Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Jean and I first met Bob when he served us at one of our favorite restaurants. We noted he was a good waiter but that his speech and actions were effeminate and possibly indicated he lived a sinful and dangerous lifestyle.
In spite of our feelings about such a lifestyle we felt drawn to him and wanted to show him Christ-like love—not rejection.
Over several months a friendship developed. When we planned to go to his restaurant Jean would just call in. When Bob answered Jean would just say, “Hi, Bob, this is Jean.” He’d reply, “I’ll have your order on the table when you arrive.” He knew exactly what we’d order.
Jean and I began calling him “our project.” We wanted to lead him to Christ.
We made sure that every conversation would include a gentle witness for Christ and our assurance that we were praying for him. We’d invite him to check out Healing Place Church. Soon we could tell he was more than willing to talk about our faith, Healing Place Church and our work amongst the AIDS orphans of Africa.
Bob would weep with great empathy as we spoke about the thousands of children whose lives were ravaged by AIDS. Once he even gave us $20 to help a child.
Bob changed jobs and we lost track of him for many months. About six months ago we ran into him at another restaurant. He seemed overjoyed to see us—and to tell us that he had started attending the St. Amant campus of Healing Place Church. The pastor is a former Marine with a bold demeanor—not the type of personality Bob was normally comfortable being around.
We saw Bob two or three times over the next few weeks. Each time he was more and more excited about the church. He was different. It was obvious his life had been changed. As we look back now we realize that although he didn’t use “spiritual-ese” vocabulary he was telling he now served Jesus.
“Things are OK now,” he said. (These are the same words my oldest brother used to tell me just before died that his heart was right with God.) And the anxious intensity Bob used to show was gone. His demeanor was calm and settled.
Last night we went back to the restaurant. We hadn’t been there for a little over a month. When we asked if Bob was there the waitress said, “Bob died about a month ago.”
Our first reaction was great sadness. It was a bit like losing a relative.
As we drove home the sadness was softened by the awareness that God had allowed us to influence Bob to seek Jesus and that Bob was, right at that moment, with his Lord Jesus Christ.
If the Holy Spirit had not urged us to step over the threshold of our rejection of his lifestyle, if we had merely tolerated his service and not spoken to him about Jesus, would he have found his way to the cross?
Our “Bob project” was wonderfully successful.
And right now we have some more “projects” we are working on.
Will you let the Holy Spirit show you some “projects?”
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Or sometimes it’s just for a weekend to get money for a few meals.
Children’s Cup African director Ben Rodgers was ministering to a young African teenaged girl encouraging her to stop selling her body. Her response, “Why shouldn’t I be a prostitute? At least I’m getting paid for what has happened to me all my life.” Fathers of daughters, are you weeping?
Would you call this human trafficking? Mothers hand off their unnamed newborn babies to village men who will raise the children to make money for them as sex slaves. In one community by a city dump one loving lady started feeding and educating 62 of these unnamed and sexually exploited children to end the abuse. With Children’s Cup’s help she expanded her “family” to several hundred children who no longer have to sell their bodies for food or education.
Isn’t it human trafficking when a parent or relative sells a young girl into marriage with a man who will bring AIDS into her body? Even the purest Jesus-loving girl is bound by the culture to comply. African teenaged girls live in terror of the day they will be sold into marriage. This is common practice in much of Africa.
And world bodies like the UN tell us not to disturb or try to change local cultures.
This is not a problem you solve with a sermon or two.
Children’s Cup is actively using our AIDS orphan and vulnerable children CarePoints where we help thousands of children daily as ministry bases to reach the local communities with the Gospel. Winning a significant number of the neighbors to the Lord and establishing churches that become communities of believers out of which Christian spouses can be chosen offers a solution.
If we who call ourselves the Body of Christ look away and offer no help, we give our approval to this insidious evil.
Silence is sanction
Monday, September 28, 2009
The other car shot our from a small alley into the side of my Volkswagen van. The police came and took statements from the other driver and me.
My French was never really great but I could read the report well enough to know that it asked if I had any blesse’, the French word for bloody injuries. Happily, nobody had been hurt.
That word blesse’ really intrigued me. It seemed so close to our English word bless. As I researched the derivations of bless, I got blessed. French and English come from Latin. Much of the time the Latin roots of a word are evident in each of the derivative languages. Just like blesse’ There is a relation between the French bloody injuries and the English blessing. Old English used the term bledsian to mean covered with blood. (Bludgeon comes from the same root.) Later English usage had the blessen mean sanctify.
I knew I had hold of something wonderful when I found this. To be sanctified or made holy or blessed meant to be covered by blood–bloodified, if you will. Blessen comes into our usage as bless.
To be blessed means to be covered by blood. Yes! Hallelujah! Calvary’s blood, the bleeding wounds of Jesus, is the source of all blessing in our lives.
When we say, “God bless you,” we are invoking the blood of Jesus on others’ lives. “Jesus cover them with your blood,” would mean the same thing. Now when I say, “God bless you,” it has a new connotation to me.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Global missions strategies have been encountering more sophisticated blocks than ever before. Now, even once-strong missionary churches are saying that the day of sending full-time-on-the-field missionaries is over.
· Ask a missionary how hard it is to book meetings even in churches with multi-million dollar budgets.
· One noted Christian author declared he is through sending long-term missionaries. After a finely crafted and highly motivating message about the USA church mobilizing its resources for missions, he declared his strategy was to send the money to national pastors to evangelize their countries. He believes it will work because he will use some of the money to send ministry teams for a couple weeks to train and motivate national pastors.
· Missionaries on the ground who have dealt with the results of such “ten-day-wonders” often vow they will never again host a short term team.
· A fatal flaw in the strategy is to disregard the fact that foreign cultures define integrity differently and many never embrace Biblical goals for evangelism and missions, let alone accountability in funds handling.
· Both of the above mentioned authors are great men with generous hearts. They have generated massive funds that have had little lasting impact on the field.
· Ask the rock stars for a review of how their famine fundraising monies were handled and what they accomplished. Even the honest ones found it nearly impossible to get the aid all the way to the starving people. I was there. I saw. I know.
· Talk to donor governments about how much of their aid makes it past foreign bureaucrats’ pockets to the people in need.
· The usual disbursement of funds goes first for personnel salaries. Office complexes. Service vehicles. Meetings. Surveys. Planning sessions. Then more meetings and conferences full of hand-wringing over the fact they can’t find enough people at ground-level honest enough to implement projects.
· Executives sitting on massive aid funds recognize that money as the source of their power and prestige. Quickly they realize that every dollar disbursed from the fund diminishes their power.
· One UN official sneered at our faith-based strategies. I asked him which of his UN projects he considered the most successful. I don’t think he even realized that all of his examples used local churches and missionaries to make the project work.
Where is the next wave of missionaries?
· Meet the lovely Norwegian missionary orphanage director in Africa.
For more than 52 years she has poured her life into a community and founded an orphanage that raised hundreds of young lives to become business and government leaders—real society-influencers.
· Stand beside this hero with me and hear—no, make that feel—her sobs as she says, “There is no one coming to take my place. My health is gone and my mission is forcing me to go home.”
· Social movements seldom last more that three generations. The first gets it going and pursues it zealously. In the second generation some are fervent about the movement, yet many have no interest in the movement. Few of the third generation pay any heed to it. World missions is in that third generation.
· Where are the sermons challenging the people with the Great Commission (now sometimes called the “Great Omission”) to go everywhere and tell everybody?
· Where is the altar-call to missions?
· When did the congregation last sing, “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord…” or “To the regions beyond”?
· Where are the language schools teaching Christian students the languages of places hostile to the Gospel?
· Where are the parents who make sure their children encounter missionaries to drink in the missionary’s spirit?
· When was the last time the church took up an offering for missions?
· Who was the last son or daughter of the church to be sent out as a missionary?
· Have you noticed the Christian book stores no longer have a missions section? Is that because nobody is writing them anymore? Do publishers no longer print them because they won’t sell? Are the missions classics all out of print?
· Have you seen the Jesus-haters’ long queues of young volunteers anxious to be given their bomb-vests so they can kill infidels that have not embraced their religion? No shortage of hope-to-be martyrs.
· Do you dare compare that to Christians’ anemic response to the call for new missionaries?
· What kind of god needs bombs and bullets to gain converts and protect his name?
· What missions executives do you know who are willing to live in remote, unheated Asian mountain cave to lead their followers?
· What does the church expect to see happen in world missions given the limp attention it pays to the untold millions?
· Does the church care?
· You will either send your sons and daughters as missionaries or as soldiers.
· You will either give to missions to send them with the Gospel or you will pay taxes to send them to kill and maim.
· We have the capacity to go everywhere and tell everybody yet the church doesn’t do it. But hell does.
· America’s largest export is pornography—movies and music.
· Jesus said, “I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
· Jesus is still saving souls and changing lives and building His Church.
He is still calling for workers in the harvest.
· Will you join me in giving King Jesus our all? Right now?
· Will you go if He asks you?
Saturday, September 19, 2009
There is a devious accuser snooping around in the back of our thoughts seeking for ways to undermine our walk with God by accusing our motives.
We know that God wants us to really submit our hearts and minds in Him. We exert full effort to come before Him openly and without guile. As we move into that realm we start to sense His blessing. We’re tempted to think, “I’m doing it right. God is blessing me.”
Then, unbidden and unwelcome, comes the voice saying,” Well, you are making it work, aren’t you? You play-act like God’s obedient child and He is buying it. You and I both know what you’re really like—your weaknesses, your thoughts, your disobedience.
“Go ahead, play the game but remember, I know what you’re really like.”
“You are wrong, enemy of my soul. Yes, I often fail, but He knows I come to Him with a sincere heart and He blesses my life and work—in spite of my failures. He would never reject the thirst and reach of my heart towards Him and my desire to please Him. His love and forgiveness are far greater than your accusing words.”
“…How do we change our personal devotional life to reflect the life of reception, seeking God’s gifts as beggars rather than His applause as performers?” Martin Luther: Grace Upon the Cross
Martin Luther’s words make us see we can never believe our personal piety brings God’s blessing. We can only approach Him as beggars undeservedly receiving God’s favor.
My first motive when reaching toward God is to come honestly and humbly before Him. That first motive is what God judges us by. He then exposes and deals with me about the human imperfections that try to sabotage my motives.
How perfect is His plan and His understanding.
Some have said, “A righteous God is man’s greatest creation.”
No human mind could ever devise such an intricate and thorough plan as God's.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Extremely unlikely but this bronze prutah coin was in circulation in Jesus’ time. And nobody could say it was impossible that it was once used to buy food for the Master.
Just thinking the question is a bit overwhelming.
And it made me think.
Judas was the purse-bearer, the money handler, for Jesus and the Twelve. It appears that he managed well enough to keep the group financially viable for more than three years. Once, however, he did have to go to the fish’s mouth get the money to pay the taxes.
Taxes were budget busters then, too. It’s clear that the Disciples did not have a tax-exemption that American 501 C 3 organizations have enjoyed for decades.
A couple observations: Judas sold his own soul and the life of the Redeemer who would have forgiven him for thirty coins.
And throughout all history men and governments have traded their own souls money.
Jesus-hating leaders appear to be ready to take away any tax exemption for charitable giving that enables the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Godly financial planners should be telling their clients of the still viable ways to plan their estates in ways that lock in tax benefits now and at the same time promote the Gospel—the only hope for our nation and its economy.
It’s a double win if they do. A double loss if they don’t.