Monday, December 30, 2013

Lots of Things Are Expensive But Not This Camp

Recently I visited a small Grow International Ministries "New Beginnings" campsite just outside Manila. Camps are held for up to 40 children as often as funds are available. As we were leaving, 33 needy children arrived all in one jeepney!  Were the children ever excited!

The cost for this ministry to street and other needy children is only $15 each child for a two-day, one-night camp; a camp in which each child receives kindness, compassion, lots of food, sports, and especially the gospel.

There is an estimated 200,000 street children in the 17 cities that make up Metro Manila. It will take many years to reach them at only 33 at a time, but this little camp (and other ministries) is making a start to the glory of God.

I think one of the goals my wife and I will make for 2014 for our ministry is to trust the Lord for funds to sponsor a camp for 40 children each month ($600). May not seem like much, but in twelve months that is 480 children receiving the gospel and compassionate care. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Do I Read Driscoll?

As I travel and speak, I need to be careful in how I answer questions concerning authors, pastors, and leaders, people have come to almost idolize. One pastor and writer, who I am asked about from my area, is Mark Driscoll. Trying not to offend, I ask them if they are tolerant of others opinions? If they answer yes, then I simply answer that I have never read anything Driscoll has written, or listened to a sermon by him. The reason is that I have met him, had a meal with him, and learned of several controversies he has been involved in (rudeness, crude speech in the pulpit, obsessed with speaking on sex an inappropriate matter, and from my team whom I sent to hear him and would not go back). So why waste time with reading and listening to someone who you would not learn from to be more like Christ? By the way, I hear of controversies often of Driscoll, but never see him quoted!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Obedience, Comfort, Heat and Traffic

One often hears from Christians, "Oh, I could never serve in that city or in that country" and then they list the reasons why. There are too many or too few people, it's too cold or too hot, do not like large cities or small towns, too close or too far from malls. In other words, it seems as if one would only serve the Lord in a certain place if it is comfortable!

For example, the city of Manila: it is hot (today in December, it is about 90 degrees with 100 % humidity), the traffic is the worst in the world (seems like there are 139 cars per inch), and it is the most densely populated world class city with a population of 20-25 million!

To reach this city with its teeming millions in slum areas, the millions of middle class, as well as the thousands and thousands of rich, may be difficult, expensive, and not very comfortable, but obedience to our Lord's Great Commission to take the gospel to all is necessary whether being comfortable or not!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Do You Teach Your Children Manners?

In our church in Seattle (mainly Asian) and here in the Philippines, children are taught manners, to answer when spoken to, to be polite especially to elders, to have a conversation, etc.

This is not so with many other nationalities, even missionary children. We talk about the difficulties missionary children have; well, much of this is simply brought on by not being properly taught by their parents! In learning simple manners (Christ's kindness in action) and immediate obedience, children will have a better opportunity for success in life and growth in holiness. As one learns obedience from his/her parents, it is much easier to obey God in the future.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

$50 Life Application Study Bibles (LASB) for God's Servants in the Philippines for only $12

One of our ministries in the Philippines is encouraging and assisting needy pastors and Christian workers, many of whom lost their bibles and books in the recent typhoon. We have purchased and are shipping 168 LASBs to Manila at a total cost of $1988. This is only $12 per Study Bible. LASBs are given freely at completion of 3- to 4-hour seminar on how to use the Study Bible. Please pray with us for the Lord's provision. We will continue to purchase and ship as the Lord provides. - Doug and Margaret Nichols (Commission To Every Nation)

Friday, December 6, 2013

How Does New Tribes Mission Do It? By Doug Nichols

Over the last 44 years I have networked with New Tribes Mission (NTM) and know many of their missionaries and leaders mainly in the Philippines, Canada, and the US. The following are a few observations:

a. The goal of the 3200 NTM missionaries is to plant churches among the unreached tribal groups worldwide.

b. All the missionaries go through the same training which puts all on the same page with goals, principles and practices. They all speak with the same voice.

c. The training majors on purpose, biblical cohesiveness, and godly character with missionaries being held accountable in these areas.

d. The NTM home offices worldwide take NO administration fees except for less than 1% for a contingency emergency fund. Each home office is responsible to raise its own local funding needs, but not from the funds of the missionaries it serves.

e. Leaders are appointed and voted on by each field and changed as needed. There is no possibility of dictatorship in the mission. According to policy, a county leader can be replaced by the international leadership team.

Results: NTM seems to be growing with the same intensity and passion as in it's early days. If your mission or ministry seems to be stuck and just existing, than perhaps you should seriously and prayerfully emulate some of these NTM policies and procedures, replace most of your leadership and some of your non-functioning missionaries and rebuild for the glory of God!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Trustworthy Saying for Christmas

By Todd Braye

The best of men are men at best, and included amongst all sinners. The category is not reserved for terrorists, drunks, homosexuals, liars, rapists, child abusers, or even big city mayors. Christ, the sinless one, came to save all kinds of sinners, not just the obvious rebels.

“Christmas is for kids.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that in my forty-seven years. Whether school plays, church Christmas concerts, or family gatherings, many December festivities focus on our children. And, of course, who doesn’t spend much energy and hard-earned money on their children (and grandchildren) during ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?’ Marketing strategy banks on the growing expectations of our wee ones. Television specials often target children; as I write I soon expect a deluge of old favourites such as ‘Rudolph’ and ‘Frosty.’ Even the modern day Santa with his flying reindeer and incredible – if not impossible – capacity to deliver to every household in every part of the world every toy ever requested by every boy and girl serves to cater to the fascination, imagination and delight of every child.

Biblically, there are several issues which could be addressed in response to these things. But I limit myself to just one. The statement made by so many – even inside the ranks of the professing church  – that ‘Christmas is for kids’ is terribly misguided. As defined and celebrated by the church, Christmas is not for children per se, but for sinners. After all, though not a biblically instituted observance, it historically has been the annual holiday marking the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And it must be said: the intense focus on kids ironically, if not tragically, eclipses the glory of the incarnation with a shroud of child worship. Nevertheless, the spotlight shines on one particular, special Child! The Apostle Paul writes:

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1Timothy 1:15).

This ‘trustworthy statement’ demands that we note two things.

First, it beckons that we consider the person of Jesus Christ. Space limits what I can say here. However, consider at least this much: Christ Jesus came into the world. He who is the sovereign ruler of the universe became a humble servant. He who is eternal and transcends time entered into and became subject to time. The One through whom and by whom all things were made took the form of that which was made. Vacating the incomprehensible glory of His heavenly and holy throne, exchanging it for an earthly and common feeding trough, Christ, God of very God, took on humanity. By leaving His home, he left majesty for misery, and the dwelling place of righteousness for a world of wickedness. This is how God loved the world: He sent His Son into the world.

Second, this “trustworthy statement” commands that we reflect on the mission of Jesus Christ. He came into the world “to save sinners.” In understanding just who these sinners are, it is intensely instructive for us to consider that Paul, the human writer of these words, considered himself to be “foremost of all.” How could this be? Is it not true that Paul was the human author of thirteen New Testament books, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the will of God (1 Cor. 1:1) and blameless according to that righteousness which is in the Law of Moses (Phil. 3:6)? Is it not true therefore that the Apostle Paul was “a good person?” How could it be that he numbered himself among sinners, even as the “foremost of all?”

When the great apostle penned these words, he was near death.

Doubtlessly, he was a very godly man.  His unflinching devotion to Christ at great, personal cost oozes from the pages of the New Testament. However – let the reader get this – as a blameless, extremely moral and devout Jew, zealous for the Law of Moses and his ancestral traditions, Paul, as the best of the very best of men, formerly blasphemed the name of Christ and persecuted those who loved Christ. Before God lavished His grace upon Paul in conversion, Paul (Saul) “was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3).  Paul knew the depths of his sinfulness. His former opposition to Christ and His church, which he once considered a zealous service for God, was now exceedingly sinful to him.

What is the upshot of this?

Simple. The religious and morally upright are not exempt from sin. The best of men are men at best, and included amongst all sinners. The category is not reserved for terrorists, drunks, homosexuals, liars, rapists, child abusers, or even big city mayors. Christ, the sinless one, came to save all kinds of sinners, not just the obvious rebels. As the Apostle wrote, “All have fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), even the perfect righteousness of Christ (italics added). Needless to say, therefore, is that Christmas is for all without distinction. Christ Jesus came into the world for all kinds of men, and women, and teens. And yes, He came for kids. As any honest parent knows, and admits, kids are sinners, too. At a very early age, we express our selfishness and depravity in a thousand ways; no one teaches us to throw temper tantrums, disobey our parents, or cry until we get what we crave. These are but manifestations of our inherited sin nature, the heart of the matter.

From what does Christ save sinners? He saves them from what He Himself endured. Crucifixion is not the main thing here. The excruciating pain of the nails was no doubt unbearable beyond description. But the mode of death is not the thing. What Christ endured for sinners is divine wrath. He became a curse for us, smitten of God (Isaiah 53:4). Thus, Christ saved a countless multitude not simply from sin and its punishment, but ultimately from God Himself (Romans 3:25; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). But He saved them from Him, however, that they be brought to Him (1 Peter 3:18). What an incredible, joyous salvation! Amazing gift is this, even God Himself! Why?

Out of the ivory palaces,
Into a world of woe,
Only His great eternal love
Made my Savior go.

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. Our children love it. And with warm hearts, we vicariously enjoy it with them. But the holiday is not just for them. We understand that Christmas is for us. 

And we are convinced that the person and mission of Christ is not based upon any myth or cleverly devised tale, but upon historical reality [unlike the notion of some hefty guy in a red suit with a delivery service U.P.S. can only dream of]. This year, do not let any myth cloud your vision of the person and mission of Jesus Christ. “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance,  that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …” (1Timothy 1:15). Trust Him!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Leaders, Wise Up!

"Do not be wise in your own eyes...Wisdom is with those who receive counsel" (Proverbs 3:7; 13:10).

Over the years I have fellowshiped and worked with many pastors, ministry and mission leaders worldwide. Some were wonderful, humble, servant leaders whose ministries were maturing and advancing for the glory of God, but sadly many were not. They were proud "know it alls" taking advice and counsel from no one. They were the boss, in charge, dictators, who made all the decisions.

Our son is a missionary teacher and basketball coach in the Philippines. The team is doing well and at present winning most of their games by a wide margin. His coaching style could well be emulated by Christian leaders. Even though he is the head coach, he requests and receives advice and suggestions, even during a game, from his assistant coaches as well as the players.

Even though he is the "boss," he seeks not to be "wise in his own eyes" to all aspects of the game and, therefore, asks for help in those areas of the game he may not see.

This is a good example for Christian leaders. We need to be humble, willing to listen to others on your staff and team, to be open to other points of view, and even for rebuke for what may seem to others of your ungodly lifestyle, pride and selfishness in ministry.

If the ministry is not maturing and advancing and you are not willing to change, it might be a good time for the board and others on your team to recommend that you step aside for the good of the organization to the glory of God!

Let us seek to be servant leaders; wise in God's ways and wisdom, not in our own!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Does a Poor Man Do?

Here in Manila a friend asked us to help with medicine for his elderly mother living in a little but comfortable house, or what some would call a poor shack. We gave the funds to him or he would go into heavy debt.

I was at the doctor recently regarding an infection. He charged me nothing but the cheapest antibiotic was $22. How would an extremely poor person be able to afford this? For example, this is the monthly income of many poor pastors here in the Philippines.

This morning I read the following, "One who is gracious to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him" (Proverbs 19:17). So don't worry about being helpful to the poor, because the Lord will care for you as "God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help" (Psalm 46:1).