Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
I am not trained in economics, but from what I can see socialism seems to bring out the worst in people. For those who receive help, the danger of an entitlement attitude seems too strong of a temptation to overcome. For those who give the help, the danger of social, and therefore, emotional separation seems too easy of a temptation to overcome. It brings out the worst in people. On the one hand a person becomes apathetic about their responsibility to provide for their family. On the other hand a person becomes apathetic about their responsibility to care for families around them and not just write a check.
Christianity demands more of people and produces a better result. In 1 Timothy 5 Paul is training his young protégé in the social functions of the pastorate and the church. He is teaching him how people are to be cared for and how they are to give care within a church family. His instructions require the leaders of each family to provide for their family. 1 Timothy 5:7-8 Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. 8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. How’s that for high expectations and clear accountability? If you don’t provide, it is clear you not only don’t believe, but are even worse than an unbeliever.
The church is then responsible for those who cannot care for themselves. 1 Timothy 5:3-5 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. The people of the church incapable of working and providing for their needs must be cared for by the church. Note that they are to be people of the church being cared for by the people in the church.
I love the way I see this happening in our church. We have a benevolence fund, but that is more of a last resort option in my opinion. What I see happening is people who are in small group, service team, or an adult bible fellowship caring for each other. Someone loses a job and the others come together and help out until they get on their feet. A young mother has to go back to work to help make ends meet and another mom provides child-care. Two families with changing needs swap houses rather than incurring unnecessary expenses in buying and selling a home. Someone is called to go to Africa, so everybody chips in to cover the costs, provides meals for the person’s family while they are gone, and helps with child-care and other errands. A health crises erupts suddenly and people are taking shifts to stay with the one in the hospital and helping out at the family’s home to keep things going.
It’s not complicated. It’s love. It’s Christianity and it brings out the best in people receiving and giving the help. There is no sense of entitlement nor is there a buffer of separation. It’s just people doing life together.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
"Churlish souls stint their contributions to the ministry and missionary operations, and call such saving good economy; little do they dream that they are thus impoverishing themselves. Their excuse is that they must care for their own families, and they forget that to neglect the house of God is the sure way to bring ruin upon their own houses. Our God has a method in providence by which he can succeed our endeavours beyond our expectation, or can defeat our plans to our confusion and dismay; by a turn of his hand he can steer our vessel in a profitable channel, or run it aground in poverty and bankruptcy. It is the teaching of Scripture that the Lord enriches the liberal and leaves the miserly to find out that withholding tendeth to poverty. In a very wide sphere of observation, I have noticed that the most generous Christians of my acquaintance have been always the most happy, and almost invariably the most prosperous. I have seen the liberal giver rise to wealth of which he never dreamed; and I have as often seen the mean, ungenerous churl descend to poverty by the very parsimony by which he thought to rise. Men trust good stewards with larger and larger sums, and so it frequently is with the Lord; he gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels. Where wealth is not bestowed the Lord makes the little much by the contentment which the sanctified heart feels in a portion of which the tithe has been dedicated to the Lord. Selfishness looks first at home, but godliness seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, yet in the long run selfishness is loss, and godliness is great gain. It needs faith to act towards our God with an open hand, but surely he deserves it of us; and all that we can do is a very poor acknowledgment of our amazing indebtedness to his goodness."
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995), October 26 AM.
Friday, October 24, 2008
This morning, Blackaby’s devotion (click here to get it) gave me great hope as I was reminded by the truth of God’s goodness and faithfulness regardless of circumstance. In our country we are facing difficult economic times. We are also in the midst of an election where the media is pulling for and telling us that a pro-abortion president and congress will be taking office in ’09.
You can listen to Obama’s view on abortion and then compare it with McCain’s view by clicking here.
Here are some Scriptures that guide my thinking about life and when life begins. Even before conception God has a plan for every person ever conceived. Once life begins at conception God knows and forms that person. To end that life is to murder it and rob that precious baby of the right to live. And that kind of killing takes place everyday in this country.
Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Anyway, even in the midst of these discouraging times God is still God. God is still good. He loves us and will guide us, as His people, to live out the purpose for which He created us. Perhaps these trying times will bring our nation back to its senses and will will become one nation under God.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I appreciate the profound truth of today's devotion. Worship is a vital part of the believer's life. If a person is not able to worship well in the community of the redeemed, over time...
Check out the rest of this blog I wrote for Living Hope's Prayer blog here.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I cannot believe my little girl is 12. She is two thirds of the way through her childhood. I have six more years to prepare her to head out on her own. The prayers of my wife and I have been consistent. We pray for her Spirit, her mind, and her body. We believe that if she has the Spirit of God working in her, a mind for Christ, and a healthy body to serve the Lord with that there is not much more a parent can hope for. From that solid foundation we know she can be guided by God and make good decisions for her life.
We are extremely proud of our little girl. I see in her the beauty and common sense of her mother and her willingness to take risks like her father. I see a love for God and for people. I see a willing heart open to God's directing. I see a life and body that is rapidly changing, but a fundamental commitment to honor God and her parents that stays the same.
Here are some pictures from the early days. Check out dad with hair!
One of the events my wife and I can look back on now and laugh about is the first month or so of Mackenzie's life. She was colic for the first several weeks. If she was awake, she was crying. She was so miserable and so were we. One afternoon I came home from work and my poor wife was in the back bedroom. When I came in she simply said, "Change the diaper." There was no smile or any emotion at all in the statement. It was just a command that needed no explanation, but did tell me all about how the day had gone.
While I was changing the diaper, I heard the door shut. By the time I got the diaper on and carried this crying bundle of love to the window all I could see were the tail lights of my wife's car. I looked in the face of my screaming daughter and said, "Oh, I hope she comes back."
In time she did. She just needed a break. Those were tough days, but we now look at the daughter God has given us and the tough times are seen as worth it.
You may be going through a tough time in your life right now. It may be in your marriage, with your children or other family members, with your finances or work, or maybe with friends or church. No matter what you are going through, don't give up on God. Don't walk away from this opportunity to grow. If you stay the course that honors God no matter how hard it may be, you will be glad you did in the end. If you quit now, you'll find it easier to quit again and again on other things. Don't quit! Stay the course and trust God to provide.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I got word this morning that Moses, a man of peace in India that works with our missionaries there, is in Orissa. He will be there for four days providing relief. He has received $3,000 from the IMB to go in and do all he can. Please pray for his safety. Pray that he will be able to provide love and care for our siblings in Christ who desperately need it. Pray that God will use this persecution to strengthen the church in India and grow it so that the billion plus people there can know that Jesus loves them and is Lord.
You can see some of what happened last month to our siblings in Christ by clicking here and here.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
We have 16 members of Living Hope hiking in the Himalayas sharing the Gospel with villages filled with people that have never heard the name Jesus Christ. This work is tiring and draining. It is draining on the soul to see people living in such great darkness. It is draining on the mind to have so much to say, but so few ways to communicate. It is draining on the heart to know that these people are in spiritual peril without hope. They are sheep without shepherds in a land of the lion looking for people to devour. And the devil is devouring these precious people with his entire arsenal of death.
Please pray for our team members seeking to share the only hope of salvation - Jesus. Pray for their physical safety. They are surrounded by water that can make them sick and are walking up and down trails that can cause a painful stumble. Pray for them spiritually that they will rest in the grace of our God and in the victory of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for them emotionally. They are far from home and what they know and are surrounded by suffering.
Pray also for their families and friends back home. They are concerned for their loved ones, but also hopeful that God will use them for His glory and Kingdom purpose.
What we are doing as a church and this team is doing on the field is what the early church did and what we must continue to do. We must share the hope we have with our neighbors and take that Gospel around the world to those who have never heard. We must do this with love. Our love for each other as a church family should show our community our Christ in us and that same love must motivate us to go to those that feel forgotten and live unforgiven. This is what the early church did according to the book of Acts and that is what we must continue to do.
These are pictures of my trip a couple of weeks ago in the same area our team is in now.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
My thoughts are in India this morning. Our team of 16 just arrived there. Their senses are being overwhelmed right now. They are not tired. Their bodies believe it is 7:30 am, but outside it 9:00 pm. The sights, smells, and sounds of poverty, spiritual darkness, and dense humanity is bombarding them as they make their way to cabs to get to a hotel in preparation for a long train ride tomorrow.
Please pray for this team.
I remember just two weeks ago experiencing the same thing, but also sensing God's peace knowing that I had been sent their by my master to do a vital work for His Kingdom.
This team, like I was, has been sent by God to take the Gospel to people that have never heard the name of Jesus. They will be surrounded by four thousand years of demonic worship and strongholds. Pray that the light of the Gospel in their souls will burn brightly and be seen by those living in the great darkness.
Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Here are pictures of what I experienced getting off of the plane, to the hotel and train station, and on the train.
Click here to see better pictures and to read more stories to get a sense of what God is doing with our team.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
We had a sweet experience of praise, prayer, and preaching last night during our Wednesday Night Worship Service. We have two teams going on mission. Our high school ministry is headed to Scotland and we have sixteen adults headed to South Asia to the same area I just returned from. We prayed for them and after our time of prayer the place erupted in song, while others were hugging and encouraging their family and friends. All I could think was this is church. This is what it's all about - praising God and loving each other.
Unfortunately, for me with all of our praising and praying I was left with more message than minutes. I ended up rushing through the last few points of the talk and I want to make sure that these truths are taught. They have to do with personal development in Christ. The main point of last night's message was that maturity in Christ leads to greater dependence on God and not less, which comes from a humble heart that approaches God in a childlike, but not childish way.
God in His grace will discipline us according to Hebrews 12. But the mature believers is one that disciplines their own life. 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
One of the ways we train our soul is through the study of God's Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1. Correct – this deals with behavior and seeking to change it or align it to God’s will.
2. Rebuke - this deals more with correcting the person’s motives by convicting the believer of sin leading to repentance.
3. Encourage – this deals with letting believers know what they are doing that is right.
The Scripture does all three. We must train ourselves with it and discipline our lives.
But reading is only a part of the training. After reading, we must take time to think through what we've read and make that truth a part of our world-view. The Scriptures lead us to a theistic world-view where we are aware that God is at work in the world and His Word shows us where and how and sometimes even why. Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer
Then we must act on what we've read. Each day we should make it a point to live out at least one truth we have read in God's Word. James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.