Monday, September 20, 2010

Pray for church in Afghanistan

Each month I receive a news letter from my friend Dan McNerny, Associate Director for Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship. His most recent article, Dying to have access, addresses the need for unreached people groups to have access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was also disheartening to read of the incredible pressures facing Christians in Afghanistan. Please remember to pray for Christian communities under fire for their faith in Jesus Christ.

When you read his letter try to imagine what it would be like if the American government treated Christians the way the Afghani government treated believers in their country! Here's an excerpt from his letter:
Presently, there are very few Christian communities in Afghanistan. Those that do exist, meet underground in hidden places. Recently, the Afghani government planted hidden cameras in these underground churches, which exposed the faces and identities of many members. Images of these people appeared on television throughout the country and many members of the current Afghani Parliament cried for these followers of Jesus to be executed. As a result, the Christians in Afghanistan are now scattered, some having left the country; and all of this is coming on the heels of 14 Christian eye doctors and nurses being murdered last month by the Taliban. These blatant acts of hostility and prejudice are no different from what many of the Christians endured in the First Century.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Praying for the will of God

For the Christian, knowing and doing God's will is the path to real joy. Here's a wonderful prayer by Scotty Smith. May it encourage you in your pursuit of God's will.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Sovereign Father, I am currently facing some important decisions about the next several years. Therefore this Scripture brings me great peace, humility, and joy. I am so thankful you are vitally engaged in determining and directing every one of my steps… that you’re working all things together after the counsel of your will… that you’re working in all things for your glory and for our good. You open doors no man can shut and you shut doors no man can open. Indeed, you’re no mere life coach, you’re the Lord of all things… including me.

Many years I labored under the arrogance and anxiety of assuming that if I prayed hard enough and long enough… that if I was really walking in the Spirit, I could know the specifics of your will for my life, well in advance of decision making time. My assumption was that if I was in your will, life would be enjoyable, pleasant and hassle-free.

If I bought the right car, it would never break down…If I bought the right house, the roof would never leak… If I married the right person, we would never disagree… If I went to the right college I’d get the right job and life would be all-right... If I sent my kids to the right school they would never act out and would probably end up on the mission field. Through a better understanding of the gospel, you’re rescued me from these self-centered self-serving pragmatic notions. Thank you!

Father, I certainly realize we must work hard to make good plans, based on the revelation of your will in the Scriptures. It’s critical for us to seek and heed, wise prayerful counsel of good and godly friends. But help us to live with more confidence that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, not a consulting partner… a very present Lord, not an absentee landlord… the reigning King, not an impotent bystander.

Because of Jesus, I’m confident your will is being done… on earth as it is in heaven. Because the gospel is true, I have peace as I enter into this next chapter of my life. Write new stories of redemption and restoration, to your glory. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ exalted and trustworthy name.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The meaning of grace

In his best-selling book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, shares the story of a woman in his congregation who was learning how grace extended to us through Christ's work on the cross can actually be more challenging than religion. He writes:
Some years ago I met with a woman who began coming to church at Redeemer and had never before heard a distinction drawn between the gospel and religion [i.e. the distinction between grace and what is often a works-based righteousness]. She had always heard that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message was scary. I asked why it was scary and she replied: If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with "rights"—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by grace—then there's nothing he cannot ask of me."
She understood the dynamic of grace and gratitude. If when you have lost all fear of punishment you also lose all incentive to live a good, unselfish life, then the only incentive you ever had to live a decent life was fear. This woman could see immediately that the wonderful-beyond-belief teaching of salvation by sheer grace had an edge to it. She knew that if she was a sinner saved by grace, she was (if anything) more subject to the sovereign Lordship of God. She knew that if Jesus really had done all this for her, she would not be her own. She would joyfully, gratefully belong to Jesus, who provided all this for her at infinite cost to himself.
When in your life have you experienced grace?

The Wonder of God's creation

Every thing that God created has a purpose, even if it does not make much sense to us. Take this story for example: has an amazing story about mosquitoes"hypodermic needles with wings," as they call them (shudder). Here you find a staggering look at the intricacy of creation—even a fallen creation. 

Most of us see mosquitoes as a menace, in that they do spread disease and cause death. But just when you long for them to be wiped from the face of the earth, you have to consider this little fact: "Their huge numbers of larvae feed small fish, and those small fish feed big fish, and those big fish are the primary source of protein for much of the developing world." Like I said: "the intricacy of creation—even a fallen creation. Read Genesis 1: 20-23, when God created even the mosquitoes he said it was good!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Don't bash the Church

On Wednesday night, a few of our elders and staff met with 17 folks interested in becoming members of FPE. Not only was the time a totally joyful and laughter-filled time, these people were from all races, places, ages, stages and experiences. God is building his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.

I want to share a very encouraging article written by Randy Alcorn. I pray that it lifts you up and renews your love for the Lord, His Church and also His people. Click here

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reaching People for Jesus

My previous post failed to provide the proper link to the article that I cited. Click here to read what believers in England are doing to reach folks who have left the church.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Reaching people for Jesus

Churchgoing may be declining, but nearly three million lapsed worshippers say they would return the pews with the right encouragment, new research has found.

After reading this article, I am convinced that every Follower of Jesus has the God given ability to reach others for Jesus. Here's my question: what keeps you from having spiritual conversations with people?

Continue reading here

Thursday, September 2, 2010

God's Work or Man's Work?

One of the more dramatic chapters in Acts of the Apostles is chapter 5. Check it out and see what you think. The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira for their hypocrisy and lies is of course very sad. Even though God's Spirit is powerfully moving in this young church, people are still flawed.

The chapter turns next to the arrest of Peter and John by the Sadducees. These religious leaders were filled with jealousy and no small measure of anger that the apostles preached with great success the resurrection of Jesus. Everywhere they turned people were talking about Jesus and the preaching of the apostles. These men had filled Jerusalem with their teaching (Acts 5: 28), so they were arrested and plans were made to kill them.

But these lowly apostles were not intimidated by the opposition's anger and threats. They firmly said: We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5: 29). Maybe they remembered Jesus's words, "Do fear those who can destroy your body; rather, fear those who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). Maybe they were so filled with the Spirit that nothing on earth could shake their confidence and resolve in God. Whatever the reason, these men could not be moved.

They would have killed them on the spot, but a leading rabbi among them, Gamaliel stood up and cautioned their murderous desires. "Keep away from these men and let them alone," he said, "for if this plan or undertaking is of man it will fail. But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God."

These are very encouraging words for those among us who walk with the Lord. Here are a few observations:
  • Those who fear the Lord must never be concerned about what people say or think about them.
  • In the end, man's work does not last
  • Never allow external pressure to undermine obedience to God
  • Obedience to God always costs something
  • In the end the glory of God is more precious and desireable than the empty praise of man