Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Mormons Have Sabotaged Christmas

The Mormons have pulled out all the stops in producing two of the most beautiful and moving Christmas videos ever. One called, "The World's Largest Nativity" and the other simply, "The Nativity." Both are Christian in nature but both end with an advertisement of The Church of Latter Day Saints.. The Mormons are seeking to portray themselves as Christians, when their doctrine (teaching) is far from anything of the true Christian faith of salvation through Christ alone which is by grace through faith alone. Mormonism is a false teaching not believing in the Lord God of the Bible, nor do they believe in Christ as the one and only way of salvation. They believe that one can only go to heaven by following the false teaching of Joseph Smith and the doctrine of the covenants, a system of works salvation. Mormons need the gospel of the Lord Jesus alone for salvation!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

33 Years Remaining Faithful

This morning Nick Valdomar, a worker at New Tribes Guesthome in Manila told Margaret and me that it was 33 years ago this week that he graduated in the second class of boys at the Second Mile Discipleship and Vocational Center, a ministry began two years before.

Second Mike was built by volunteers and directed by Forest Holden, with the underprivileged and street boys discipled by Pastor Loreto Tarlit. 

After graduation, Nick traveled with missionary Forest Holden to a southern island to help build a hospital for our missionaries working with the Ati Tribe. 

Nike has worked with various ministries in skilled carpentry over the years supporting his growing family and now with several grandchildren.

He has worked with New Tribes Mission for several years now building furniture for the new five story guesthouse and maintaining the facilities of several buildings.

We hear often from New Tribes missionaries, "What would we ever do without Nick?"

Nick comes to work early each morning, and as he knows I really enjoy pandesal (special Philippine bread) with my coffee, he brings me this special bread as I read in the quite lobby at 6am in my morning time in the Word.

Margaret and I have tried to serve Nick and many others here over the years in the Philippines, but they always outdo us!

Praise the Lord for the ministry of missionary Forest Holden and Pastor Loreto Tarlit in investing in the lives of street boys at Second Mike, who have become engineers, Bible school professors, pastors, builders, and in the life of Nike, who 33 years ago was one of the many young boys of Manila with no hope, but Christ!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Keep In Touch!

One morning 5 am this week, I had coffee and Philippine pandesal (the best breakfast bread in the world) with a tribal missionary of over 25 years. He is presently finishing a commentary in the tribal language and teaches in churches throughout the mountains five hours northeast of Manila. He walks barefoot village to village with the Word of God.

I asked if it was hard work. He answered yes, but it was vital to keep in touch with each little church, to disciple them and encourage them. He then said sadly, that he wished his home church, which had supported him and his family for 25 years, but had only personally contacted him by letter, phone or email only three times in all these years; ONLY THREE TIMES IN 25 YEARS!

How are you in your personal contacts? Family, friends, organizations, etc, that you in some way should be in touch with; with a word of encouragement and concern or friendship in Christ's name?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How Did You Come to Come to Faith in Christ?

Recently I asked a short term worker from the US to the Philippines how she came to Christ? She thought for a moment and in a boring tone said, "I don't really know. I've always been religious but about two years ago I decided to get serious about God." The conversation then ended as she changed the subject.

That same day I asked a little worker at the guesthouse, where we are staying while in the Philippines, the same question. In the midst of her work she immediately answered very enthusiastically, "Oh, it was a long five-month period. Our family in the providence was very poor, and I had to work as a young girl to help support the family. The wife of the boss became a Christian and started a Bible study for the workers. I did not want to go, but to keep my job I thought I had to go. We studied the Bible April, May, June, July, and August. The Lord began to open my heart to the truth of the Gospel through His Word and on September 25, I trusted Christ as Savior!" She glowed as she spoke and almost bounced up and down! Now that is a testimony that draws others to the Truth. 

How is yours?

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Would You Do?

What would you do if you and your team planned a camp for 75 underprivileged street children of Manila but 280 boys, ages 10 to 18,  showed up? Would you send them home? If so, which ones?

What would you do if you planned a Christmas jail party for 10 prisoners who had trusted Christ the previous year, and you became aware that there would be about 220 other prisoners listening in and watching from their near-by jail cells? Would you invite them also?

What would you do if you published a Gospel ad in a secular magazine with funds to handle follow up for 100 people but you received 3000 letters? The letters not only requested more information about the Word of God, but many asked for someone to meet with them for a Bible study in their home?

What would you do if you and a team were conducting a midnight ministry at two in the morning for 150 children and a little child prostitute 9 years of age came to faith in Christ? Would you let her remain with the lady she was living with in the park, the lady who was selling her to men?

What would you do if a man was dying of heart trouble in a small village in the central part of the Philippines, and the only way to save his life was to fly him to Manila as soon as possible? You could not get him to a main airport which was 3 hours away. The only way to get him out was to fly him from a small landing strip nearby but this would involve leasing a private plane at a cost of $4000, money which you did not have? What would you do?

Hard decisions? Let me mention a few more:

What would you do if one of your follow-up workers visiting a small boy who had trusted Christ the week before in a camp became aware that the boy had no food in his house and had not eaten since the camp? His sister had died the previous week of tuberculosis, his father had just abandoned the family, his mother had TB, and they had no money for medicine. Would you close your Bible (as the follow-up worker did) and take the family to buy some food and medicine, feed them and then have the Bible study? I hope you would, but what would you do if you found out the follow-up worker had used all of his own personal money and the organization had no money to repay him?

What would you do if you were already swamped with nearly 8000 people who trusted Christ during the year and yet more people were crying out for follow-up, for Bible studies, for counsel, for help?

These are just some of the situations we were faced with almost daily in the Philippines! Some may not be as dramatic as these, but many are. What would you do?

It is very easy for people to say, “Well, all you have to do is say 'No.' " We would like to challenge these people to come to the Philippines (or India or Uganda or Mexico or Colombia), join a missions team, and be in a position to say “No."
We would like to encourage many to participate with many excellent missions in dealing with problems like these. Additional missionaries are especially needed to reach out to others in the name of Christ, to ask Him to give wisdom in dealing with situations like these, and encourage men and women to trust Him as Savior.

The need is overwhelming and the opportunities are staggering. What can we do?…All we can!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Bible

Casper ten Boom, the father of the well- known Corrie ten Boom, was a watch maker and a real student of the Bible.

He had a study group meeting in his home made up of philosophers, agnostics, atheists, fundamentalists and liberals all with a quest for knowledge.

Without formal educational training, Casper ten Boom could debate the most brilliant with the book, the Bible, he knew so well. He battled some, converted others, and had the honest respect of all.

None were able to escape his direct answers to complex problems. He would always say when the arguments became involved, "The Bible says!"

Mr. ten Boom had nothing against philosophy, but believed in a philosophy of living based upon the Word of God. 
- In My Father's House (pages 111-112)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thank God Without Ceasing

by John Hendryx

We affirm with the Bible that whosoever believes in Jesus Christ (without exception) will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). That has never been at issue. Problem is, no one is naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel, apart from regenerating grace (Deut 29:4, 30:6; Ezek 36:26; John 1:13; 5:21, 6:63-65, Rom 8:7, 1 Cor 2:14). Indeed, God commands all people everywhere to repent and believe (Acts 17:30), so it is man's responsibility, but men naturally love darkness, hate the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19, 20) So even after God has given all men opportunity, what is amazing is not that He saves only some of us, but rather, why He saves any of us at all. Even though man is so obstinate, God still yet extends his mercy to us (Rom 9:16). Though no one will come to Jesus on their own, the Spirit still has mercy on a great many stiff-necked ill-deserving sinners... In love (Eph 1:4, 5), He opens their blind eyes, unplugs their deaf ears and turns their hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. Some get justice, others get mercy, but no one gets injustice. So if, by the grace of God, you believe the gospel... thank God for Jesus who provided EVERYTHING we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. Thank God without ceasing.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hospitality and Caring for the Needs of Others

As a Christian, do you care about the needs and comfort of others? If you are a pastor, elder, church leader, or missionary, this is an especially important question to answer.

Let us look at a few “when” questions:

When you are eating with others, do you wait until all are served before you begin eating? Do you pass the food and help others or only yourself? Do you teach your fellow workers, family, and children these basics? In a restaurant are you polite and friendly to the workers and do you tip well?

When travelling, do you make sure others have a seat and that women, children, and the elderly are helped and cared for? Do you let others go first? Are you especially helpful to people from other countries? (This especially opens the door for the Gospel.)

When talking to others, are you gracious and kind? Do you say things like, “How are you today?” “Thank you.” “I appreciate your help.” “What is your name?” “You really do well.”

When sharing your home, do not keep your guest guessing. Do you show them where the towels, soap, and shampoo are? Are there places to hang clothes in the bathroom so they do not have to put their clothes on the floor? Do they know where the tea and coffee pots are? Might they have special needs? Be careful about putting them alone with a member of the opposite sex.

“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” (Colossians 3:12-13, nasb).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Do You Have Any Spoons You Need To Return?

A few years ago, when my father-in-law, Walter Jespersen, could still drive, we took several people out for Sunday dinner at a restaurant called The Country Buffet about eight miles from our home.

When Dad was going through the line, he put his knife, fork, spoon and napkin in the upper pocket of his suit coat while he served the food onto his plate.

Later that day, he noticed the spoon from the restaurant in his coat pocket and was very bothered by this. He had used the other utensils but had forgotten about the spoon.

I told him that we would return the spoon later in the week when we passed by the restaurant, or we could mail it to them. However, the next day, Dad was still very bothered that he had taken the spoon. He decided to drive (even though driving had become very difficult) to the restaurant to return the spoon and apologize.

Dad was always the same.  He continued to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ. Being a godly man, he was not overly sensitive, but was sensitive to truth, error and what it takes to live a godly life in an uncaring, wicked world. He is the kind of man we should all emulate!

So, I have asked myself a question quite often, “Do I have any spoons to return?” In other words, is there anything I need to take care of today? Do I need to apologize, return a favor, minister to others, show graciousness, display goodness, or share the gospel? What do I need to take care of today so that I will be more like Jesus?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our Working Definition of Counseling

 by Paul Tautges.

The definition that we work to develop here at Counseling One Another is as follows: Biblical counseling is an intensely focused and personal aspect of the discipleship process, whereby believers come alongside one another for three main purposes: first, to help each other consistently apply Scriptural theology to life in order to experience victory over sin through obedience to Christ; second, by warning each other, in love, of the consequences of sinful actions; and third, by leading each other to make consistent progress in the ongoing process of biblical change in order that we may become spiritually reproductive followers of Jesus Christ. This definition describes the aim of biblical discipleship. Basically, biblical counseling is helping one another, within the body of Christ, to grow to maturity in Him. Read more …

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Don't Adopt

by Dr. Russell Moore

If you want your “dream baby,” do not adopt or foster a child: buy a cat and make-believe. Adopting an orphan isn’t ordering a consumer item or buying a pet. Such a mindset hurts the child, and countless other children and families. Adoption is about taking on risk as cross-bearing love.

For years, I’ve called Christian churches and families to our James 1:27 mandate to care for widows and orphans in their distress, to live out the adoption we’ve received in the gospel by adopting and fostering children. At the same time, I’ve maintained that, while every Christian is called to care for orphans and widows, not every Christian is called to adopt or foster. As a matter of fact, there are many who, and I say this emphatically, should not.

Love of any kind brings risk, and, in a fallen world, brings hurt. Simeon tells our Lord’s mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, that a sword would pierce her heart. That’s true, in some sense, for every mother, every father. Even beyond that, every adoption, every orphan, represents a tragedy. Someone was killed, someone left, someone was impoverished, or someone was diseased. Wrapped up in each situation is some kind of hurt, and all that accompanies that. That’s the reason there really is no adoption that is not a “special needs” adoption; you just might not know on the front end what those special needs are.

We live in a time in which our commitments have become the opportunity often for simply a narcissistic self-realization. Weddings have become events for planners and photographers putting on what seems to be a state dinner honoring the “love of the couple.” Children often become props in a life of parents who are seeking to grasp whatever they believe the world owes them. It’s easier to pull off that kind of an illusion of self-centrality with your engagement photos and wedding party than it is with children, though. Children are alive. Children are persons, with individuality that can’t ultimately be suppressed. Children, of all sorts, are, by definition, unpredictable. Children shatter your life-plan. Adoption certainly does.

It’s worth it.

But Jesus tells us we ought to know that a king going into battle must measure his troops, a tower-builder must count the expenses of the project (Lk. 14:28-31). Those who see adoption as a warm, sentimental way of having a baby are mistaken and dangerous. There are far too many who plunge in without counsel, without a commitment to fidelity no matter what. They search around for a baby who fits their specifications. And babies never fit your specifications…at least not when they grow up.

If what’s behind all of this isn’t crucified, war-fighting, eyes-open commitment, you are going to wind up with a child who is twice orphaned. He or she will be abandoned the first time by fatherlessness and the second time by the rejection of failing to live up to the expectations of parents who had no business imposing such expectations in the first place.

We need a battalion of Christians ready to adopt, foster, and minister to orphans. But that means we need Christians ready to care for real orphans, with all the brokenness and risk that comes with it. We need Christians who can reflect the adopting power of the gospel, which didn’t seek out a boutique nursery but a household of ex-orphans who were found wallowing in our own blood, with Satan’s genes in our bloodstreams.

If what you like is the idea of a baby who fulfills your needs and meets your expectations, just buy a cat. Decorate the nursery, if you’d like. Dress it up in pink or blue, and take pictures. And be sure to have it declawed.

Source: http://erlc.com/article/dont-adopt

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why Such Prejudice against Jewish People?

There seems to be an onslaught of racism against Jews worldwide. It is tolerated and even encouraged by leaders especially in Europe and the Middle East. Even in the US and Canada, news services seem to always take the side of the Palestinians who have sworn the destruction of their neighbor Israel. It is hard to imagine how today the nations of the world would help and encourage any country which lives to destroy another.

Recently in the brutal murder of five Jews in Jerusalem by Palestinians, Muslims worldwide danced in the street with joy.

Peace cannot be achieved if one country or group lives to destroy the other!

As Christians, what are we to do in the midst of such wickedness?

We are to pray for peace and truth and the spread of the Gospel, for the Gospel is for all, wicked or not.As Christians, we need to, we must, require and expect our government and leaders to lead and speak truth, and not to allow untruth to spread like gangrene.

The bottom line however, is that there is no true peace apart from the Gospel of Christ. Peace only by changed hearts by Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween and the Dark Side — What Should Christians Think?

by Dr. Albert Mohler

Over a hundred years ago, the great Dutch theologian Hermann Bavinck predicted that the 20th century would “witness a gigantic conflict of spirits.” His prediction turned out to be an understatement, and this great conflict continues into the 21st century.

The issue of Halloween presses itself annually upon the Christian conscience. Acutely aware of dangers new and old, many Christian parents choose to withdraw their children from the holiday altogether. Others choose to follow a strategic battle plan for engagement with the holiday. Still others have gone further, seeking to convert Halloween into an evangelistic opportunity. Is Halloween really that significant?

Well, Halloween is a big deal in the marketplace. Halloween is surpassed only by Christmas in terms of economic activity. According to David J. Skal, “Precise figures are difficult to determine, but the annual economic impact of Halloween is now somewhere between 4 billion and 6 billion dollars depending on the number and kinds of industries one includes in the calculations.”

Furthermore, historian Nicholas Rogers claims that “Halloween is currently the second most important party night in North America. In terms of its retail potential, it is second only to Christmas. This commercialism fortifies its significance as a time of public license, a custom-designed opportunity to have a blast. Regardless of its spiritual complications, Halloween is big business.”

Rogers and Skal have each produced books dealing with the origin and significance of Halloween. Nicholas Rogers is author of Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night. Professor of History at York University in Canada, Rogers has written a celebration of Halloween as a transgressive holiday that allows the bizarre and elements from the dark side to enter the mainstream. Skal, a specialist on the culture of Hollywood, has written Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween. Skal’s approach is more dispassionate and focused on entertainment, looking at the cultural impact of Halloween on the rise of horror movies and the nation’s fascination with violence.

The pagan roots of Halloween are well documented. The holiday is rooted in the Celtic festival of Samhain, which came at summer’s end. As Rogers explains, “Paired with the feast of Beltane, which celebrated the life-generating powers of the sun, Samhain beckoned to winter and the dark nights ahead.” Scholars dispute whether Samhain was celebrated as a festival of the dead, but the pagan roots of the festival are indisputable. Questions of human and animal sacrifices and various occultic sexual practices continue as issues of debate, but the reality of the celebration as an occultic festival focused on the changing of seasons undoubtedly involved practices pointing to winter as a season of death.

As Rogers comments: “In fact, the pagan origins of Halloween generally flow not from this sacrificial evidence, but from a different set of symbolic practices. These revolve around the notion of Samhain as a festival of the dead and as a time of supernatural intensity heralding the onset of winter.

How should Christians respond to this pagan background? Harold L. Myra of Christianity Today argues that these pagan roots were well known to Christians of the past. “More than a thousand years ago Christians confronted pagan rites appeasing the lord of death and evil spirits. Halloween’s unsavory beginnings preceded Christ’s birth when the druids, in what is now Britain and France, observed the end of summer with sacrifices to the gods. It was the beginning of the Celtic year and they believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves.”

Thus, the custom of wearing costumes, especially costumes imitating evil spirits, is rooted in the Celtic pagan culture. As Myra summarizes, “Most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to the old pagan rites and superstitions.”

The complications of Halloween go far beyond its pagan roots, however. In modern culture, Halloween has become not only a commercial holiday, but a season of cultural fascination with evil and the demonic. Even as the society has pressed the limits on issues such as sexuality, the culture’s confrontation with the “dark side” has also pushed far beyond boundaries honored in the past.

As David J. Skal makes clear, the modern concept of Halloween is inseparable from the portrayal of the holiday presented by Hollywood. As Skal comments, “The Halloween machine turns the world upside down. One’s identity can be discarded with impunity. Men dress as women, and vise versa. Authority can be mocked and circumvented, and, most important, graves open and the departed return.”

This is the kind of material that keeps Hollywood in business. “Few holidays have a cinematic potential that equals Halloween’s,” comments Skal. “Visually, the subject is unparalleled, if only considered in terms of costume design and art direction. Dramatically, Halloween’s ancient roots evoke dark and melodramatic themes, ripe for transformation into film’s language of shadow and light.”

But television’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (which debuted in 1966) has given way to Hollywood’s “Halloween” series and the rise of violent “slasher” films. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff have been replaced by Michael Myers and Freddy Kruger.

This fascination with the occult comes as America has been sliding into post-Christian secularism. While the courts remove all theistic references from America’s public square, the void is being filled with a pervasive fascination with evil, paganism, and new forms of occultism.

In addition to all this, Halloween has become downright dangerous in many neighborhoods. Scares about razor blades hidden in apples and poisoned candy have spread across the nation in recurring cycles. For most parents, the greater fear is the encounter with occultic symbols and the society’s fascination with moral darkness.

For this reason, many families withdraw from the holiday completely. Their children do not go trick-or-treating, they wear no costumes, and attend no parties related to the holiday. Some churches have organized alternative festivals, capitalizing on the holiday opportunity, but turning the event away from pagan roots and the fascination with evil spirits. For others, the holiday presents no special challenges at all.

These Christians argue that the pagan roots of Halloween are no more significant than the pagan origins of Christmas and other church festivals. Without doubt, the church has progressively Christianized the calendar, seizing secular and pagan holidays as opportunities for Christian witness and celebration. Anderson M. Rearick, III argues that Christians should not surrender the holiday. As he relates, “I am reluctant to give up what was one of the highlights of my childhood calendar to the Great Imposter and Chief of Liars for no reason except that some of his servants claim it as his.”

Nevertheless, the issue is a bit more complicated than that. While affirming that make-believe and imagination are part and parcel of God’s gift of imagination, Christians should still be very concerned about the focus of that imagination and creativity. Arguing against Halloween is not equivalent to arguing against Christmas. The old church festival of “All Hallow’s Eve” is by no means as universally understood among Christians as the celebration of the incarnation at Christmas.

Christian parents should make careful decisions based on a biblically-informed Christian conscience. Some Halloween practices are clearly out of bounds, others may be strategically transformed, but this takes hard work and may meet with mixed success.

The coming of Halloween is a good time for Christians to remember that evil spirits are real and that the Devil will seize every opportunity to trumpet his own celebrity. Perhaps the best response to the Devil at Halloween is that offered by Martin Luther, the great Reformer: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.”

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther began the Reformation with a declaration that the church must be recalled to the authority of God’s Word and the purity of biblical doctrine. 

With this in mind, the best Christian response to Halloween might be to scorn the Devil and then pray for the Reformation of Christ’s church on earth. Let’s put the dark side on the defensive.

Source: http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/10/31/halloween-and-the-dark-side-what-should-christians-think/

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

11 Objections on Giving to the Poor Answered by Jonathan Edwards

One of the best sermons of all time is Jonathan Edwards’s “The Duty of Christian Charity: Explained and Defended.” In it, he argues that helping the poor is one of the highest duties of the Christian. It is not a just a small duty, but a great duty — and even heaven and hell lie in the balance with how we respond to the poor (Matthew 25: 41-46). Further, Christians are not just to help the poor from a little bit of their surplus, but are to be abundant, liberal, and utterly generous in giving to the poor (Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Psalm 37:21, 25-26; 112:5; Proverbs 11:24-25; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7; 9:6-11).

Edwards not only goes into all the passages which command helping the poor as “one of the three chief duties of true religion” (Micah 6:8; Matthew 22:23; 1 John 3:17-19), but also all the commands to do this with great generosity. Then, he goes into the vast promises that God makes to those who help the poor. The promises Edwards outlines are amazing and incredible (Deuteronomy 15:10; Psalm 37:25-26; Proverbs 11:24-25; 12:9; 19:17; 28:27; Ecclesiastes 11:1-2, 6; Isaiah 32:8; Luke 6:35-36; 12:32-34; 14:13-26; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11), and show that the ultimate foundation and motive for helping the poor is not only love but also faith – faith in God to fulfill his promises. (Thus, refusal to help the poor reveals not only a lack of love for people, but also lack of faith.)

Edwards argues that “God, in his providence, generally smiles upon and prospers those men who are of a liberal, charitable, bountiful spirit,” whereas “God has threatened to follow with is curse those who are uncharitable to the poor [consider Proverbs 21:3; Ezekiel 16:49].” In calling Christians to take seriously these promises that God makes to generosity, he encourages us to remember these things.

[Summary by Matt Perman]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Four Hundred (400) Single Women Missionaries Needed!

Street children in the Philippines initially feel safer with women than with men when approached on the street with the gospel and compassionate care. There is an estimated 200,000 street children in Metro Manila! If a single women missionary (age 21-64) worked with 500 of these children (of the 200,000), there is, therefore, a need of 400 missionaries / Christian workers. Perhaps the Lord will lead you to apply to Christian Growth Ministries (Rosely Fornoles, CEO; email: rosely@cgm.ph), GROW International (Mike Bucher, Director; email: grow.asia@gmail.com) or Action International Ministries (Jeff Anderson, Children's Director; email: jeff.anderson@actionintl.org) to serve with needy street children in the Philippines. You would need to trust the Lord for your monthly personal support and ministry expense and be sent by an evangelical church(es).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Four Hundred Ten (410) Older Men [Pastoral Trainer/Encourager (PTEs)] Needed for Training and Encouraging Needy Filipino Pastors

In the Philippines there is an estimated 41,000 untrained / undertrained pastors. Most live in the rural areas earning less than $20 monthly. Many have no books or study bibles for study for ministry or personal growth. They have little or no help from their small local church and need much encouragement and training. Each PTE (Pastoral Trainer/Encourager), age 40-75, could work out of major populated areas in mentoring, giving seminars, holding retreats and conferences for local pastors and in the rural areas beyond. For one PTE to work with 100 needy pastors, there is a need for 410 PTEs for the Philippines. For more information, contact Bruce Ingram of Action International (email: bruce.w.ingram@gmail.com) or Mike Bucher of GROW International (email: grow.asia@gmail.com).

As all missionaries, each PTE missionary will need to raise personal monthly support and ministry expense and be sent by an evangelical church(es).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Not Just A Soup Kitchen

Not Just A Soup Kitchen is an excellent "how to" book on local church mercy ministries, and was a pleasure to read on recent flight from Seattle to Atlanta. Written by David Apple, the director of the ACTS Ministry of Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia, and published by CLC Publications. The book also gives excellent guidelines for the role of the deacon in a local church in mercy ministries. One chapter gives the excellent history of the biblical role of the deacon which was fully developed by the reformer John Calvin (what a tremendous encouraging historical example!). Was disappointed in the use of quotes by Catholic Henry Nouwen, however the guidelines for mercy ministries is still exceptional and will be useful in all evangelical churches. Wonderful illustrations of working with the needy. Great book. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Encouragement of Others

Encourage people in the Gospel, to carry on, to aim high, to stand firm, to please God, and to look ahead to the glory of God.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Not Good!

Why do some churches emphasize one area of the world and certain types of ministry for missions over others? 

The local church is to have a burden and ministry to the world, not just a particular country or type of ministry. This limits the work of the Holy Spirit in calling people from the church to anywhere in the world. 

Yes, missions can focus on particular areas, but not the local church!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Is Ministry to Children Important?

The Philippines has over 100 million people with the majority being 15 years and under.

Why not more emphasis in the church and missions for more ministry to them? Estimated 1.5 million street children throughout the country and who knows how many orphans! 

Pray that God will raise up a hundreds of workers with the gospel and compassion for the children of the Philippines and the world.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Whom Are You Serving?

by Randy Alcorn

I appreciate these thoughts from our friend Joni Eareckson Tada on Christ being the motivation for our earthly service. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:7-8, we are to “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” —Colossians 3:23-24

Sometimes I hear people say that a single man has “given his elderly parent the best years of his life.” Or I hear about a mother who has sacrificed all to “devote her years to care for her handicapped child.” Occasionally it is a missionary who has “given up her life for the mission field.”

And sometimes I hear that this single man, mother, or missionary has nearly worn out himself or herself, collapsing in bone-weary exhaustion. No wonder these people sound tired. Whom do they think they’re serving? Jesus must not only energize our service, He must be the focus of our service. As Colossians chapter 3 advises, “Whatever you do work at it with all you heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Yes service to God means sacrifice and devotion. But we don’t give up our lives to serve others—we give up our lives to serve the Lord. It is almost incidental that we are serving a husband or wife, an elderly parent, a handicapped child, or a tribe on a mission field.

When our focus in Christian service is squarely on the Lord Jesus, our work may be tiring, but it doesn’t have to be tiresome. We may get weary, but our work does not have to be wearisome if our energy comes directly from the Lord Jesus. How can service to the Lord be a tedious, boring effort?

Lord Jesus, it is You whom I love to serve. Help me to keep my focus on You today so that I will have all the energy I need to help others around me.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust. Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Read more: http://www.epm.org/blog/2014/Aug/27/whom-are-you-serving#ixzz3DmkYTFsd

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ten Things I Would Do If I Were President!

by Pastor Perry Noble

This article is for entertainment purposes only. I am not running for president, nor am I considering it. But, if I did…

#1 – I would lead, not bow down to the idol of political correctness. The problem in Washington (not just with the President…but with BOTH parties) is that no one is willing to actually say what the problems are OR deal with them because doing so would require facts to be dealt with rather than swept under the rug. 
#2 – I would tell the nations across the world that are currently detaining Americans and being very public about it that they have 24 hours to release our citizens…or we’re coming to get them! (For example, Mexico, North Korea and Iran!) 
#3 – I would not delay one more second in dealing with immigration reform. People who want to come to the US must be treated with compassion and understanding, but there also has to be a legal process than must be declared and enforced. 
#4 – I would cut the corporate tax rate to 25% across the board, encouraging businesses to stop leaving the United States and actually bring jobs to our country. 
#5 – I would drill for oil on the land we own and not allow special interest groups to dictate the decisions to do so. If we have the resources to take care of/provide for our country (and others as well)…we are insane not to use them!   
#6 – I would call ISIS a terrorist group, declare war on them and do whatever it takes to take care of the problem. 
#7 – I would reform welfare (the system is necessary—but it is also JACKED UP!) The solution for the country is not more government handouts…but creating more jobs. 
#8 – I would cease to provide ANY funding at all to nations that have any ties to supporting terrorism. 
#9 – I would impose a tax system that would be fair to everyone, a percentage based system (whether it be 5 or 10%) that would mean all people are contributing. 
#10 – I would impose a 32-team college football playoff system so we could have a true national champion every year!!! 
By the way…I STILL believe the GOSPEL is the hope of the world. JESUS CHRIST changing hearts is the ONLY WAY the world can become a better place…and I LOVE being a pastor, not the President!

Disclaimer:  These are not the political opinions of New Spring Church, nor am I speaking for every staff member of our church. It’s simply a fun post that I decided to write. I know that some people say pastors should not have political opinions…but I have noticed that they only say that when the pastor's political opinions do not line up with their own!) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fast Facts on the Religious Motivation for Violence of Islamic Extremist Groups

  • In recent days the world has been shocked by the atrocities being carried out by the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS. What is the religious motivation for such barbaric activity? 
  • The Islamic holy book, the Koran, contains 109 “war verses” advocating the killing of Jews, Christians, and other infidels (See for example: Surah 8:12-13; Surah 9:5-30,123; Surah 47:4). This is significant, as Muslims believe the words of the Koran come directly from Allah.
  • During his lifetime, Mohammed, the founder and prophet of Islam, ordered or led 73 attacks against non-Muslim Arabs, Jews, and Christians. The example of their prophet is powerful motivation for the Islamic extremist.
  • Islam historically has divided the world into two distinct camps: the dar al harb (house of war) vs. the dar al Islam (house of Islam). Thus, according to Islamic extremists, you are either a Muslim or you are at war with Islam.
  • Islam is a religion of works and entrance into the Islamic paradise must be earned. However, because Allah is capricious by nature there is no assurance of salvation in Islam. The only certain way to gain paradise in Islam is to die as a martyr in jihad or “holy war” for Allah (Surah 4:47; Surah 9:89).
Source: http://christianministriesintl.org

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Four of the Attributes of God

WISE: God knows what is best.
GENEROUS: God gives what is best.
LOVING: God does what is best.
GOOD: God is what is best.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Creation:The Fact That Leads to Faith

by Daryl Wingerd

The Bible begins with a simple statement of fact: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). There are no commands given to men right away, no moral expectations—just this amazing fact. We live in, and are part of, a creation. We call the world around us “nature,” but it is not at all “natural,” at least not in the sense that it just happened. It did not merely come about. All that exists was created—fashioned by God in His infinite wisdom and power.

Starting with that simple yet profound fact, join me in following the progression of logic the Bible presents regarding creation. It is not necessarily in the order of the individual books, but it is there nonetheless, and unarguably clear.

The fact is, God created everything. The logical derivative from that fact is that God deserves to be praised and honored . . . He deserves to be worshiped! And this is precisely what we read near the end of the Bible, in Revelation 4:11.

Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

Because He created all things, He is worthy to be worshiped. No leap in logic there, but rather basic, don’t you think? After all, we praise people for designing and building nice houses, or for sculpting great works of art, or painting the ceilings of old churches. We honor them for “creating” these things, don’t we? So why, when considering the immeasurably stretched out heavens and the vastness of the sea and all its life, and the grandeur of the great mountain ranges, the intricacy of the snowflake and the ingenious workings of even the tiniest creatures, the design of the human body—things that make the most clever works of man look like a child’s mud-pie art by comparison—would we not ascribe praise to the Maker of it all? Why would we not see in all of these creations evidence for the majesty of the Creator? We do—we would—we should—if we were thinking rationally.

But man does not think rationally. Ever since the entrance of sin into the world, as the Bible says, mankind “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” (Rom. 1:25). Imagine praising the artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel rather than Michelangelo, the artist who created it. Imagine honoring the painted metal body of a ’65 Ford Mustang rather Donald N. Frey, than the man who designed it. The creator deserves the praise, not the thing created. It is irrational to adore and praise the lesser thing—the thing created—while ignoring the obviously superior—the creator. It simply doesn’t make sense. It is also evil—immoral. God makes this plain in His response to men who choose to worship the creation rather than the Creator. They experience His wrath rather than His favor (see Rom. 1:18-32).

But the biblical logic goes further. Who is this God? Who is the person who created all of this? Who is worthy of your worship? John 1, Colossians 1, and 1 Corinthians 8 reveal that He is “the Word,” “the image of the invisible God,” the Son. We know Him as Jesus Christ, God incarnate. The same person who walked with the twelve, offended the religious leaders, died on the cross, rose from the grave, and is now seated in glory as the ruler over all, was “in the beginning” with God. “Without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).

Furthermore, creation implies ownership, and ownership implies authority. Everything around you is His possession. You are His possession. He made you, and He owns you. He thereby has the right to command you, just as He commands the rest of His creation—just as He said, “Hush, be still” to the raging storm as His disciples watched in fear (Mark 4:35-41). The difference is, the wind and the sea have no rebellious spirit. The clouds and the mountains and the sand and the rivers and the stars in heaven do exactly as their Creator directs them—without question or hesitation. But men in their slavery to sin resist and rebel, twisting reality into a delusion of self-rule and the worship of self and things. Raging against God and against His Christ, even against logic itself, they create their own “kingdoms” of paper and straw, ready to be quickly consumed by the coming fires of God’s wrath . . . unless they come to their senses, recognize their status as creations of the Almighty God, and humble themselves in worshiping and serving their Creator.

The fact is, nothing else makes any sense.

Source: http://bulletininserts.org/bulletininsert.aspx?bulletininsert_id=539&utm_source=Copy+of+August+Inserts+2014&utm_campaign=Sept+2014+BI&utm_medium=email

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"All Nations" and Church Planting

by Ed Stetzer

How does church planting relate to the Great Commission and Jesus' call to reach the nations?

The Great Commission. Neither the words "great" nor "commission" are in the text, but the descriptor fits. This "authoritative order, charge, or direction" is "unusually large, extreme, and notable" (borrowing phrases from textbook definitions of both words). But why?

The sheer scope of the assignment is embodied in the two little words: all nations. This phrase is translated from the Greek panta ta ethnÄ“. It is often the subject of significant discussion. When many people hearethnÄ“, or "nations," they think of countries. But when Jesus spoke those words, there were no countries as we understand them today. The nation-state is an invention of the modern era. In Jesus' day, there were groups of people, and there were empires. So, Jesus spoke of peoples—all peoples.

When Jesus said "to all nations," He did not mean exactly what missiologists like me want to read into the text—as if He was speaking of the eleven thousand ethnolinguistic people groups in the world today. However, He meant to identify more than simply the non-Jews or Gentiles. He spoke to a Jewish people who knew that God created the nations at Babel (Gen. 11:9), called the nations "up to Jerusalem" (Isa. 2), displayed the tongues of the nations at Pentecost (Acts 2), and will be worshiped by men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation forever (Rev. 7).

In other words, when Jesus spoke of going to the nations, the hearers of His day knew the immensity of this remarkable task. The idea of "the nations" was not new to them—though Jesus was changing how the people of God engaged them.

Upon hearing those words, the disciples took action. What they did reveals what they thought Jesus meant when He told them to go to all nations. They went to all nations—and planted churches. And so should we.In speaking of the nations, Jesus reversed the direction of mission. It was no longer that the nations were to go up to Jerusalem (Isa. 2), but that the disciples were now to go out from Jerusalem (Acts 1:8).

The Great Commission without a focus on the nations is missing its biblical context, the disciples' actions, and the place it holds in the mission of God. The Great Commission without a planting focus is missing the point of what they did upon hearing the Great Commission.

When Jesus said, "all nations," He redirected the mission and sent His people to the nations. Depending on who counts and how they count, there are more than six thousand unreached people groups. Just less than three thousand of those are unengaged, meaning there is little to no witness present.

The nations matter in the Great Commission, and God is calling us to plant churches among those (and other) nations. They need new church plants.

Your nation, wherever you are reading this, is among the nations. Wherever you are reading this, this passage applies. Church planting is to take place in your nation, just as it should in all nations. Sometimes that's because the nations live in our nation. In the U.S. alone, there are more than five hundred unengaged, unreached people groups.

In research released last year by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, missiologist Todd M. Johnson and his team found that nearly twenty percent of non-Christians in North America do not personally know a Christian. More than seventy-five percent of the Sikhs, Hindus, and Jains living in the U.S. do not know a Christian. The same is true for more than sixty-five percent of Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, and practitioners of Chinese folk religion. Even forty-two percent of Muslims acknowledge that they have no close Christian contacts. They need new church plants.

The Great Commission cannot be fulfilled without church planting. Jesus told us to disciple, baptize, and teach. Those three things are done in the context of a local church. If you want to see people become disciples, be baptized, and taught the Word of God, be it in a large American city or a rural Asian village, church planting must be one of the means.But, even people in majority culture need new churches. The church is central to God's mission to proclaim the story of Jesus to every man, woman, and child. As we look to the New Testament, we see that intentional church planting, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was a key method used by early churches to obey Jesus' command. That should be true today. And that includes planting churches in urban centers, growing suburbs, rural communities, and more. They need new church plants.

Someone planted the church you attend. Someone planted the church from which someone came to tell you the gospel. Someone planted the church where you were a new disciple, were baptized, and where you were first taught.

Don't let your church be a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission highway. The nations—and the lost in this nation—need more. They need [the gospel and a church planted among them.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Eight Ways to Comfort the Suffering

by Evan Welcher

People suffer differently. People are soothed differently. The goal of discipleship in the midst of suffering must be comfort in Christ, for the closer we walk with the Lord Jesus the more we see of the massive burden he always carries on our behalf. Surely the Lord Jesus walks with us through the feasts and the famines (Ps. 23).

Here are some lessons I have learned since joining the fellowship of suffering.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Sampler of "I Want to Know More of Christ"

by Steve Hall

I'm excited that a sampler of my devotional book, "I Want to 
Know More of Christ," recently became available on YouVersion, at https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/989-i-want-to-know-more-of-christ . I invite anyone who has a YouVersion app, and is desirous of knowing more of the glorious Christ each day, to check it out. Would you please share this with others in your spheres of influence too?

Whether you have gone through the whole book previously or not, the Spirit can reveal more of the matchless Christ to you every time you focus on Him. And, this might be a great way to introduce friends, family members, others in a Bible study or home fellowship group, and so on, to studying Christ with you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Character Is Everything

Finally finished the excellent biography of "Matthew Henry His Life and Influence" by Allan Harman of Australia. Aside from being a loving husband and father (his own plus adopted children), pastor, friend, bible expositor and writer of many books he is best known for his six volume "Commentary on the Whole Bible." It is interesting to note that his books were accepted and loved by many in his day ( and now 300 years later) because of the example of Henry's godly character. When he was mentioned in writings of others, "...all references are to his integrity of character and the graces that he displayed." (Pg 201)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Leading with Passion

In studying the book of Titus, it is evident that a spiritual servant leader cannot effectively lead without passion for Christ and His ministry for His glory. If you are a leader of a mission/ministry do you pray and work hard at effectively improving and growing the work? Do you seek to expand the work nation and worldwide, build up a team of prayerful team and volunteers, serve as a shepherd of your team, speak during the week and weekends; in other words practices passionate leadership? Or do you just float alone, simply managing the office, not leading but dictating, looking forward to retirement, building a "yes" board and holding on to your position of comfortable directorship? May the Lord give each of use a zeal to lead for the glory of Christ!

Monday, August 25, 2014

5 Great Reasons to Memorize Scripture Today

by Tim Challies

There are few areas of the Christian life where there is a wider gap between what Christians want to do and what Christians actually do than in this area: memorizing Scripture. We all know that we should, we all have some appreciation of the benefits, and we would all love to be released from the guilt of doing it so little. Here, courtesy of Donald Whitney and his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (now in a brand new edition), are 5 great reasons to memorize Scripture today.

Memorization Supplies Spiritual Power. “When Scripture is stored in your mind, it is available for the Holy Spirit to bring to your attention when you need it most.” No wonder, then, that David write, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” “A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to your awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment, can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle.”

Memorization Strengthens Your Faith. “Memorization strengthens your faith because it repeatedly reinforces the truth, often just when you need to hear it again.” But it can only reinforce truth that you have already committed to memory.

Memorization Prepares Us for Witnessing and Counseling. “Recently, while I was talking to a man about Jesus, he said something that brought to mind a verse I had memorized. I quoted that verse, and it was the turning point in a conversation that resulted in him professing faith in Christ. I often experience something similar in counseling conversations. But until the verses are hidden in the heart, they aren’t available to use with the mouth.”

Memorization Provides a Means of God’s Guidance. David wrote, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” “Just as the Holy Spirit retrieves scriptural truth from our memory banks for use in counseling others, so also will He bring it to our minds in providing timely guidance for ourselves.”

Memorization Stimulates Meditation. “One of the most amazing benefits of memorizing Scripture is that it provides fuel for meditation. When you have memorized a verse of Scripture, you can meditate on it anywhere at any time during the day or night.” Then you can be like David who exclaimed, “Oh how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day.”

Here is a final call to action:

The Word of the Word is the “sword of the Spirit,” but if there is no Bible physically accessible to you, then the weapon of the Word must be present in the armory of your mind in order for the Spirit to wield it. Imagine yourself in the midst of a decision and needing guidance, or struggling with a difficult temptation and needing victory. The Holy Spirit enters your mental arsenal and looks around for available weapons, but all He finds is a John 3:16, and Genesis 1:1, and a Great Commission. Those are great swords, but they’re not made for every battle.

The only solution is to commit to memorizing the Word of God. For God’s sake, as an expression of your desire to be used by him, fill up that arsenal.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Was Adam an Historical Person?

 by Guy Waters

“In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” So begins the New England Primer, which taught generations of early Americans to read. In introducing our forefathers to the letter A, the primer was also administering a generous dose of biblical theology. As Paul puts it crisply in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Through Adam, sin and death entered into the world. By Christ, sin and death were conquered. Adam forfeited life by his disobedience. Christ achieved life by His obedience. These simple, basic truths, Paul tells the Corinthians, are the very structure and content of the gospel.

In the modern world, skeptics have long questioned or denied the historicity of Adam. Neo-orthodox theologians added their voices to this chorus in the last century. More recently, and under the pressure of evolutionary theory, some prominent evangelical voices have as well. One prominent evangelical Old Testament scholar has argued that “it is not necessary that Adam be a historical individual for [Genesis 1–2] to be without error in what it intends to teach.” Another well-known evangelical Old Testament scholar denies that “a literal Adam [was] the first man and cause of sin and death.” Even so, he continues, we may retain “three core elements of the gospel,” namely, “the universal and self-evident problem of death; the universal and self-evident problem of sin; the historical event of the death and resurrection of Christ.”

It may help to pause and review what the issues in this particular debate are and what they are not. The issues do not concern the age of the earth and of the universe. Neither do they concern how we are to understand the days of Genesis 1. Reformed evangelicals have disagreed on these issues for generations, all the while affirming their common belief that Adam was a historical person.

We may frame the issue in the form of two related questions. First, does the Bible require us to believe that Adam was a historical person? Second, would anything be lost in the gospel if we were to deny Adam’s historicity?

In answer to the first question, yes, the Bible requires us to believe that Adam was a historical person. Some of the clearest testimony about Adam comes from the New Testament. When explaining Genesis 2, Jesus clearly speaks of the first man and the first woman in historical terms, and of the institution of marriage in historical terms (Matt. 19:4–6). The Apostle Paul, in referring to Genesis 2, speaks of Adam and Eve in terms equally historical (1 Tim. 2:12–14).

In 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5, Paul places Adam and Jesus in parallel relationship. Paul calls Jesus the “Second Adam”—there is none between Adam and Jesus (1 Cor. 15:47). He also calls Jesus the “Last Adam”—there is none after Jesus (v. 45).

This relationship requires Adam to be a historical person. Paul compares Adam and Christ in terms of what each man did. Paul speaks of Adam’s one trespass in eating the forbidden fruit, and of Christ’s obedience unto death and resurrection unto life. For the comparison to hold, Adam’s actions must be as fully historical as Christ’s actions are historical, and Adam must be as historical a person as Christ was and remains.

So then, the Bible requires us to believe that Adam was a historical person. Now, taking up our second question, what are we to make of the argument that nothing in the gospel would be lost if we were to deny Adam’s historicity? May we uphold universal sin and death while discounting the way in which the Scripture says sin and death entered the world? The answer is no. The Bible does not give us that option. It clearly teaches that sin entered the world through the one action of one historical man, Adam (Rom. 5:12). If we reject the Bible’s account of a historical point of entry for sin into human existence, then, as Richard Gaffin has rightly observed, sin is no longer a matter of “human fallenness.” It is a matter of “human givenness.” It is just the way that human beings are.

This understanding of our plight upends the gospel. Absent a historical fall, the Bible’s account of redemption through the Second and Last Adam, Jesus Christ, makes no sense at all. How can it at all be meaningful to say with the Bible that God, in His sovereign and infinite mercy, has recovered and restored what was lost in the fall? To deny the historicity of Adam is no trivial matter. It has radical implications for the way in which we look at human nature, evil, and redemption.

The second lesson of the New England Primer, teaching the letter B, is “Thy life to mend / this Book [the Bible] attend.” Having clarified our human problem in biblical terms with its lesson on the letter A, the primer then articulates the solution in equally biblical terms with its lesson on the letter B. Wise counsel indeed. And what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Four Moments I'm Preparing Students to Face

by Cameron Cole

Ministry to children and youth for both parents and church workers focuses on cultivating followers of Christ with sustainable faith. Basically, we want the faith of our young people to stick when they leave our homes and churches to live as independent adults.

As I listen to and observe the faith journeys of former students and young adults, I often see pivotal moments along the way that constitute “make or break” tests of their faith. Discipling my students, I am preparing them for these four moments. Read more ...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ann Coulter and Our Mission

by Russell Moore

In recent days, Donald Trump and Ann Coulter have kicked up a lot of social media dust about the Christian missionaries being treated for Ebola. Trump essentially patted missionaries on the head, saying its great if you go overseas to do stuff, but you pay the consequences. Coulter was, per usual, even worse. She argued that American Christians shouldn’t even be going to Africa. “Can’t people serve Christ in America anymore?” she asked.

Many Christians were horrified because they rightly understood that Coulter’s comments are a repudiation of the gospel and the Great Commission. Read more ...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One Basic Requirement for Leadership -- Humility

  1. Do you eat with the common folk? Do you associate with the insignificant and ordinary on your team, ministry, or church?
  2. Do you manage by “walking the floor”? Does everyone in organization know you? Do you spend time with them? Do you check on their work for encouragement and challenge, not for criticism? 
  3. How much time do you spend pastoring your team? Are you concerned about their marriage, walk with God, their children? Do you make an effort to assist them? You may think this is not necessary, but in a Christian ministry, each leader is responsible under God for their people. Your job is not just a 9 to 5 job, but a constant involvement with your team.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Character is King by Tim Challies

Gallons of virtual ink have been spilled over the weekend as people have discussed the latest news in the ongoing saga of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: both he and his church have been removed from Acts 29, the church-planting network he helped establish. This is only the latest incident in a long, steep, and very public decline. The news has been reported in Christian outlets, all over the local Seattle media, and as far afield as Huffington Post, TIME, and the Washington Post.

As the situation comes into focus through scandal after scandal, it becomes increasingly clear that there are, and always have been, systemic issues at Mars Hill. Many of those issues are directly related to the sins and weaknesses of the church’s founder and leader.

I am much too far outside the situation to comment on the particulars; there are many places you can go to get caught up and to learn details, with Wikipedia as good a place as any to begin. One area that I haven’t seen anyone explore yet is what the news means to the wider movement that has come to be known as New Calvinism. I want to think about how it pertains to the majority of us who know Driscoll only by association as a prominent voice in a movement we share. What should we learn from it?

The first I heard of Driscoll, at least to my recollection, was after the publication of his first book, The Radical Reformission. This—late 2004 or early 2005—was the time when most of us first heard his name, and when we began to read his books, to listen to his sermons, and to look him up on YouTube, even if only for sake of curiosity.

As I read his book in 2005, and followed it with     in 2006, I felt both admiration for what Driscoll taught and concern for how he taught it. I loved most of his theology, but was concerned about his coarseness.

In 2006 Driscoll was more formally introduced to the New Calvinism with his inclusion in the Desiring God National Conference and even then he was a controversial figure. When Piper invited him again in 2008 he recorded a short video to explain why he had extended the invitation. These words stand out: “I love Mark Driscoll’s theology.” While Piper did not deny the concerns, he loved Driscoll’s theology and loved what the Lord was doing through him.

Many of us felt the same way. We didn’t quite know what to think about the man, but we loved his theology. We loved what he believed because we believed most of the same things.

Bear with me as I artificially divide Driscoll’s ministry into three parts: theology (what he said), practice (how he said it) and results (what happened). So many of us had genuine concerns over the second part, but were willing to excuse or downplay them on the basis of the first and third. Yes, he was crude and yes, he sometimes said or did outrageous things, but he never wavered in publicly proclaiming the gospel and both his church and his church-planting movement continued to grow. We were confused. We did not have a clear category for this. We had concerns, but the Lord seemed to be using him. So we recommended his podcasts, or bought his books, even if we had to provide a small caveat each time.

In retrospect, I see this as a mark of immaturity in the New Calvinism, in what in that day was called the Young, Restless, Reformed. It was the young and the restless that allowed us to be so easily impressed. To large degree, we propelled Driscoll to fame through our admiration—even if it was hesitant admiration. (You can read an article I wrote in 2008, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mark Driscoll?, to see how I did this; reading it today, it seems awfully naive and immature, doesn’t it?)

In those early years I traveled to quite a few conferences and had the opportunity to hear from several of the church’s elder statesmen—men who have had long and faithful ministries within the church. At every conference Q&A someone would inevitably ask, “What am I supposed to think about Mark Driscoll?” I heard many answers, but time and again I heard mature leaders express concern. Many of them were convinced he did not meet the biblical qualifications to be a pastor and, therefore, should not be in ministry. Some of them said, with regret, that they were convinced his ministry would eventually and inevitably explode into scandal at some point.

At the time I was tempted to take this for pessimism or a curmudgeon’s spirit. But then Driscoll’s ministry exploded into scandal. Now I have to see it as wisdom—wisdom that comes from many years of observation and many years of searching the Scriptures. These men knew what we overlooked: Character is king.

When the Bible lays out qualifications to ministry, it is character that rules every time. The Bible says little about skill and less still about results. It heralds character. And from the early days, Mark Driscoll showed outstanding natural abilities which led to amazing results. He knew and proclaimed sound theology. But he also showed an absence of so many of the marks of godly character. A hundred testimonies from a hundred hurt friends and former church members shows that what we saw from the outside was only a dim reflection of what was happening on the inside. The signposts were there, but we ignored them.

The young and the restless are, I hope, growing up and settling down. A young movement responds eagerly to things a mature movement does not. I doubt we will see another Mark Driscoll anytime soon—someone known equally for crudeness and for gospel preaching. We get it now, I think. The two are incompatible.

It is my hope that an enduring lesson for the New Calvinism is that character matters. As Christians and as a movement, we need to allow this example to put to death any lingering pragmatism that judges the means by the results. Numerical growth and shared theology are wonderful, but insufficient. It is character that qualifies a man to ministry. God’s Word could hardly be clearer in this regard. Let’s allow this tragic situation to cause us to look with fresh eyes at the biblical qualifications for a man who would be a leader within the church. That would be the healthiest outcome for a movement that prides itself on health.