wonderful characteristics of this church, let me mention three things that really stand out to my wife Margaret and me:

1.Preaching/teaching. The pastors, elders and leaders really labor hard at preaching and teaching the whole counsel and Word of God. The church members respond by each bringing and using their Bibles. Most seem to have a grasp of the major doctrines (teachings) of God’s Word. The pastors strive to make the “main things the plain things” so all understand. Preaching the Word takes time! Short exhortations of 6 to 10 minutes from the Word are given at the beginning of each Sunday service by elders and leaders who then pray) with the main exposition (sermon/message) being given later by the pastor of 45 to 60 minutes!

2.Music. When I have spoken in the church, every hymn and spiritual song not only had a beautiful melody (and easy for all to sing together) but also true to the Word of God. As I travel worldwide in ministry, much “worship time” in churches is singing songs that have a catchy or is emotionally-tuned for feeling but have absolutely no true uplifting, biblical truth. Many times only the worship leader and band are singing even though the words on a screen, as the song is not easily sung for all. This is not so with what is sung by the Higher Rock Church of Manila. I asked how they were able to have such wonderful and beautiful hymns and songs each service. The answer was “hard work and strict adherence to their worship guidelines.” These simple guidelines are used to measure all that is sung by the worship team (choir) and congregation.

These are:
a.Each hymn/spiritual song must magnify the Lord Jesus Christ, not self; the emphasis to be on Christ, not an emotional feeling.
b.Each is to be true to the Word of God (doctrinally sound). Are the words true to Scripture?
c.The music is not to be worldly sounding (not to cater to the flesh), in which one would mainly want to dance.
d.The hymn/spiritual song should be easily for all to sing and worship God together.

3.Discipleship. Most everyone in the church are either being discipled in the Word of God or discipling (teaching) others. All of the pastors, elders, leaders (and their wives) or working with, helping and training others in the things of God. The senior pastor’s wife is very busy with four teenage children and is also discipling several women as well as working with other wives of church leaders in women’s ministry of the church. (The church is especially noted for its effective ministry to women led by the women). There is a strong discipleship program (of real depth) to all ages in the church throughout the week.

So dear friends, does this encourage you to work on these three items in your church fellowship? Perhaps you can do nothing about the preaching, but you can help improve the music and especially discipleship!

Let me encourage you with the following, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren [and sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58, nasb).

So let’s build our lives and churches on the Rock (obedience and worship to Christ) and not pebbles of sand.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Can you stay on your horse?

Jane Austin was a writer during the Georgian era and wrote several books, most of which portrayed the clergy in a demeaning way. The clergy were always simpletons and prideful; seemingly turning down their noses at people, rather than ministering the grace of God and His loving kindness.

When my family and I watched a new rendition of Emma by the British BBC. The acting and photography were excellent!

In the first part of the series, the Vicar (clergy) was getting on a horse and someone said about him, “That man is so full of himself, it is a wonder he can stay on his horse!”

This is exactly the opposite description of what should be said about a pastor or even a Christian.

Instead, a person should be able to say, “That man [woman] is such a wonderful person. He is so kind, gracious, humble and easy to get along. He is always reaching out to others, serving them, taking the back seat (or even giving up his seat) so that others can be cared for; he is the last one to be served and the first one to graciously give a kind word of encouragement and minister to others, even though he may be suffering himself.”

In Colossians 3:12-13 (nasb), Paul says, So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

As you can see, these nine character qualities listed in Colossians are the exact opposite of pride. A good question for each of us, therefore is, “Can we stay on a horse or are we too full of ourselves with pride?”

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, nasb).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wedding Modesty: Has it Gone Out of Style?

by Carolyn Mahaney

A few years ago, CJ (Mahaney)and I had the privilege of going to a church where CJ spoke on the topic of modesty. At the conclusion of my husband's sermon, the church's worship pastor, Todd Murray, presented an additional appeal in his closing remarks. He urged all girls to consider modesty even when shopping for formal attire and wedding dresses. His words were laden with care and compassion, yet they carried an appropriate soberness. We felt Todd's exhortation was too important to be heard only by the girls of his church, so we asked if we could post his words here. He graciously agreed. Let's listen in and be challenged by one pastor's heart and plea to the women of his church:

Ladies, please don't forget to apply these principles of modesty to formal events and weddings. In recent years, I have become increasingly grieved by the immodest dresses of both brides and bridesmaids at the weddings that I officiate. I have observed a number of young ladies in our fellowship who have dressed modestly all their lives appearing on their wedding day in extremely provocative dresses, exposing more of themselves than on any other day of their lives.

I assume the best about what is going on in the hearts of these young women. I don't think that they went to the wedding dress shop determined to be provocative. No doubt, they just wanted a dress that would be elegant on this day that they have dreamed of all their lives. When a bride and mother set out on their expedition to find a wedding dress, they are, quite naturally, thinking like… women! Unfortunately, there is no one in the shop who is thinking like a man! I'd like to make a radical proposal, girls. Why not take your father with you to the wedding boutique? If that thought is just too much for you (or your Dad!) at least consider taking the dress out on approval and allowing your dad to see it before you make your final purchase.

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when shopping for a wedding or bridesmaid's dress:

1. Does this dress reflect the fact that a wedding ceremony is a holy service of worship and not a fashion show?

2. Can I picture myself standing in this dress, for an extended period of time, just a few feet from my pastor as he opens the Word of God and leads me in my solemn vows?
Pastor Todd Murray isn't the only one concerned about immodesty at weddings. I know the pastors of my church share this concern as well.

Having three married daughters, I know the challenges involved in finding modest wedding attire. However, with a lot of time and effort, it can be done! As Todd mentioned, the dad's role is crucial in this process. CJ helped our girls by providing guidelines for appropriate bridal wear and giving final approval to their choices. Quite simply, the standard of modesty and self-control didn't change. Here are some criteria CJ gave to the girls:

1. Find a wedding dress with a neckline that completely conceals any cleavage.
2. Avoid dresses without sufficient covering in the back.
3. Strapless gowns or dresses with only spaghetti straps are revealing and thus do not serve the men in attendance at your wedding.
4. A modest gown should not be excessively tight and draw unnecessary attention to your figure.

We hope these specifics assist you in evaluating modest bridal and evening attire. However, please be on guard against the temptation to be self-righteous toward those who choose differently. If you think a bride is dressed immodestly, her wedding day is not the appropriate occasion to comment on her dress! Simply rejoice with her in the goodness of God displayed in her marriage.

And if you are preparing to get married, we hope these thoughts serve you in your effort to plan a ceremony that brings glory to God. May He give you much joy on that special day!

Originally posted on CW in June 2008

Editor's Note: In April of 2007, Crosswalk ran a series of articles on modesty by Carolyn Mahaney and her three grown daughters Kristin, Nicole and Janelle. Spring 2010 is here, and with each new fashion cycle, questions about modesty continue to crop up. So we've resurrected this series in hopes that it will once again be a helpful guide for women and girls. All articles were modified from entries on the blog, "GirlTalk: Conversations on Biblical Womanhood and Other Fun Stuff."


Friday, May 14, 2010

A Longing for Books

by Randy Alcorn

One of my lifelong loves has been reading great books. I lament the decrease in the number of Christians who are avid readers. We seem to be more interested in television, movies, popular culture, and all kinds of trivia than in great books. And we are leading our children and grandchildren into functional illiteracy, shallowness, and superficiality. Most sadly of all, someone who isn’t a reader will never be a reader of God’s Word. What does this suggest about where church leaders, and therefore churches, will be tomorrow?

I loved the following, from my friend Tony Reinke, at

In 1779 John Newton published a 3-volume collection of hymns titled Olney Hymns. It contained 348 hymns, including Amazing Grace, and were mostly written by Newton himself (William Cowper pitched in 68). Upon hearing of the book’s release John Ryland Jr., a friend of Newton’s, wanted a set for himself. Ryland wrote Newton to express his anticipation. Newton mailed him a free set. But ahead of the books Newton sent the following letter:

The hymn books will be with you soon, how soon I know not. Your hungry curiosity will not be long in appeasing. When you have read the preface, twirled over the pages, run your eye down the tables of contents, and have the book by you, you will feel much as you do about any other book that has been lying by you seven years. At least I have often found it so (but perhaps your heart is not just like mine). I have longed for a book, counted the hours till it came, anticipated a thousand things about it, flew to it at first sight with eagerness as a hawk at its prey; and in a little time it has been as quiet, as if placed upon the upper shelf in a bookseller’s shop. [Wise Counsel, 127]

from Randy Alcorn

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It is Always Too Early to Quit!

Does it bother you that there are 100 million street children and 150 million orphans worldwide? Most likely it does, and for good reason. Being disturbed by something is often the Holy’s Spirit’s way of prompting us to take action and dive into missionary work—which is positive. However, as missionaries we must be cautious not to move from being bothered to being discouraged or defeated.

My family recently watched the excellent film “Amazing Grace” about William Wilberforce and the 1800’s abolition movement in the United Kingdom. Wilberforce was bothered by slavery. This movie chronicled Wilberforce’s battle in the British Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade. In one scene, Wilberforce’s future wife asked him why he could no longer talk about the matter of slavery. He responded, “I have been battling slavery for years, and yet after all the petitions, all the speeches, and all the bills presented to Parliament, ships filled with human souls in chains continue to sail around the world as cargo!”

He was right. Slaves continued to be beaten, brutalized, raped, and killed. Little children were separated from their families or even burned alive. Masses of slaves died in the hulls of slave ships. After years and years of fighting the slave trade, Wilberforce felt nothing seemed to have changed, and he was deeply discouraged.

Those of us in ministry to street and underprivileged children, and orphans can be just as easily discouraged. We have had camps for thousands of needy children, street children, and orphans. We’ve cared for thousands of precious little ones, rescued hundreds from pedophiles, opened hundreds of orphan homes, day care centers, and we’ve challenged church after church in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to reach out to needy children. Yet, there are 27,000 children dying daily from malnutrition and disease, another 160 million still on the streets, 145 million orphans worldwide, and 27 million slaves (mostly children) throughout the world--with up to 400,000 child slaves in Haiti alone.

Yes, we see thousands rescued and coming to Christ every year, but there are still millions not being reached. It is easy to become discouraged just like Wilberforce, and yet, he persevered in the grace of God to see the slave trade throughout the British Empire come to an end. Will we persevere as God’s servants in ministry to children? We must! And, with God’s help, we will! Encourage one another and take encouragement from God and His Word:

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren [and sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58, nasb).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Statistics of Children in Crisis

Taken from the booklet, Child in the Midst (Prayer for children at risk), VIVA Network.

1.According to UNICEF, millions of children run away from home because of violence and abuse. 185 million children under 18 years of age live in Latin America and every year six million suffer extreme violence and some 80,000 die in their own homes. [page 12]

2.The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 150 million girls and 73 million boys have suffered some form of sexual harm. [page 13]

3.It is estimated that there are 700 million children of primary school age and more than 121 million do not attend school, mostly in South Asia and sub Saharan Africa where poverty prevents them. [page 18]

4.50 million babies have started life without a legal identity. With no documentation to prove how old they are or even if they exist, they are likely to be faced with discrimination and lack of basic access to services such as education or health care. [page 19]

5.27,000 children die every day because of hunger or preventable illnesses and 100 million children live or work on the streets (UNICEF). [page 24]

6.More than 140 million children are malnourished and 5.6 million die every year through starvation. [page 25]

7.The International Labour Organization (ILO), estimate that 12 million children are victims of trafficking each year, being moved from one country to another to fulfil selfish sexual needs. In India, children are exploited and end up working as slaves to pay off debts incurred by their families. [page 25]

8.Approximately 33 million people were living with HIV in 2008; 2.1 million of them were estimated to be children under 15 years of age. [page 30]

9.Around 17.5 million children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Millions more have been affected, with a vastly increased risk of poverty, homelessness, school dropout, discrimination and loss of life opportunities. These hardships include illness and death. [page 31]

10.Of the estimated 2 million people who died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2008, 280,000 of them were children under 15 years old. [page 31]

Friday, May 7, 2010

High Cotton (or Picking Cotton with Mama)

When I was in grade school, I used to go to the cotton fields after school and all day on Saturday to pick cotton with my mother. Sometimes I would tell my mother I was really thirsty from working in the hot sun and go back to the big trailer where they piled the cotton and where they kept the water. I would get a drink and then end up playing under the trailer with the other kids. Of course this did not last long because my mother would find me and switch me all the way back to the cotton fields to work more. All the other “cotton pickers” would laugh because of my loud yelling and crying, knowing that I was just faking it.

Even though I was young, I learned to pick cotton fast, but I could not pick as fast as my mother. She was a hard worker and wonderful mother. She could sure pick cotton and cook. Even though she spanked me many times, she loved me! I did not have a dad, but I had a wonderful mom who taught me to work hard, be generous, respect others, love blacks, and have compassion for the poor even though we were poor.

I remember when I needed a pair of shoes and she said, “I am sorry Douglas, but we do not have money to buy shoes. You will have to go bare foot a few more weeks.”

The following Sunday at church when the offering plate went by, my mom put in a $5 bill. I said, “Mom, we do have money!”

She answered, “Oh no Douglas, this is not our money; it is God’s.”

So, I like the song, “High Cotton”. It is not completely accurate as I never had a daddy, but I sure had a mama who loved God:

“High Cotton”

We didn’t know the times were lean
Round our house the grass was green
It didn’t seem like things were all that bad

I bet we walked a thousand miles
Chopin’ cotton and pushin’ plows
And learnin’ how to give it all we had

As life went on the years went by
I saw the light in Daddy’s eyes
And felt the love in mama’s hands

The kept us warm and kept us fed
Taught us how to look ahead
Now lookin’ back I understand

We were walkin’ in high cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Those fertile fields are never far away
We were walkin’ in high cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Leavin’ home was the hardest thing we ever faced.

When Sunday mornings rolled around
We dressed up in hand-me downs
Just in time together with the church
Sometimes I think how long it’s been
And how it impressed me then
It was the only day my daddy wouldn’t work.

We were walkin’ in high cotton

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Leading by Serving

I usually don't share things by Ken Blanchard, but this is quite good. -- DLN

by Ken Blanchard
When two disciples of Jesus requested a place of prominence in Jesus’ kingdom, Jesus instructed the disciples on the true meaning of leadership—not "lord-leadership," but servant leadership.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask."

They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory. … "

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be sewed, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Character Check
How does my ego prevent me from servant leadership at work or at home?

In Business Terms
Often we announce a destination: "Here's a vision; here's what I want to do." Then we use a delegating leadership style and don't roll up our sleeves and get in there.

That's what managing the journey is. Sure, it's coming up with the vision and the direction, but then the vision must be implemented: coaching, supporting, giving directions, praising progress, and redirecting.

Jesus did this well. I told consultants Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, who wrote In Search of Excellence, "You didn't invent management by wandering around. Jesus did." He wandered from one little town to another, and people would say, "How do you become first?" Jesus said, "By being last."

People would ask him, "How do you lead?" "By following."

How many people do you know who go to their boss's house for dinner and the boss says, 'Take off your shoes and socks and let me wash your feet"?

Managing the journey of change is servant leadership. We must get our egos out of the way and praise, redirect, reprimand-anything it takes to help people win.

—Ken Blanchard

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Responding to Disasters

from R.C. Sproul

How do we respond to the violence of natural disasters? How does our theology deal with such wanton destruction that shows no respect for persons? The elderly, infants, and helplessly infirm experience no mercy in the face of natural disasters such as floods and storms that sweep away everything in their paths. After such events, the question on many people's lips is: "How could a good God allow such a thing to happen?"

Nature's angry tirades have produced endless speculation from philosophers and theologians. How do we, as Christians, respond to the problem of pain and suffering in the world? Scripture provides no final answer to the problem of evil and suffering. But it gives some helpful guidelines.

First, the Bible teaches us that evil is real. The Bible never seeks to minimize the full reality of suffering and misery. It makes no attempt to pawn these realities off as mere illusions. Nor is there any call to a Stoic attitude of imperturbability or detachment from such reality. The biblical characters speak openly of calamity; they weep real tears; they rend their garments and pen their lamentations. The Christ of Scripture is a man of sorrows who is acquainted with grief. His road is the Via Dolorosa.

Second, the Bible teaches that evil is not ultimate. Though Christianity recognizes the total force of evil, it is never regarded in ultimate categories of dualism. Evil is dependent and derived. It has no independent power above and over God. It is redeemable. Though Scripture takes evil seriously, its message is one of triumph. Though the whole creation groans in travail waiting for its redemption, that groan is not futile. Over all creation stands the cosmic Christ who at the same time is Christus Victor.

Coram Deo: How do you respond in the face of disaster? Do you blame God? What is your personal theology of suffering?

Psalm 135:3: "Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant."

Psalm 100:5: "For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations."

Psalm 86:5: "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You."

Monday, May 3, 2010

We Are Agreed Regarding Prayer

by John Richard, ACTION Minister-at-large

** That if two of us on earth agree about anything we ask for, it will be done for us by our Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19)
** That where two or three of us come together in the name of Jesus, there Jesus is present among us (Matthew 18:20)
** That He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will surely along with Him , graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)
** That if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us -- this is the assuranc e we have in approaching God (1 John 5:14)
** That we will obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need, if we would go boldly to the throne of His grace (Hebrews 4:16)
** That we have not because we ask not and that when we do ask, we do not receive because we ask amiss (James 4:2-3)
** That when someone gives us a hard time and persecutes us, we need to cover that person in earnest prayer (Matthew 5:44)
** That Jesus taught His disciples how to pray rather than how to preach (Matthew 6:5)
** That we are to watch and pray even as Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane required of His disciples: “Could you not watch with me for a single hour?” (Matthew 26:40)
** That Jesus taught by example what it is to continue all night in prayer to God (Luke 6:12)
** That the good and compassionate Heavenly Father is waiting readily to give the Holy Spirit to us, if we would humble ourselves to ask Him (Luke 11:13)
** That if our hearts do not condemn us, then have we confidence toward God and we receive from Him whatever we ask (1 John 3:21-22)
** That if we harbor sin in our hearts, then the Lord will not even hear us; He has to hear us, before He can answer us (Psalm 66:18)
** That the eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous and His ears are open to our cry (Psalm 34:15; James 5:16b)
** That when the poor and needy seek water but there is none and their tongues are failing for thirst, then the LORD will hear them and not forsake them (Isaiah 41:17)
** That even though we confess: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” , yet there’s no real thirsting in our soul for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2)
** That if we are to have a spiritual revival in our church, then we will need to answer truthfully two disturbing questions: “Has someone got something against me? (Matthew 5:23-24) and “Have I got something against someone? (Mark 11:25)
** That there’s such a thing as solidarity of sin, that is, when any one of us sins, that affects the whole body of Christ (Joshua 7:11, 21; Isaiah 59:9, 11; Ezra 9:13; Nehemiah 9:33-34; Daniel 9:3-19)
** That we are to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests and that with this in mind, we are to be alert and keep on praying for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18)
** That Satan trembles when he sees the feeblest saint on his knees and that there’s no other way whereby we can withstand against his schemings (Ephesians 6:11)
** That when we call to the LORD, He is willing both to answer us and to show us marvelous and wondrous things we could never have figured out on our own (Jeremiah 33:3)
** That when man works, man works but when man prays, God works (James 5:17-18)

--John Richard, ACTION Minister-at-large