Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sadness in Calcutta

In the late 70’s, ACTION had a missionary couple serving in Calcutta, India, and I would visit them from time to time from Manila. On one occasion we visited the ministry of Mother Teresa and were saddened greatly knowing again that there was no gospel-centered message or activities. It is wonderful that the patients were being cared for, but there was no ministry to the soul from the Bible in preparation for dying.

While the nuns were taking a siesta one day, several Indian believers, missionaries and I were able to visit the patients. We went from bed to bed praying, sharing the gospel and giving them a gospel booklet of the Word of God. We were received with much appreciation. The patients begged us not to leave, but to stay because their souls were so dark, they lived in fear and they all knew they were dying and they were not prepared.

Mother Teresa’s approach was simply to take care of anyone, but to allow them to die in their own faith: Muslim, Hindu, Confucius, Atheists, Christian, Catholic and so forth.

Recently I read the biography written about Pastor John MacArthur. In the book, the author, Ian Murray, shares a similar experience to the one just described:

“Two of the most frequently visited tourist spots were within walking distance from the Mission House, and, with misgivings, they scrambled along sidewalks, between dogs, people, and filthy oozing drains to these locations. Naked children, pleading for money, were on all sides:

Patricia, with her tender heart for the little ones, found it especially difficult to give them nothing. They sensed her sympathy and so clung to her in clumps. We resisted giving them anything on account of urgent advice given to us on how to act in urban centres.

Their first stop was at Mother Teresa's convent where they spent some time with the aged lady whose care for the sick and dying had made her famous. They were impressed with her success in recruiting helpers, with the abundance of medical supplies, but sad at the vacuum where gospel truth was needed. Conversation with Mother Teresa revealed a very vague understanding of Christianity. ‘All my people die beautiful deaths', she assured them. 'I love and respect all religions, but I love m Jesus.' But in a city where Hindus believe Jesus was the seven incarnation of Shiva, and Krishna the eighth, the 'Jesus' was not presented as the only Lord, Savior, and Mediator. Nor had Roman Catholic teaching helped Mother Teresa in that regard. ‘May you enter the heart of Jesus through Mary', she wrote in Bible of one visitor.

If this convent visit was disturbing, still more so was their second stop that afternoon. 'Crushed between the dilapidated buildings of the crowded city, and down an obscure alley next to Mother Teresa's home', they found the temple of Kali, the wife of Shiva, a member of the Hindu trinity of gods (Brama, Vishnu, and Shiva). This appeared to be the religious focal point of Calcutta, and the place where animal sacrifice was carried on every afternoon at 3 pm. Amid noise and incense, demon worship was busily in progress, including the disgusting worship of a male phallus:

Staring Satan's worship cold in the face was a chilling experience-my inside felt icy though I was dripping with the sweat of heat and sickness. To think that Mother Teresa was there and helping people physically but not confronting Satan's hellish domain was sad. It all looks so hopeless and so dishonoring to Christ. I felt I had really seen the kind of idolatry the Old Testament speaks of and there was a form of Christianity tolerating it. Truly these are a people in bondage to fear all their lives.

MacArthur's feelings in the temple of Kali were akin to those of the psalmist when he wrote, 'Indignation has taken hold of me, because of the wicked who forsake your law'” (Psa. 119:53).

John MacArthur (Servant of the Word and Flock) by Iain H. Murray
Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2011 (Pages 100-101)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rules of the House

If you open it -- close it.

If you get it out -- put it up.

If you sleep in it -- make it up.

If you drink out of it -- wash it.

If you take it off -- hang it up.

If you turn it on -- turn it off.

If you drop it -- pick it up.

If it hurts -- comfort it.

If it cries -- love it.

If it needs you -- help it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tell Me the Story One More Time

by Tim Challies

Reading Michael Wittmer’s excellent new book The Last Enemy, I came across a powerful little story that I wanted to share with you. I trust you will enjoy it as I did.

My friend Jeff stopped by the hospital to visit one of his dearest senior saints. Charlotte was in her eighties, but she had been young enough in heart to blossom under Jeff’s ministry. She had paid close attention as Jeff proclaimed the story of God—how the world began with God’s good creation, suffered a cataclysmic fall that ruined us and everything else, is being redeemed by Jesus’ cross and resurrection, and will be consummated when Jesus returns and delivers this world to His Father.

Charlotte said learning God’s story had changed her life. “I get it now,” she told anyone who would listen. “The parts of the Bible make sense when you read them in light of the whole. For the first time in my life, I understand how my salvation fits into the larger picture.”

Now Charlotte was dying. She chatted with her pastor about family, church, and the general quality of hospital food, and then Jeff said a prayer and promised to come see her again.

Jeff was minutes from home when his cell phone rang. It was the floor nurse calling from the hospital.

“Charlotte told me to contact you,” she began. “She said that it’s time for her to die. She told me to tell you not to hurry; she’ll wait until you get here.”

Jeff turned his car around and drove slightly faster than Charlotte had recommended. He feared she would die before he returned, and he prayed God would grant her sufficient stamina to hold on. He need not have worried. When he entered her room, panting from his swift jog from the parking garage, Charlotte called him over to her bed. She took his hand, looked into his eyes, and said, “Pastor, tell me the story one more time.”

For the next twenty minutes, with a heavy but grateful heart, Jeff reviewed the story that had saved their lives. He told Charlotte about their gracious, triune God who created our world from love and for His glory. He reminded her that God put us here as His “image bearers” to take care of this world on His behalf (see Genesis 1:26-28). God intended us to flourish in all of our relationships—with Him, one another, and creation—and we would as long as we rested in His care and obeyed His loving will.

Jeff then described the destruction of the fall and how our rebellion against the one, true, and living God had shat- tered everything we were meant to be. We rejected God’s love, fought with each other, and brought a curse upon the entire creation. We were doomed, unwilling and unable to take the first step toward reconciliation. We were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

Jeff and Charlotte remembered how God refused to let the world end this way, and He sent His Son to rescue us from sin and death. Jesus offered His sinless life in our place, absorbing the wrath of God that we deserved so we could be adopted as the righteous children of God. Our loving Lord was crucified, dead, and buried, but three days later He shocked the world by rising from the dead.

Jesus ascended to heaven where He rules the world and intercedes for us before our merciful Father. He will soon return to make all things new. He will restore our humanity, repairing our relationships with God, each other, and creation. And He will bring joy to the world, far as the curse is found, by abolishing sin, disease, and death. No more tearful goodbyes! Because Jesus lives, we too shall live—with Him, here, glorifying God and enjoying Him forever!

Jeff’s voice cracked and Charlotte’s eyes filled with tears. “It’s true,” she whispered. “I know it’s true.” She smiled, and then cleared her throat and asked, “Pastor, will you call for the nurse?”

When the nurse entered the room, Charlotte said with resolute voice, “Nurse, I’d like a clean robe and I’d like my teeth.” She turned to Jeff and patted his arm, “It’s time. It’s going to be okay.”

Jeff left the room while the nurse dressed Charlotte in a white robe and put her teeth in, and when she was ready, Jeff returned, took her hand, and kissed her on the forehead. As Jeff prayed beside her, Charlotte raised her eyes toward heaven, and with a serenity that comes from knowing how the story ends, she repeated the words “thank you, thank you, thank you.” By the third “thank you” she had fallen asleep, and on the fourth she was waking up in heaven.

Taken from The Last Enemy: Preparing to Win the Fight of Your Life, 2012 by Michael E. Wittmer. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids MI 49501. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Bible Vindicated from the Charge of Sustaining Slavery

By G. Buckingham 1837

If Christ sanctioned slavery, by remaining silent upon the subject, he sanctioned the laws, regulating the system, for there is not in the new testament, a word of condemnation for them. What were those laws? Two or three, were as follows. A slave was struck out of the list of moral agents, and consigned to that of brutes. A slave might, at any time, be killed by his master, without punishment. A slave might be sold twice, by the same master, before he could claim his freedom.
The fact that a practice is not condemned by name, is no reason at all that it is right. Under the argument of our opponents, the midnight gambler, and the Sabbath breaker, may escape rebuke. The owners of theaters, the performers themselves, and those who waste their time and money in nightly attendance upon these demoralizing representations, may still drink the "shed blood" and eat the "broken body" of the crucified Redeemer worthily!! Burglary, counterfeiting, forgery, horse racing and polygamy, are likewise passed by the Saviour and his apostles, without condemnation, except by implication. No christian, can justify any of these practices, on the ground that silence is preserved respecting them. The iniquitous features of every leading vice are condemned, and among others, SLAVERY does not escape the fiery ordeal of the new testament morality. The main characteristics of American slavery, are all made criminal by the new testament.

1. Slave laws allow the separation of man and wife, by the order of the master.

N. T. "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder," Matthew xix.6.

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate" (Matthew 19:6, nasb).

2. Slave laws forbid the slaves from worshiping God by themselves.

N. T. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together," Heb. x. 25.
“Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25, nasb).

3. Slave laws exact labor without wages, in millions of instances.

N. T. "The hire of the laborers which have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth," &c. James, v. 1 to 6.
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you” (James 5:1-6, nasb).

4. Slave laws shut out the knowledge of letters from the mind of the slave.

N. T. Search the scriptures.

5. Southern slavery encourages the stealing of men on the coast of Africa; for though prohibited by the laws of the land, they are still smuggled in.

N. T. "The law was made for murderers, men-slayers, men-stealers," &c. (alluding to Ex. xxi. 16.) classing them among the vilest criminals of the earth.
"He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:16, nasb).

6. Slave laws in North Carolina, make it penal, to give or sell a slave any book, even the bible! In Georgia and Louisiana, a free black may be fined, whipped, imprisoned, and in the latter State, even put to death, for instructing his own children to read the pathway to eternal life!!

N. T. "Woe unto you lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge," Luke, xi. 52
“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52, nasb).

"Ye fathers bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," Ephesians, vi. 4.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesian 6:4, nasb).

7. The New Testament condemns the selling of one's self into slavery, much more, one man selling another. "Ye are not your own: ye are bought."

8. It is the testimony of all candid slave-holders, and we positively know from the very nature of things, that slavery encourages general licentiousness.

N. T. In many places condemns adultery and fornication.

[page 19-21]

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thoughts from a Blood Donor's Table

by Eldon Weishelt

I gave my blood.
Christ gave His.

I gave a pint.
He gave all.

The needle is small, sharp.
The nails were large, dull.

The table soft, relaxful.
The cross rough, painful.

The nurses kind, gentle.
The soldiers cruel, mean.

The crowd applauds my sacrifice.
“They that passed by reviled Him.”

Mine is for 0 positive.
His for positively all.

Mine, at best, will prolong a life for awhile,
His, without doubt, can save all, forever.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What About the Hidden People?

The number of those to be won to Christ in Africa and Asia has more than tripled since 1900. Almost three billion people today have little or no knowledge of Christ and His salvation. Never has the challenge been greater for total, global advance with the Gospel.

Most of those to be reached are often called the “Hidden People”. Why? - Because major cultural, racial, linguistic, social and other barriers “hide” them from the eyes and the concerned efforts of most evangelizing Christians. For example, if every Christian were to win his or her culturally near neighbor to Christ, 2.5 to 3 billion non-Christians would still remain totally untouched because they live outside the cultural home-base of every active Christian in the world.

Where can some of these Hidden People be found? – Consider just a few illustrations:

•The Philippines is a country of over 100 million people, with as few as three million true followers of Christ. There are over 24,000 small towns without a local evangelical church. These small towns are hidden! There are also 1.5 million street children.

•In Japan the total Christian population is only 1%, most of who live in cities. But in thousands of towns and fishing villages there is absolutely no Christian witness, and no missionaries to reach them. They are hidden!

•There are 500,000 towns and villages with no gospel witness in Europe.

•For every Christian in Thailand there are 999 Buddhists, most of who have never once heard of Christ.

•There are 160 million street children worldwide and 143 million orphans. Most are “hidden” from the priorities of many church planting ministries and missions.

•For every 10,000 villages in India 9,950 have no Christian community whatsoever. Furthermore, less than 100 of its 3,000 castes and tribes have any Christians in them.

•Despite the strong Christian movement in Latin America there are still many Hidden People. In the jungle lowlands there are at least 600 small primitive tribes with over 5 million. Many have yet to hear of Christ.

•*The almost one billion Muslims are concentrated in 44 countries and dispersed throughout 40 others. In the face of such diversity and with such numbers to reach there are less than 2000 evangelical missionaries working with them. Hidden!

Thousands of new missionaries should be specially trained and sent out for evangelism and discipleship among each of the 16,700 culture groupings where no churches exist!

The needs around us should always be seen in this perspective. Although we need missionaries on all six continents, not all six are equal either in resources, population or in present opportunities to know Christ.

To say that everyone is important and equal before God leads to an inescapable conclusion: those with no Christian witness culturally near to them, as well as geographically near, must have more of our concentrated efforts to reach them. For many Christians around the world these “Hidden People” must become our highest priority, or they will never be reached!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pray for Missionaries: Seven Prayer Tools from the Apostle Paul

1. Pray for Open Doors
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned… Colossians 4:2-3, nasb).
Open doors can’t be taken for granted. Many missionaries work in difficult-access countries or in areas that are resistant to the Gospel. But “open doors” include more than access to nations and people groups. Individuals’ hearts also need to be opened and receptive to God’s truth.
•Pray that God will open doors of ministry, blessing partnerships’ and friendships.
•Pray that those who serve will be lead by the Holy Spirit and recognize open-door opportunities.
•Pray that God will lead His people past the barriers to hearts prepared to receive His Word.

2. Pray for Boldness in Witness
“…and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel…” (Ephesians 6:19, nasb).

Missionaries are regular people who fear pain and rejection as much as anyone else. When faced with opposition, they need God’s strength to help them stand firm.
•Pray that missionaries will have boldness to overcome the fear of embarrassment or failure.
•Pray that the Spirit will provide them with words that communicate effectively in other cultures and languages.
•Pray that God will thwart the opposition of evil forces so the mystery of the Gospel can be known.

3.Pray that God’s Word Will Spread
“Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you…” (2 Thes. 3:1, nasb)

Obstacles must be removed to allow God’s Word to spread rapidly and freely. Removing obstacles implies resolute resistance in spiritual warfare. Just as Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ arms in the battle against the Amalekites (Exodus 17:12), you can support the weary arms of missionaries through your prayers.

•Pray for strength and stamina as missionaries encounter antagonistic spiritual forces. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
•Pray that Satan, who is determined to obstruct the spread of the Gospel, will be resisted. (James 4:7)
•Pray that God’s Word will be indeed spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes.

4. Pray for protection
“…and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2, nasb).

Open doors in difficult-access countries may also open the possibility of danger and personal harm for missionaries who enter those areas. People resistant to the Gospel sometimes express their resistance to direct and harmful ways.

•Pray that God will keep the Christian workers safe from those who might seek to harm them.
•Pray that God will change the hearts of those who are resistant to His word and to people who share the Gospel.

5. Pray for Their Ministry

“…that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints…” (Romans 15:31, nasb).
Cooperation and partnership are essential to ministry and vital to the progress of the work.

•Pray that the missionary’s ministry and attitude will be worthy of acceptance.
•Pray that colleagues and fellow believers will be supportive.

6. Pray for God’s Guidance
“…so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God”. Romans 15:32, nasb)
Many missionaries travel frequently both nationally and internationally. Their mode of transportation varies from country to country and often involves stressful situations.
•Pray for clear guidance from God regarding travel decisions.
•Pray for protection during their travels.
•Pray for adequate provisions and permission to travel where it’s necessary.

7. Pray for Refreshment

“…and find refreshing rest in your company Romans” (15:32, nasb).

Missionaries deal with many of the same stresses you face in life, like overwhelming workloads, conflicts in relationships and financial uncertainties. Often, however, missionaries struggle with these issues alone, without the fellowship and support of other Christians. Living and working cross-culturally adds an additional element that can deplete their emotional, spiritual and physical vitality.
•Pray that God will provide opportunities for missionaries in remote or difficult areas to spend time with other believers.
•Pray that God will provide time of peace and relaxation to refresh His workers.
•Pray that God will encourage missionaries with the knowledge that people back home care about their emotional well-being.

Partners in prayer
The apostle Paul was a missionary and s man of prayer. He prayed for those without Christ, for the believers and for the new churches established under his ministry.

He also asked the believers to pray for him: “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me…” (Romans 15:30, nasb).

Paul knew prayer would bring results: “…you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many…” (2 Corinthians 1:11, nasb).

In his letter, Paul gave specific prayer requests for which believers should pray. As a prayer partner with those who are called to go, you, too, will have an impact that can reach around the world. Paul’s prayer requests can serve as a tool for praying with effectiveness and understanding. (adapted by Doug Nichols from article by SIL)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seven Billion People: Will Everyone Please Relax?

Population is still technically growing, but according to the United Nation Population Division’s numbers, that growth is slowing dramatically.

The United Nations Population Division (UNPD) is the most reliable source of population statistics in the world, which is why we use their numbers for our videos. And, according to the UNPD, population growth will continue to slow down over the next few decades. In fact, if current trends persist, our growth will halt right around 8 billion by 2045. After that, our numbers will start to fall off, slowly at first, and then faster.

If you find this whole idea counterintuitive, don't worry! You're not alone. At first glance, it really does seem like population is skyrocketing. That’s because we're still adding a billion people every few decades . . . and a billion people is a lot of people. But the way we can tell that population is not ballooning out of control is precisely the fact that we’re only adding a billion people each time. And soon, we won’t even be adding that many.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Missionaries to Serve with ACTION Among 8-9 million Filipinos Who Are Overseas

Singapore (130,000) – to open a counseling center to help, counsel, evangelize, and disciple Filipinos

Hong Kong – at least 53 churches with 21,000 believers among the total 173,000 Filipinos. Missionaries are needed to help train leaders and encourage churches, to help prepare evangelism and discipleship materials, and help advise and counsel needy Filipinos. An airport evangelism meeting for 70-100 Filipinos daily.

Malaysia – 226, 000 Filipinos
Spain – 43,000 Filipinos
United Kingdom – 70,000 Filipinos
Austria – 6000 Filipinos
Saudi Arabia – over one million Filipinos! Some say as high as 50,000 evangelicals!
Kuwait -- 400,000 Filipinos
Hong Kong -- 400,000 Filipinos
Australia --100,000 Filipinos

Over 7.4 million Filipino Diaspora worldwide

There is the wonderful opportunity to help train and encourage Filipino Christians to reach out to other Filipinos in these countries and also to those with whom they work.

Funds earned have helped the economy in the Philippines, but at what cost?

700,000 Filipino workers leave Philippines yearly!

The Filipino Seafarers – send English and Tagalog tracts and literature to ACTION Seafarer missionaries:
John & Jean Van Hemert
Hans & Trudy Uittenbosch

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pray and Stay Away

There are some people who may not like you. These may even be relatives, people whom you seem to irritate simply by being in the same room.

As you pray for and reach out to them in kindness and love, sometimes it might be advisable to limit your time with them and to simply “pray and stay away.”

This is the same principle as confronting some difficult situations with family, friends, or coworkers. As you graciously confront anger, laziness, give advice, or even a gently rebuke that is not accepted, then it might be best to simply step back, trust God, but continuing to pray for God to handle the matter for His glory. We simply “pray and stay away.”