Friday, January 30, 2015

Leaders, Care for Your People

Margaret and I am presently reading the excellent New York Time's top selling history book, "George Washington's Secret Six (The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution)." Lots of lessons for leaders and illustrations as in the book of Proverbs such as: caring for your people, willing to suffer for a cause, listening to others, taking advise, etc. One thing the book brings out is that there did not have to be a revolution. If Britain had been more compassionate, soldiers not so cruel and especially not demanding overwhelming and burdensome taxes! King George especially refused to listen to the colonist in any regard! So the revolution.

As a Christian leader, do you serve your people or do you look upon them as serving you? Are you a servant or a tyrant? As a Christian, and especially a Christian leader, do you serve Christ by serving others to the glory of God?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Getting Old is Dangerous!

Mistakes come with age and they keep adding up as the years. For example: almost missed the train this morning; went down a one way street the wrong way; didn't see a sign and made a left turn in a no turn lane; added wrong on my tax forms (will probable go to prison for 20 years! It use to be that you don't mess with Texas, now it taxes!), preached over an hour on Sunday (glad it wasn't a football Sunday or there would have been no one to speak to the last 30 minutes), parked in a handicap space just thinking I was handicapped or missing something, and on and on.

Someone in the Philippines was walking me to the door and said, "You know Mr. Nichols, you need to be careful as you are old!" Dad Jespersen use to say, "It's hard getting old; but the best is still ahead!" So if you are old, cheer up, it's not as bad as it's going to be; and if you are young then be patient and kind and helpful to the old folk!

Another thought: God is sovereign; each of us is the exact age we are supposed to be! A great verse of promise and encouragement for the elderly and the young, "Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him." (Proverbs 29:5)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Is Evolution Biblically Acceptable? The Question of Genesis 1 - See more at:

by Rick Philipps

Given what World Magazine has called a "major, well-funded push" to promote the acceptance of evolution among evangelical Christians, the case must be persuasively made against the compatibility of evolution and the Bible. In answer to this pro-evolutionary stance, I am one of those Bible teachers who believe that the implications of evolution involve sweeping changes to the Christian faith and life.

While I appreciate the moderate spirit of many who want to find a way to accept evolution alongside the Bible, I find that the more radical voices are here more helpful. For instance, I share the view of Peter Enns in the conclusion to his book The Evolution of Adam, writing that "evolution... cannot simply be grafted onto evangelical Christian faith as an add-on,"[1] but requires a fundamental rethinking of doctrines pertaining to creation, humanity, sin, death, and salvation. But Christian ethics must also be revised. Read more ...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

In Prison, and You Came to Me (Matt 25:26).

Had great fellowship recently over early breakfast with missionary friend who (with his wife) is one of the very few (such as Christian Growth Ministries) working among the 25,000 prisoners prisoners of Muntinlupa. Of the 14,000 in maximum prisoners several thousand have professed Christ as Savior and are in one of the 16 or so churches inside this prison city.

The urgent request is for many additional missionaries and local Christian workers to work with prisoners and with their extremely suffering families on the outside. There is a need for those to work inside the prison in regular visits of discipleship and follow up halfway training homes upon leaving prison.

This is a great opportunity for the Gospel and compassionate care! It will be hot, risky, demanding, difficult, and expensive but, oh, so rewarding!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Boy Who Went to Heaven and Back DIDN'T (he was a no go!)

Recently Christian and secular news services announced that the boy whose story of going to heaven and back, which was written in a book and became a best seller, confessed it was all false! The publisher and bookstores have pulled it from their shelves with written statements of apology. Will we ever learn that special revelations and dreams are not needed by God's people? We have the Word of God. Revelations of going to heaven, seeing God's vault of gold and heaven's wine cellar, and talking to Abraham and Paul are from the evil one whose purpose is to deceive. Let's flee from these falsehoods to the true and infallible Word of God!

Friday, January 16, 2015

What Are the Marks of a Christian?

Recently, at breakfast with a dear friend (who came to Christ as an adult), we discussed the characteristics of a believer. 

We quickly listed several, namely:

1. Are known as a follower of Christ;
2. Obedience to the Word, seeking to grow as a Christian;
3. Love and compassion for others;
3. Humble, not easily offended and forgiving of others;
4; Love for the local church and regular fellowship;
5. Seeks to be salt and light for Christ in a corrupt society;


Please feel free to answer using Facebook or email: . Thank you very much.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What to Say to That Immodestly Dressed Girl at Church

by Erin Davis

When speaking to parents and leaders of teenagers, I often hear a version of this question:
"There is a girl in my church (or a group of girls) who wear totally inappropriate clothes to church. What do I say to her?"

Here's my response . . .

Drop Your Stone
For those of us who have grown up in the church, the choices of non-Christians can often be alarming. But we need to stop being surprised when the lost act lost. It's been my consistent experience that young women usually don't dress immodestly because they want to ooze sexuality but simply because they don't understand God's heart on the issue.

Instead of passing down a list of rules for what we wear, the Bible encourages us to "wear" the qualities of Christ.

Let's take a detour to a story that might help us see how to approach that young lady in your church like Jesus would.

In John 8, Jesus encountered a woman whose life was riddled with sexual sin, and she probably looked like it. She had been "caught in the act" of adultery after all. I doubt she had time to throw on modest clothing before she was dragged before Jesus. How does Jesus handle the issue?

First, He deals with the hearts of her accusers.

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (v.7).

Maybe you don't come in to church wearing a spaghetti-strap top and way-too-short skirt, but did you bring anger, bitterness, resentment, or addiction? Immodesty is an easy-to-spot sin, but don't come at that girl with judgment or frustration. Wait to approach her until you can do so in love.

Start with the Gospel
After the woman's accusers realized they had too much of their own junk to make a case against someone else, they slowly slinked away. But that didn't mean Jesus let the adulterous woman off the hook. He did confront her sin. Titus 2:3–5 gives us permission to speak truth into the lives of young women. Look how Jesus did it:

Jesus: "Has no one condemned you?"
Woman: "No one, Lord."
Jesus: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more" (vv. 10–11).

This is the simple, beautiful message of the gospel. There's no doubt we are all guilty of sin. We can't cover it up or talk our way out of it. The adulterous woman deserved the punishment the crowd wanted to give her. She was guilty. I deserve the punishment of death that is suitable for sinners. I am guilty. But Jesus offers the woman an exchange. Trade in condemnation for acceptance. Trade in shame for love. Trade in a life of sin to become a new creation.

Does that girl in the pew in front of you know the gospel? Has she turned her life over to Him? Just because she is in church doesn't mean she has. When you approach her, start with the gospel.

Let's Figure This Out Together
Long ago, I was a high school history teacher. Maybe that's why my love for young women is so deep. I believe with my whole heart that middle school and high school girls can change the world.
Back in my teacher days, I had a mantra that colored every lesson plan I wrote, "Whoever is doing the work is doing the learning." Sure, you could download your thoughts on modesty to the young women in your world. They might think it matters. They probably won't. But if you challenge them to open up the Bible for themselves and to discover God's heart on this issue (or any issue) without an agenda, you will see the light bulb go off in their hearts.

This requires an important shift. We need to stop asking, "How can we get our girls to dress modestly?" and start asking, "How can we get our girls to be passionate students of God's Word?" Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God's Word works like a sword, surgically removing those parts of our hearts that don't line up with the holiness of God. Which would you prefer? A girl who covers up out of obligation, or a girl who chooses to change because of God's work in her through His Word?

Let me write your curriculum!
Here are some key verses and thoughts to get you and the girls in your church started.
"Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works" (1 Tim. 2:9–10).

This is a passage about what it should look like to be a woman of faith, but it is not a dress code.

There's no hem length mentioned here—no black and white rules about sleeves or no sleeves or the exact right place for a Christian woman's neckline. In fact, this verse is less about the clothing we wear and more about God's intention that we clothe ourselves with qualities that reflect Him.
Notice that right after Paul tells Timothy that women should dress modestly and avoid appearances designed to draw attention, he makes it clear what all women of faith should wear—"self-control" and "good works." Obviously, those aren't things that hang in my closet. When we talk to girls about the issue of modesty, we need to broaden the conversation to get them thinking about how the ways they present themselves reflect (or don't reflect) Christ.

This is just a puzzle piece in the bigger picture of God's heart for modestly presented in His Word:
Matthew 6:28–30 tells us not to be preoccupied with clothes, but instead to focus on the things of God.

1 Corinthians 6:19–20 says that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we are to honor God with our bodies.
1 Peter 3:3–4 says that true beauty is internal. Nothing we could ever put on and nothing we could ever take off can give us the kind of true, lasting beauty that comes from Christ working in us.
1 Peter 5:5–6 urges us to clothe ourselves with humility.
Proverbs 31:25 describes a woman who is clothed in strength and dignity.
Psalm 132:9 talks about being clothed in righteousness.

Instead of passing down a list of rules for what we wear, the Bible encourages us to "wear" the qualities of Christ. This is why you have to start with the gospel when approaching this issue. No one can wear the qualities of Christ until they have turned their lives over to Him.

Take Her Shopping!
I'm not sure if you've ventured into a Forever 21 or Abercrombie and Fitch lately, but being a young woman with a commitment to modesty and purity isn't easy. Marketers aren't pushing girls toward the "respectable apparel" that Paul mentioned in 1 Timothy but toward the opposite. If the girls in your church are going to live like Christ has called them to in this area, they are going to need reinforcements. Care for her heart, first, through love and Bible study, but then help her give teeth to what she's learning by venturing with her into the mall with ideas and encouragement.

Yes, modesty matters! But the hearts of the young women in your world matter so much more. Can you swap the adulterous woman found in the story in John 8 with a girl in your world? If so, will you ask the Lord to help you respond to her like He would by sharing the gospel in love?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Do We Obey God's Word Regarding Forgiveness?

Perhaps the main reason some (even Christians) do not forgive others is our pride; we are the correct ones, not humble at all. Or perhaps, it is because we have a vengeful spirit and want others to suffer our disapproval. It might even be that we are not loving and just do not like certain people. Sounds like a non-believer doesn't it? As followers of Christ, let's act like it, especially in forgiving others. "As those chosen of God, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other...just as the Lord forgave you..." (Colossians 3:12-13).

Friday, January 9, 2015

You (Yes, You!) Should Consider Global Missions

by Jason Carter

Thinking of missionary service? Maybe you should. It’s not as farfetched as you think. So, you have a spouse and kids? Moving to the other side of the globe is a not a manned-mission to Mars. People still breathe oxygen in Mongolia, Mozambique and Malaysia – and actually everywhere in between.

I know, I know all this comes with enormous caveats: “You can serve God anywhere.” “Moving overseas doesn’t make you a missionary.” “Your missionary field is right next door.” If you’ve attended a missions conference at a local church, speakers nowadays usually go out of their way not to lay a big guilt trip on the whole congregation for not moving to Timbuktu.

Would that be so bad? Maybe we don’t need a guilt trip, but how about a challenge?

Yes, Jesus did say: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8). But he didn’t stop there. He proceeded to wildly expand the geographic vision of these Israel-centric young-buck disciples: “and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.

The message: “Be my witness in downtown Chicago (where you work) and in your suburban Chicago neighborhood (where you live)” is a truncated message. Jesus came to save more than suburban soccer moms and urban hipsters. The North American church is dangerously close to making provincial what Jesus meant to be global.

I think it started with good enough intentions. We’re all called to be participate in Christ’s mission. (Yes, we are.) You can serve Christ right where you are. (Yes, you can.) Over and over, Christians are being told that their mission field is right where they are. That’s true. But only partially so.

Let’s not gloss or oversimplify the Great Commission into a metaphor for “going across the street” or “being bold for Jesus at the water cooler.” It’s so much more than that. It’s a global clarion call for disciples to take the gospel to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all nations.

In our good intentions to help people serve right where they are locally, let’s not stamp out the few remaining embers of fire in the local church for global missions.

There are dangers in making “the mission field” a provincial little place to mean “wherever you happen to be now.” This kind of thinking, if left unchecked, has the potential to cripple the cause of global missions by reducing the global message of Jesus to your circle of acquaintances.

Yes, your “mission field” is, in one sense, right where you are. But it doesn’t have to be. You could move! Your mission field could be at-risk children in the favelas of São Paulo. Your mission field could be a network of HIV/AIDS support groups in sub-Saharan Africa. Your mission field could be a people group in Southeast Asia with no access to the gospel. Your mission field could be training indigenous leaders for ministries of the gospel. (I am especially fond of this last one.)

Churches who continuously indoctrinate their people with “your mission field is right where you are” without simultaneously challenging the congregation to follow Christ into cross-culture missionary service are effectively splashing an ice-bucket challenge on the global, ethnē-centered words of the Great Commission. The cross-cultural response of “O Lord, send me” is silenced in the local church when the cross-cultural question is never seriously considered.

A house payment and having kids settled in a good school need not be IRS ironclad exemptions from participating in global missions. Don’t assume that college-aged kids have a monopoly on obedience to the Great Commission. Jesus called Simon Peter and his business partners James and John to drop everything at the least opportune time – on the verge of becoming a regional powerhouse in the first-century fishing industry (Luke 5:1-11).

You should consider that global missions is a real vocational possibility. But not from a place of guilt nor to muster up some radical desire to “really” follow Christ like some modern-day desert father or medieval monk. It’s a possibility because Christ has already commanded us to “go and make disciples of all nations.” And as we “go” and step out in obedience, Jesus promises to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:20).

Mission is not just about you and where you happen to be at this particular moment. It’s about the Lordship of Christ. He’s King. And not just of your neighborhood or office suite. But of the whole earth.

Global missions? Don’t take it out of the realm of possibility.

Don’t exclude the possibility that God might want to call….you.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Can Street Boys Say Thank You?

Recently we attended the Christmas party at the New Beginnings Camp of Grow International-Philippines for about 20 boys whom GROW works with in Metro Manila. More were to attend, but were rounded up by the police the night before and were in detention.

The boys were wonderfully cared for, and were led in such fun games. When it came time to eat the delicious huge home-cooked Filipino meal, they were surprising well-mannered for street kids, who usually have to fight for scraps of any food at all.

As they came through the line for their food, I did need to work with some to keep them in line and to remind them to say, "Thank you" to those serving them. They did this well and even came to me later to say "Thank you, sir."

Please pray for many additional missionaries and Christian workers to take the gospel and compassionate care to the estimated 100,000 street children of Metro Manila. If there were one missionary/worker for every 500 street children, there would be the need for 500 missionary/workers now!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Doughnut Evangelism (Muslims, as All Others Need the Gospel).

A few days ago I was sitting in a coffee shop in Manila (a city of 20 million which never sleeps) in a shopping area waiting for an appointment. This place is like a noisy bazaar! There are about 15 Muslim women going table to table selling fabric, pearls, etc. Everyone is taking loudly in order to be heard! Where else in the world could an old man like me witness to Muslims, Catholics, retired politicians and businessmen while having breakfast? This shopping center is about half a mile square and could use many retired men and women sharing the good news of Christ over doughnuts!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How To Change Your Mind

by Joe Carter

The beginning of a New Year is an an excellent time to try something new. As you make your list of resolutions and goals I want to recommend adding a simple four step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind.

After reading the entire post the vast majority of readers will snicker at such a hyperbolic claim and never implement the method I outline. A smaller number will consider the advice intriguing, my assertion only a slight exaggeration, but will also never implement the method. A tiny minority, however, will recognize the genius behind the process and apply it to their own life. This group will later say that my claim was an understatement.

This post is written for those people.

A few years ago I stumbled across a variation of the four steps in an article by theologian Fred Sanders and implemented his recommendation that day. I later had the pleasure of meeting Sanders in person and telling him how his post had transformed my life. My hope is that at least one other person will follow this advice and experience the same transformative effect.

Before I reveal the four steps I want to reiterate that while the advice could transform your life, it likely will not. As with most life-altering advice, it is simple, easy to implement, and even easier to ignore. Statistically speaking, the odds are great that you'll ignore this advice. But a handful of you will try it so for the one or two people who will find this useful, the four steps that will transform your worldview are:

1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

Christians often talk about having a Biblical worldview yet most have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible. They attempt to build a framework without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. The benefits of following this process should therefore be obvious. By fully immersing yourself into the text you'll come to truly know the text. You'll deepen your understanding of each book and knowledge of the Bible as a whole.

Since this method is adapted from a book by James M. Gray (1851-1935), How to Master the English Bible I'll let him explain in his own words:

The first practical help I ever received in the mastery of the English Bible was from a layman. We were fellow-attendants at a certain Christian conference or convention and thrown together a good deal for several days, and I saw something in his Christian life to which I was a comparative stranger—peace, a rest, a joy, a kind of spiritual poise I knew little about. One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, "By reading the epistle to the Ephesians." I was surprised, for I had read it without such results, and therefore asked him to explain the manner of his reading, when he related the following: He had gone into the country to spend the Sabbath with his family on one occasion, taking with him a pocket copy of Ephesians, and in the afternoon, going out into the woods and lying down under a tree, he began to read it; he read it through at a single reading, and finding his interest aroused, read it through again in the same way, and, his interest increasing, again and again. I think he added that he read it some twelve or fifteen times, "and when I arose to go into the house," said he, "I was in possession of Ephesians, or better yet, it was in possession of me, and I had been 'lifted up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus‚' in an experimental sense in which that had not been true in me before, and will never cease to be true in me again."

I confess that as I listened to this simple recital my heart was going up in thanksgiving to God for answered prayer, the prayer really of months, if not years, that I might come to know how to master His Word. And yet, side by side with the thanksgiving was humiliation that I had not discovered so simple a principle before, which a boy of ten or twelve might have known. And to think that an "ordained" minister must sit at the feet of a layman to learn the most important secret of his trade!

Rather than wasting time attempting to defend the wisdom of applying this method, I'll close with a few helpful suggestions for putting it into practice:

1. Choose shorter books and work up to longer ones. Since you'll be reading an entire book of the Bible and not just a chapter or two, you'll want to work your way up to more extensive readings. When beginning this program you may want to start with a short book that has only a few chapters that can be read several times in one sitting. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help develop the reading habit. For example, a short book like John or Jude can be read four or five times in one sitting allowing you to finish the entire twenty readings in less than a week. [NT books, shortest to longest: 3 John, 2 John, Phlm, Jude, Titus, 2Thess, 2 Peter, 2 Tim, 1Thess, Col, 1 Tim, Phil, 1 Peter, James, 1 John, Gal, Eph, 2 Cor, Heb, 1 Cor, Rom, Rev, Mark, John, Matt, Acts, Luke; OT books, shortest to longest.]

2. Read at your normal pace. Treating the material reverently does not require reading at a slower than normal speed. Read for comprehension, ignoring the division of chapters and verses and treating each book as one coherent unit.

3. Skip the commentaries (for now). Don't get bogged down by referring to commentaries or other outside sources. Commentaries are for your Bible study, rather than for this synthetic reading. Read each book in its entirety and then attempt to summarize in your own words its theme and major points.

4. Stick with the process. After the eighth or ninth reading you'll hit a wall that is similar to what runners face in marathons. The text will become dry and lose its flavor. You'll want to move on to the next book or abandon the program altogether. Stick with it. Persevere and you'll discover the treasures that repeated readings can provide. Keep in mind that not every book will be equally rewarding. It doesn't mean that you're a heretic if during one of your readings you find 2 John a bit redundant or Jude just plain boring. Keep in mind the words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." Stick with it and you'll fully understand the truth of that verse.

5. Choose an appropriate version. A modern language paraphrase is not an appropriate version for synthetic reading. Likewise, the familiar rhythms and cadences of the KJV can, upon repeated readings, get in the way of comprehension. I personally recommend the ESV, though the NIV can be a suitable alternative.

6. Pray. Ask God to open your heart to his Word. Trust the Holy Spirit to illuminate the text and provide guidance and understanding.

7. Begin today. Don't put it off another day. Don't say you'll start tomorrow, or next week, or next New Year's. You won't. Start with the only time that you are guaranteed — today. Use some of the time you'd normally spend reading blogs to begin this program. Start now and then tomorrow, next week, or next New Year's Day — after your mind has become saturated with God's Holy Word — you can tell me my claim was an understatement.

Monday, January 5, 2015

$1200 for Ticket to NFL Playoff Game

Greetings from Manila, a city of 20 million and a city which never sleeps. There are so many opportunities of serving Christ here with the Gospel and compassionate care! Recently I noticed that the average price to attend the NFL playoff game in Seattle next week is $1200. This is the same price for a small motorcycle needed to assist in the ministry of the Redemptio Christian School for extremely poor children in a depressed area of Metro Manila. For eternal significance, what would you do? To spend your money on a three-hour game, or invest it in the Kingdom of Christ which will last forever!