Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In Ministry -- Start With Orphans!

A pastor of a church mentioned that on one occasion he did not know what do to in ministry. The church was having so many problems he did not where to begin.

In reading James, he came to verse 27 in Chapter One, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27 nasb).

So, he decided to start with these three very simple steps: 1) to care for orphans, 2) to care for widows, and 3) to keep his heart pure.

That is where he started in ministry, and God began to bless and use him in a wonderful way in his church family to the glory of God, not only locally, but also worldwide.

This is a good place for you and I to start today, isn’t it? To care for orphans, widows, and to keep our heart pure.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Truth aLeads to Compassionate Community

by Vishal Mangalwade

Genuine compassion calls us to confront social structures and cultural practices that make people miserable. Atheism destroys compassion by making human beings accidental products of ran¬dom chance in an impersonal universe. This deprives compassion of all moral significance. If nature does not care for a creature too weak and powerless to care for itself, why should we, especially if he or she is of no use to us? Human beings are special only if they are seen as created beings, special to their Creator. If humans are created as image-bearers of the Creator himself, then they are even more special. And if individuals are to relate to the Creator in an intimate, personal relationship and carry out the Creator's will in this world, then they are very special indeed. That is how Jesus saw this blind beggar. "Neither this man nor his parents sinned ... but this happened that the work of God might be dis¬played in his life" (John 9:3).

Because an "unknown" blind beggar is special to God, we must have compassion for him individually. This compassion must be visible in specific acts of mercy, but our compassion for him must go deep enough to create a society that can see that a blind man is a special person. He should not have to live a hand¬-to-mouth, insecure existence until one day he falls sick, becomes too weak to beg, and rots by the roadside to be eaten by beasts, birds, and worms.

A society that cannot see the intrinsic value of a blind beggar is blind to truth. Its blindness needs to be exposed so that it can be transformed into a humane and compassionate community.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Work is Good!

by Vishal Mangalwade

The answer came from historian Lynn White Jr.'s study Medieval Religion and Technology. His pioneering research into the history of technology led him to conclude that it was the Bible that made the medieval West the first civilization in history that did not rest on the backs of sweating slaves.

The first chapter of the Bible presents a God who is a worker, not a meditator. God worked for six days-so must we! To work is godly. The third chapter of the Bible teaches that toil came as a curse upon Adam's sin. Humans became the only species that had to eat of the sweat of their brow. Since toil is a result of sin, salvation includes deliverance from sin as well as toil-from mindless, repetitive labor that requires no choice.

So, why don't Western women haul water or dung on their heads? It is because, while the elite in other cultures used technology for power and pleasure, prestige and torture, Christian monasteries began developing technologies that liberated power¬less individuals from dehumanizing slavery. Toil is dehumanizing because it forces a human being to do what can be done by an ox, a horse, wind, water, or wheels.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is God Glad That Osama bin Laden is Dead?

by John Piper, Desiring God

God's emotions are complex—like yours, only a million times more. Right now, your emotions about bin Laden are not simple, i.e. not single. There are several, and they intermingle. That is a good thing. You are like God in this way. This is a part of what it means to be an image bearer of God.

In response to Osama bin Laden's death, quite a few tweets and blogs have cited the biblical truth that "God does not delight in the death of the wicked." That is true.

It is also true that God does delight in the death of the wicked. There are things about every death that God approves in themselves and things about every death that God disapproves in themselves.

Is God Double-Minded?
This is not double talk. All thoughtful people make such distinctions. For example, if my daughter asks me if I like a movie, I might say yes or no to the same movie. Why? Because a movie can be assessed for its 1) acting, 2) plot, 3) cinematography, 4) nudity, 5) profanity, 6) suspense, 7) complexity, 8) faithfulness to the source, 9) reverence for God, 10) accurate picture of human nature, etc., etc., etc.

So my answer is almost always "yes, in some ways, and no in other ways." But sometimes I will simply say yes, and sometimes no, because of extenuating circumstances.

Here is why I say God approves and disapproves the death of Osama bin Laden:

In one sense, human death is not God's pleasure:
•Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . . For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32).

In another sense, the death and judgment of the unrepentant is God's pleasure:
•Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. (Ezekiel 5:13)
•[Wisdom calls out:] Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you. (Proverbs 1:25-26)
•Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)
•As the Lord took delight in doing you good . . . so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. (Deuteronomy 28:63)
We should not cancel out any of these passages but think our way through to how they can all be true.

God is Not Malicious or Bloodthirsty
My suggestion is that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself not a pleasure to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. The death and suffering considered for itself alone is not his delight.

Rather, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God has pleasure in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory. (For further discussion of God's heart in judgment see the section in The Pleasures of God called "How Is God Like George Washington?", pp. 147-149.)

When Moses warns Israel that the Lord will take pleasure in bringing ruin upon them and destroying them if they do not repent (Deuteronomy 28:63), he means that those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable.

God is not defeated in the triumphs of his righteous judgment. Quite the contrary. Moses says that when they are judged they will unwittingly provide an occasion for God to rejoice in the demonstration of his justice and his power and the infinite worth of his glory (see also Romans 9:22-23).

A Warning
Let this be a warning to us: God is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced. Even on the way to Calvary he had legions of angels at his disposal: "No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord"—of his own good pleasure, for the joy that was set before him.

At the one point in the history of the universe where God looked trapped, he was in charge, doing precisely what he pleased—dying to justify the ungodly like you and me.

(Adapted from The Pleasures of God, pp. 66-74.)

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email:mail@desiringGod.org.