Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Smuggling Illegal Bibles to China in the 1980's

In the late 1980's, a co-worker and I were asked to accompany 30 other missionaries in the Philippines to China to carry the largest shipment of Bibles ever smuggled into that country at one time.

We were divided into 10 teams of three, carrying small and large pieces of luggage with few or many Bibles. I was asked to carry the largest piece which was a trunk filled with Bibles weighing up to 175 pounds!

I ended up being the last one through customs where a young female official examined my passport and visa. She looked at the large trunk which I had to noisily roll across the floor and asked, "What is in that large trunk?"

Not wanting to answer I simply said, "Warm day today, isn't it?" She said yes and asked me again to open the trunk, but instead I nervously said, "That is a nice uniform you have on. Is it provided by the government?" Smiling and thanking me, she confirmed that her uniform was provided by the government and then repeated, "Would you please open the trunk?"

Now I was sweating since I was surrounded by several other customs officials. What could I say? "Please Lord, give me wisdom as these Bibles are desperately needed by the underground church in China!" was my prayer.

So I said, "You have a very important responsibility for one so young." She seemed to enjoy the compliment but repeated her request, "Sir, would you please open the trunk!" Even today, over 30 years later I am surprised by my response. When she asked me this third time to open the trunk, which would have exposed the precious cargo of Bibles resulting in their confiscation, I reached out and took my passport and papers from her hand and politely said, "It has been so nice to talk to you, but I need to leave now."

Then I turned and started to push (roll) the trunk to leave but the wheels collapsed under the heavy weight of the Bibles! Panicking, I quickly grabbed the handle to pick up the trunk, but the handle also came off because of the weight.

By now I was surrounded by customs officials. This is amazing, but even though everything seemed to be going wrong, not one official stopped me. I then grabbed a small metal hook, which had connected the handle, between my thumb and finger, picked up the heavy trunk, and calmly walked out the door as if I was carrying a small bag!

The Lord be praised as He helped a frightened inexperienced smuggler deliver needed Bibles to the church in China to the glory of His name!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Leadership – Live and Lead by the Power of Holy Spirit

As believers, (justified ones), we are completely accepted in Christ!  The wrath of God for our sin has been completely appeased (satisfied, exhausted).  Nothing we can do can make us any more worthy.  Christ has done it all! We have now been given the Holy Spirit who enables us and empowers us to live, lead, obey, and serve Him.  The Holy Spirit now guides us in love unto all truth, to obey His command as given to us as believers in His Word, the Bible.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What are the Steps in Choosing a Ministry International Leader?

Over the last two years it has been interesting and refreshing to work on articles for publication and helping compile two books on Christian Servant Leadership.

Even in my old age, I have recently been involved in church, organization, and missions leadership development and continue to learn much. Yes, there is so much to continually learn and grow to the glory of God.

Through a study of interviews, much reading, and leadership experience, I have discovered that the character qualities needed in any Christian leadership responsibility are HUMILITY and Christlike SERVANTHOOD!

With these in mind as the foundational characteristics of Christian leadership in ministry, how do missions and ministries prayerfully appoint one to lead any ministry and especially an international one and as the General Director?

Perhaps we could begin with the following CHARACTERISTICS: (What do you think?)

1. One who is already a servant leader; one who serves others rather than expecting to be served.
2. One who is respected for his godly character and lifestyle and is looked upon as a servant.
3. One whose previous ministries have expanded and matured. What has he accomplished for the ministry?
4.One who practices Pastoral/Member Care; has workers and missionaries been cared for, checked on, and encouraged under his previous and present leadership? (One thing I hear often from the "common folk," is the lack of concern of the leaders for them or their work).
5. One who fulfills the biblical qualifications of servant/elder leadership, especially for a Christian ministry.
6. One who has a proven record of caring for national workers, serving and honoring them rather than having them serve him and his comfort needs.
7. One who is an experienced networker for the help of other ministries as well as his own.
8. One who knows the Word and is able to communicate and apply it in all situations and especially in encouraging team members in their growth in Christ and maturity in their ministries.
9. One who shows a desire and passion for the ministry and expansion, or is he content only to manage what's going on. (One who leads, not just maintains).
10. One who is friendly, kind, and outgoing with a real interest and Christlike concern and compassion for others.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Leadership – Notetaking and Learning from Others

It is amazing as you read Proverbs there is much instruction to read and to learn.  Proverbs 4:13, “Take hold of instruction; do not let go.  Guard her, for she is your life.”

As a Christian leader, one should humbly learn from others.  For example, when you meet with leaders, pastors, friends, and others, have a notebook and write down suggestions, advice, and ideas for ministry. Learn from young and old alike.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The High Cost of Communism in Venezuela

from Time Magazine, March 23, 2015

In recession-stricken Venezuela, where inflation runs at 68%, extreme shortages of imported goods have combined with stifling currency controls to drive the official price of everyday household items into the stratosphere.

The Official Rate
The government controls the prices for imported essentials like food and medicine using an official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivares to $1. At this rate, the minimum wage is approximately $890 a month.

The Black Market
To buy most other goods, locals without dollars rely on the currency black market, where around 250 bolivares will buy you $1. That same minimum wage is a paltry $22 a month on this market, roughly equal to minimum pay in Ethiopia.

The Result
The disconnect means many products are out of reach for ordinary Venezuelans. An iPhone 5, available at online retailer Mercadolibre for 88,999 bolivares, costs $14,127 at the official rate (or $356 in black-market dollars).

An unopened iPhone 5 -- $14,127

A bag of dog food-- $316

A jar of instant coffee -- $190

Monday, June 22, 2015

Leadership -- the Word of God and the Gospel

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3: 16-17).

In his book, “The Conviction to Lead,” Albert Mohler says, “For the Christian Leader, convictions must be drawn from the Bible and must take the shape of the gospel. Our ultimate conviction is that everything we do is dignified and magnified by the fact that we were created to the glory of God.  We were made for His glory and this means that each of us has a divine purpose.  The Christian leader finds great passion in the great truths of the Christian faith, and especially in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The spiritual leader must be relentless in his pursuit of truth and the application of truth to his life and his organization.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Leadership – Criticism

Spiritual leaders are to humbly learn from criticism.  Even if the unjust and seek to build relationships with those criticizing and ask how to improve.  To not become angry, but be gentle and trust God for help and strength to improve for His glory. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1). “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Leadership – Manners (the Kindness of Christ in Action)

If we are criticized as leaders let it be for the offense of the cross and in defense of the gospel, and not because of our crudeness of speech or questionable life style. “Love … does not act unbecomingly [is not rude] …”(1 Corinthians 13: 4-5).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What's at stake? The Gospel is at Stake.

Q & A with Tim Challies and William Vandoodewaard

There is always one truth or another that is being disputed. There is always some doctrine or another that is under attack. And speaking personally, I find it hard to keep up. Sometimes it is best to recruit some help, and I did that very thing recently. I keep hearing about differing views on the historical Adam, with more and more people moving away from a strictly literal understanding that Adam was divinely created by God on the sixth day of creation. Knowing that William Vandoodewaard had just written a book on the subject (The Quest for the Historical Adam), I asked if he would help me sort it all out. He did that in this brief but helpful Q&A. Read more ...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Leadership – The Word of God

If we had to select one chapter of the Bible that portrays the heartbeat of a godly leader in relation to the Word of God, it would probably be Psalm 119. In all but two of its 176 verses, the psalmist relates his life to the Word of God to the God behind the Word. It is always Your laws, Your statues, Your desires, Your precepts, and so forth. To the writer, the law of God was not cold commands of some far-off deity, but the living Word of God which he loved, sought, and yearned to please. (Adapted from quote of Jerry Bridges)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Leadership – Servanthood

"It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:26-28)

True spiritual leadership, true greatness is achieved not by being served by others, but in giving oneself to selfless service to them.  A true spiritual leader is concerned much more with the service he can render to God and others than with the benefits and pleasure that he can extract from having others serve him.  He aims to put more into life than he takes out of it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Just Thinking: It is the "Little Things" that Reveal True Servant Leadership

It is the things that may go unnoticed, the little things that sometimes reveal whether a leader is a true servant leader of Christ.

Those little things are being kind and polite to all, opening the door and finding a chair for others, making sure that others are served, saying "thank you," and "sorry," listening to other opinions, practicing simple humility, and not insisting on being first and respect for their position.

One CEO, interviewing people for his ministry, always took them to lunch to check their manners; to see if they passed the salt, made sure others were cared for before they ate, and were polite and considerate to the servers (waitress, etc.).

Biblical Leadership: Jesus came to serve others, not to be served!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Leadership - What Makes an Effective Director of a Mission or Christian Ministry?

Often missions do not grow because managers are put in positions of leadership rather than a leader -- a leader who is a missionary as well as a leader.  Spiritual leaders don’t usually look on their jobs from 8 to 5 or Monday through Friday, but are aggressively seeking to grow the ministry to accomplish a task given by God.  Leaders represent the ministry on weekends, recruit, and seek to work in development regarding finances and for the Great Commission.  Managers are needed, but not as directors. Directors/leaders need to practice management skills, but if someone is put into the position as Director of a mission or ministry who is a manager only, then the ministry does not mature and grow as it should or could.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Should We Equate Homosexual and Heterosexual Sin?

by Rick Phillips

I am grateful to Sean Lucas for pointing out via facebook an excellent article by David Prince, answering the question, "Will I Be Fully Accepted at Your Church as a Gay Man?" He answered by saying that a gay man would of course by welcome to join in their worship. He would be welcomed into their church membership through a profession of faith in Christ that includes a desire to repent of sin. He would of course need to understand that his church considers homosexuality a version of sex outside of marriage, and thus a sin to be forgiven and a temptation to be resisted. Read more ...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Leadership -- Differences of Opinion

 “For there must also be factions (difference of opinion) among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19, nasb).

When leaders, managers, and staff have differences of opinion (factions), God uses these to raise up godly, spiritual leaders.  You can always tell true spiritual leadership during a crisis. A true, godly leader is gracious, kind, caring, and steadfast.

Even in dealing with doctrinal issues, even as they steer away from legalism, they remember that, “love for the truth is not the same as legalism.”

Monday, June 8, 2015

Leadership -- Encouragement

Spiritual leaders are encouragers.

In these days when the world and social conditions cause many to be disillusioned, more than ever, a spiritual leader should purposely embark on an encouragement-slanted ministry.

“… but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25, nasb).

Friday, June 5, 2015

Leadership -- Doctrine

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth, (2 Timothy 2:15, nasb).

Spiritual leadership will seek to obtain unity, but not at the expense of turning from God’s Word. Doctrine and godliness always stem from the truth of the Word of God and the gospel always remembering that love for truth is not the same as legalism.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Leadership -- Be an Example

Giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God”(2 Corinthians 6: 3-4a).

Spiritual leaders should seek to live lives of example – not doing anything that would discredit the ministry of Christ.

Matthew Henry says “Cautious lest we give offense in words or actions.”

This includes the clothes we wear, the things we buy, the movies we watch, the way we speak, and especially the places we go.  If questionable, don’t do it, don’t go there, don’t buy it, don’t watch it, don’t eat it, and don’t drink it.

As saints of old use to say, “Others may, you cannot.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Warfield on-Textual Evidence for Inspiration as an Avalanche

by Dan Phillips

I'm reading through John Frame's Doctrine of the Word of God, and his Appendix F pointed me to a useful (and uncharacteristically humorous) illustration given by the great B. B. Warfield in his own great work, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, from which I'll break up a portion of a massive paragraph.

After examining a number of passages that attest to Scripture's inspiration and authority, Warfield says:

But no grosser misconception could be conceived than that the Scriptures bear witness to their own plenary inspiration in these outstanding texts alone. Read more ...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Human Trafficking -- A Modern Form of Slavery

by Joachim Hagopian

Steve McQueen, director of this year’s Oscar winner for best film “12 Years A Slave,” mentioned in his acceptance speech last month that 21 million people are living in slavery today. That quoted figure comes from the 2012 report issued by the United Nation’s International Labor Organization (ILO) that has been attempting to gather international data for over a decade now. In the Asia-Pacific region where most of the world’s forced laborers come from at 56%, an estimated 11.7 million people, followed by Africa at 18% or 3.7 million people live in bondage. Considering that at the peak of America’s slavery prior to the Civil War that ultimately declared it illegal, the total was four million people, fathoming that over five times that number are currently suffering in slavery here in the twenty-first century, casts some serious doubts on whether us humans are evolving as a species at all.

The following statistics come from the 2012 ILF report. The global economic meltdown in recent years has only given rise to conditions ripe for escalation of modern slavery. A total of 18.7 million people or 90% become forced laborers in the private sector of individual homes or private enterprise as opposed to the 10% or 2.2 million people that suffer state-imposed forms of forced labor. Of those 18.7 million forced to work in private settings, 4.5 million (or 22%) are forced into sexual exploitation while 14.2 million (or 68%) are victims of forced labor such as in agriculture, domestic work, construction or manufacturing.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Do Christians Believe in the Man-made Global Warming Hoax?

Without a doubt “man-made global warming” is a hoax, and yet people, even Christians, still promote that it is a danger looming over the earth.

Yes, there is a need for each community and country to deal with pollution, but this does not cause global warming.

Even though it is hoax, the media continues to pound on it, emphasize it, trying to simply to wear down the people who are against this falsehood.

Billions of dollars are wasted on this hoax which could be used for feeding and caring for the 145 million orphans and 160 million street children worldwide.