Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hunt for Truth

C.H. Spurgeon
John 5:39

The Greek word translated search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, the kind men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in pursuit of game. We must not be content with giving a superficial glance to one or two chapters, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the meaning of the Word.

Holy Scripture requires searching—much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babies, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, indeed, upon every title of Scripture. Tertullian declared, "I adore the fullness of the Scriptures." The person who merely skims the Book of God will not profit from it; we must dig and mine until we obtain the treasure. The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures demand to be searched. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur—who shall dare to treat them casually? To despise them is to despise the God who wrote them.

God forbid that any of us should allow our Bibles to become witnesses against us in the great day of account. The Word of God will repay searching. God does not ask us to sift through a mountain of chaff with only here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is sifted corn—we have only to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student.

It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye, it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with gold and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. There is no merchandise like the merchandise of scriptural truth. Finally, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: "They that bear witness about me." No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: He who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, and all things. Happy are they who, in searching the Bible, discover their Savior.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are You Easily Offended?

One of the biggest problems in the Christian church today is Christians who are easily offended. The sad truth is that even some Christian leaders are easily angered and offended!

The true mark of a mature Christian is a life that is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, nasb).

Many Bible commentators feel that love is the fruit, with the other eight characteristics listed simply as a manifestation of love.

We read in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love “is not easily provoked”, which means "not easily offended”.

Are you living a life of love? Do you manifest in your life the qualities of this spiritual fruit of love? If you do, you will not be easily offended.

A spirit-filled life is one that is not easily angered or insulted. Here is a simple list of questions to check yourself to see if you are truly walking in the Spirit.

How do you react or act when:

1.Your name is spelled wrong or mispronounced or not remembered?
2.You are not recognized?
3.You are not called upon to pray, sing, cook, speak, testify, or lead?
4.You are not elected to the church board of elders or deacons or even on the music or Sunday school committee?
5.You are not chosen as the most creative, most friendly, or cutest?
6.You are just plain forgotten, treated wrongly or rudely?
7.You are not given a raise or promotion?
8.No one seems to like you, or you are lonely and no one seems to care, no one encourages you?

If you react to any of these situations with anger or by being offended or insulted, the Bible says you are not living in the spirit of love.

Let us all deal with this matter in our lives! Let’s put Christ and others first and not think of ourselves and our feeling so much.

The mark of maturity in a Christian life is Christ having first place in our lives and not ourselves!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Be Filled with Zeal

by Charles Spurgeon

Revelation 1:19

If you want to see souls converted, if you want to hear the cry that "the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, "1 if you want to place crowns upon the head of the Savior and sce His throne lifted high, then be filled with zeal. For under God, the way the world will be converted is by the zeal of the church. Every element of grace will do its work, but zeal will be first; prudence, knowledge, patience, and courage will follow in their places, but zeal must lead the charge. It is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful, it is not the extent of your talent, though that is not to be despised, it is your zeal that will do great exploits.

This zeal is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: It draws its vital force from the continued operations of the Holy Spirit in the soul. If our inner life dwindles, if our heart beats slowly before God, we will not know zeal; but if everything inside is strong and vigorous, then we cannot but feel a loving urgency to see Christ's kingdom come, and His will done on earth, even as it is in heaven.

A deep sense of gratitude will nourish Christian zeal. When we reflect on the miry pit from which we were lifted, we find plenty of reason for spending ourselves for God. And zeal is also stimulated by the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of hell, and it cannot sleep: It looks up with anxious gaze to the glories of heaven, and it cannot stay still. It feels that time is short compared with the work to be done, and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord. And it is continually strengthened by remembering Christ's example. He was clothed with zeal as with a cloak. How swift the chariot-wheels of duty went with Him! He never loitered on the way. Let us prove that we are His disciples by displaying the same spirit of zeal.

1Revelation 11:15

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Does it pay to cuss and criticize or to encourage?

Our grandson, DJ (David Joseph Nichols) had a successful 2010 high school baseball season as a junior despite not being able to play on the Varsity team due to being a recent transfer from another high school. This was very encouraging to DJ after coming from his previous school which had a highly developed baseball program where he was allowed little playing time and very little margin of error.

That season at a new school and with new coaches, new life was breathed into DJ. They immediately noticed his skills and potential, as well as his kind, humble, and teachable heart. Finally, he could relax and not play in fear. Instead of being under hard constant criticism and cussed out for falling short of any standard that was expected, DJ was encouraged and given room to grow, while productively being challenged under positive and effective coaching. DJ found joy again in playing the game he loved so much. The more DJ relaxed, the more his natural skills that can't be taught, began to soar.

The entire season DJ was the clean-up hitter, batting 4th in the lineup. Defensively he showed his versatility playing 1st, 3rd, catcher and pitching for the first time in a game, 3 innings in a row. In that particular game, DJ was picked on the spot without notice to relieve the starting pitcher because of his arm strength. Despite the pressure and nerves, DJ calmly came through, throwing mostly strikes and not allowing the other team to score.

Once the season ended, his Batting Average was .472. DJ had 25 hits, including 9 doubles (led the team by far), and 3 triples (tied for the lead on the team). He scored 18 runs and had 23 RBI's. DJ had 14 walks (led the team), and his On-Base Percentage was .606.

His pitching and defensive stats were not recorded, but there is no question he was one of the strongest defensive player. DJ was known for doing the splits off the bases, and getting covered with dirt making dives to stop the ball from getting past him. He always seemed to be covered in red clay!

At the awards banquet, DJ received MVP for the JV team, not just for his stats, but his leadership qualities and character on and off the field. Through it all, DJ remained humble and appreciative of any and every opportunity he had to play the game he is so passionate about. When asked which position he'd rather play, he responded, "I just want to play!" You will never hear him brag about his accomplishments or what he brought to the team, or even gripe or throw an attitude when things didn't go his way. Rather, you heard him encourage his teammates, especially those struggling, and was a positive voice for his team. DJ gained respect as a leader from fellow teammates, and was trusted by the coaches. Although it wasn't an easy journey for him being undermined in the past, DJ always persevered and maintained a respectful attitude. He continued to press on, appreciative of all the adversity he faced up to this point which has helped him become the young man and player he now is.

One of DJ's coaches shared, "DJ is a pleasure to be around on the baseball field, and a great young man." And from another coach, "DJ is a great young man and truly someone I believe can be a leader for us in his senior year on the Varsity."

That summer, DJ was invited to play on an elite showcase travel team, playing at 20 college campuses and in front of pro and college scouts. In his senior year, DJ played against his old school and coaches. He looked forward to shaking their hands as a starting Varsity player, and hoped it would encourage the hearts of these coaches to once again find their joy in this incredible opportunity given to them to invest in the lives of high school players.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Do you have to be Filipino to be nice?

Recently while visiting a friend in a hospital, I ate at the cafeteria. While in line to pay for my food, I noticed a commotion at the front of the line near the cash register. I realized that a couple did not have funds to pay for their food; their credit or debit card did not work and they had no cash. I stepped to the front of the line and offered to include their charges on my bill. However, the cashier said, “No, sir! I will take care of it.”

I found out later that she personally was going to cover their bill, but her supervisor told her that the hospital would pay.

Isn’t that something? This young lady, who probably needed funds herself, offered to pay for the financial needs of an embarrassed, older couple. I thanked her for her kindness and generosity which is typical of Filipinos.

However, we do not need to be Filipino to be nice. Maybe you are Chinese, German, Irish, Ugandan, or whatever background you are as a Christian, let’s reach out to others in the kindness of Christ which opens the door to share the glorious Gospel of salvation in Christ, and in Him alone.

[Footnote: This is one of the reasons why it is important to always carry cash enabling you to help others without hesitation wondering whether you have enough money or not. Just do it!]

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do you work with humble servants?

Let me share two stories of servant leadership:

ACTION USA Director, Rex Lee Carlaw, had just returned from several weeks of ministry in Latin America. He was, of course, tired from many meetings, travel, and now was faced with a huge backlog of mission correspondence with many items needing his attention. However, a friend of his was in need as his elderly father needed assistance going through security at the Seattle airport. Rex received special permission from the airlines to aid this elderly gentleman, so he took off an entire morning to help this man through the check-in for his flight, baggage, security, and on to the plane.

I thought later, “What a tremendous example! This is the kind of friend I would like to be.” Even with a heavy work load, much to accomplish, people to see and telephone, and team members to care for, Rex still took time off to help a friend in need.

I share office space with Nelson Reed, ACTION’s International Director. Most of the time, we are not in the office at the same time because of our various ministries and travels, so this “office sharing” works quite well for us. When we are in the office at the same time and he has a meeting or receives a private phone call, it is quite easy for me to work elsewhere in the building, even the store room, as I dictate correspondence through a voice recorder. I do not use a computer well, so my assistants type my correspondence from recorded mini cassettes onto a computer. However, it is not as easy for Nelson to leave the office as he does his own correspondence on his computer.

Something happened recently that displayed once again what a humble man Nelson is. He told me he would be leaving the office around 3 PM for several appointments, and I would be able to work in the office alone, so at 3 PM I was ready to do some dictation, and Nelson left. After about one hour, I came out of the office and saw Nelson at another small desk working on his notebook computer. He had remembered he had several other things to do which he had not taken care of. I thought, “Here is our International Director moving to a small work station outside his office to work on international matters not wanting to disturb me and my work.” What a humble servant to inconvenience himself not wanting to bother another brother’s work in ministry!

You may say these are very simple incidents. If they are, then why don’t many of us do simple things like these more often? They are wonderful examples to follow.