Sanctity of Life – Do We Really Care?

My good friend, Marty Schoenleber Jr., posted a video recently that was produced by his ministry team at Trinity Church in Watseka, IL. This video is powerful in conveying the senseless loss of millions of lives due to abortion. I have had the privilege of spending a couple of days with Marty. We talked, walked, prayed and cried together. Marty is a man whose soul is marked with wounds of Christ for the lost and hurting. His life is immersed with continual thoughts on reaching and equipping others to be the heart and voice of Jesus to our generation. I am honored to be his friend.

Below is the video. I pray you will STOP whatever you are doing and give 8 minutes to an undisturbed viewing of this video. Then, join me in falling on our faces before our Lord Continue reading “Sanctity of Life – Do We Really Care?”

Why Me, Lord?

Why Me Lord?Being in full time ministry since 1985, I have been with a lot of people who received bad medical news. Of course many times, even as pastors, we find ourselves offering the ‘pat answers’ embedded within shallow clichés. On June 17, 2008, the tables turned. I received a call from my Doctor telling me I had Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of cancer within the body’s lymphatic system. I knew what this could mean as I have lost two close friends from the same type of cancer throughout my life.

I have always loved everything about apologetics–the search for balance, the answers to life’s questions, the response to objections to faith. However, the most difficult question in apologetics came down on my life with force and fear–“Why me, Lord?”

I surrendered to the Lord at an early age. I have sacrificed, as all Pastors do, much time, energy and finances to share God’s Word. NOW, this is what I get? I know many think Pastors are beyond such questions…but we aren’t, not if we are honest. How could God really love me as His child and send me down this path? I wouldn’t do this to my child. The questions flooded my aching soul like a breached dam. I found myself pouring over the various prayers of David in the Psalms and found great comfort in knowing that the questions were common. Continue reading “Why Me, Lord?”

A Cry Through The Window

India woman windowRecently, two of our Church Planters preached in an unreached village. They proclaimed that Jesus as the Only Begotten Son and the Savior of all. They shared how that man must come to Him through faith and repentance by believing the gospel. After preaching, some rogue elements of this village attacked and beat them up. As they ran them out of the village they said, “If you come back, we will kill you.”

These types of reports from the front lines of work through our Project India team are some of the hardest for me to hear. However, I am aware that suffering and persecution is the norm for proclaiming the gospel to a lost and dying world. In America, we are shielded from this by our laws, but even this seems to be changing as radical homosexuals and militant atheists are attempting to squash the proclamation of truth.

Our top three team leaders traveled to this rural village, asked for and was granted a meetingt with the village elders. They requested permission to continue to preach the gospel and to be protected from those who would attack them. We were not expecting to have a favorable meeting, but after a couple of days of seeking the Lord’s will we were holding out hope. Three of the village Elders said, “No.” However, the other five Continue reading “A Cry Through The Window”

Peace in the Valley

Deep VallyEvery Valley in life has a road in and a road out…sometimes it’s the same road. These are the valleys in which the traveller can see the lowland slowing coming toward them. We get to prepare for the elevation change and experience the acclimation of our surroundings. Still, it is a valley nonetheless, and it brings a unique set of issues into our life.

Then, there are valleys where the land just simply drops off…like a sharp cliff. One minute we are on the high ground, enjoying the view and fresh air. The next minute, we plummet to the lowland with the suddenness of a acorn falling from an oak tree. No acclimation, no preparation, only the sudden crash to the low ground. It could be a sudden and devastating medical diagnosis or family tragedy.

Regardless of the type of valley we find ourself in, God is waiting! He is the highway of Holiness if our actions drove us to the valley. We see His hand and feel convicted about our decisions. We repent and follow this highway of Holiness out of the valley. As we take the winding curves along this exit, we learn valuable lessons about faith, surrender, Continue reading “Peace in the Valley”

Jesus Still Protects His Church

What if Jesus revealed Himself today as He did in the book of Acts? What would it look like? Would we recognize it? Last week I received another testimony from the front lines of church planting through our Project India ministry. In it, two Hindu ladies write telling of how the Lord appeared to them in a miraculous way. They described in detail what was going through their mind and their intent to destroy the local church because of the preaching of the gospel.

Jesus intervened in a very special way and they share what happened to them. I pray it encourages everyone, especially church planters, to look to our resurrected Lord to provide what is needed in our most desperate times.

**Some of the English is rough as it had to go through translation and names have been changed for security reasons.**

“Hello, my name is Sura and my friend’s name is Daga, we live in the village where Pastor Yohn has planted a PROJECT INDIA church.

We both are very bad people, we always enjoying sin and speaking very bad language. At the same time we are worshipers of 30,000 goddess and 67,000 gods. We are very strong worshipers of god ANGENAYA (MONKEY GOD) we also strong believers of  lord GANESHA. We never love any other religion, only Hindu gods. We hear about Jesus six months back and were so anger towards  project–India church believers. We used to think that jesus is not a god of India, but only god to the white people. Even we have seen many images of Jesus he never look like Indian. Our question is, “when we have 330 million gods and goddess, why do we want worship other nations other people god?”

When Pastor Yohn  is sharing  the gospel we asked him stop sharing about Jesus. We told him, “If you do more about Jesus we will kill you!” Continue reading “Jesus Still Protects His Church”

The Strangest Question Jesus Asked

We do not know how long the man had been a blind beggar. Maybe since birth, or for a few short years. However, his story of meeting with Jesus brings out several important issues worth visiting. As Jesus was passing through his vicinity this blind man could hear the commotion of the crowd. He asked those nearby what was happening and was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He began crying out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” (Luke 18:38) As some of the crowd attempted to quiet him down, the blind man only got louder. (Luke 18:39)

Finally, his crying out garnered the attention of Jesus and in the midst of this large crowd the Lord stopped. He commanded that the blind man be brought to Him. (v.40) I can’t imagine the excitement in his mind and heart as he realized that Christ had called for him. He knew this carpenter from Galilee was a healer. He must have wondered if his cry for mercy had moved the heart of Jesus to heal him. As others brought this blind beggar to Jesus and he stands before Him, the Lord asked what has to be the strangest question in all of the New Testament. Jesus looked at him and said,

“What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:.41)

Are you kidding me? It was obvious the man could not see. The Lord even commanded Continue reading “The Strangest Question Jesus Asked”

The Good Physician…He Has Never Lost A Case

Preparing for suicide, I set the steering wheel for the bridge rail. The pain of brokenness had to stop, and this was the easiest way. Satan showed me my own funeral…all the flowers, the eulogies, the friends. All were coming to pay respects as they were saddened by my death in a car accident.

Only one thing was missing; Satan never showed me the eternal damnation I was facing. The pain of my young life had overwhelmed me. Everything around me seemed broken. I had broken the hearts of many friends, my own heart, the moral law, the social law, and my own expectations. I was only 18, yet my inward life was in shambles. It was time to ‘go out’ under the guise of an accident.

Then, as certain as the still small voice spoke to Elijah, the Lord spoke, piercing the deception of the enemy and the darkness of my heart. He convicted me of my sin and offered me hope and forgiveness at the same time. I cried out to Him…repenting of my sins and surrendering my whole heart and life to Him as my Lord and Savior. Continue reading “The Good Physician…He Has Never Lost A Case”

Psalms – A Book of Rough Edges

The Psalms were not written for ‘post it’ stickers to place on our refrigerator door or bathroom mirror to jump start our day. In fact, neither existed when David, Asaph and others penned them. They were written by men in tears, terror, fear and loneliness. Some in the midst of victory and praise.

However, one thing is certain: most Psalms were written in the white hot furnace of affliction as men sought to understand God’s dealings with them. David and others poured out their hearts in honest contemplation and prayer, seeking not an understanding from man, but an audience with God! They were not attempting to wax eloquent and impress the readers. Instead, they lifted the innermost parts of their soul to the only one who could help them.

We face a danger when we read the Psalms. That danger is our temptation to remove the words from the dusty caves and lonely rooms of a broken heart. We bring them to our kitchen table, where we have want for little, and apply their blood soaked words to our Continue reading “Psalms – A Book of Rough Edges”

Persecution and the Power of Forgiveness

Christians have always been persecuted…it is part of our call. (Acts 14:22) The call to plant churches and reach the unreached, will cost us. It will cost our time, our resources, and possibly even our life. We easily forget that all but one (St. John and excluding Judas) of the original Apostles were brutally martyred for the sharing of the Gospel. Their blood and lives were offered on the altar of God’s grace toward mankind. They did not die in vain.

In our day of “at ease in Zion” religianity (my word), we know little of sacrifice, death or persecution. However, this is not the case in other countries and it will eventually find its way into the U.S. in the not too distant future. Church Planters in foreign lands and with limited resources are laying their life on the altar of sacrifice for the gospel’s sake.

In the midst of persecution the Lord is offering us the opportunity to demonstrate the power of grace and forgiveness. Instead of retaliation, it is an open window to be an example of truth and grace. Yes, let us stand for the equal rights of all men. However, if we proclaim the name of Christ let us never fail to offer forgiveness and mercy.

The early church saw persecution as a norm for proclaiming the gospel…they expected it. (1Thes. 3:3-4) Paul viewed it as a ministry opportunity to proclaim Jesus and advance the message among another class of people. (Phil. 1:12-13 – Kings, Governors, soldiers, etc.) After all, Paul knew from his initial calling into ministry that his life was destined for persecution. (Acts 9:15-16) When we adopt their attitude by surrendering to God’s highest purposes we will realize that rejection and persecution is a biblical norm. Then we will also discover the power of communication it offers to us. Continue reading “Persecution and the Power of Forgiveness”

Don’t Waste Your Sorrows

Suffering and affliction are inevitable in this life. It proves the truth of the Bible that we live in a fallen world. Sooner or later suffering will land on our doorsteps; it will visit our life. As Christians, we are not exempt from the valley of affliction and tears. They are common to our life as we wait for the redemption of our body at the Lord’s return. Though our spirit is reborn and brought into fellowship with Jesus Christ, we travel through the same vale of trouble as every man. In fact, we may experience more than the average man because we are a threat to the kingdom of darkness and are targets for the enemy’s attacks.

With the certainty of affliction firmly fixed through the teachings of the Scripture, let us briefly consider what our response should be. Our reaction to a valley of affliction will determine many things in regards to the darkness of the affliction. I do not remember where I heard this, but it has been said, “When you find yourself in a ditch, the first thing to do is throw down your shovel.” Our reaction to affliction can certainly be a continual digging; one which makes the situation worse. Or it can be better than that. It can yield to God’s work and bring about His desired transformation.

Life is part of God’s classroom to teach His children how to trust His sovereign and gentle hand. Without calling evil, good, we do know that regardless of the valley the Lord will work it together for good to those who love Him. (Rom. 8:28) Trials are actually the Love of God in action, designed to mature and call us out of our playpen level of faith. He is calling us to grow up. Continue reading “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows”

God’s Sovereignty and Spiritual Warfare

A casual reading of the Bible reveals the marvelous truth that God is Sovereign. That simply means that nothing takes place in this life which does not go through His Hands and that He is supreme over everything. That can be a controversial statement and one which gives rise to some interesting theological discussions. But how does it affect and apply to spiritual warfare? Let’s briefly look at this.

What does it mean to “go through God’s Hands?” Does that mean He instigates all things and that all things are the work of His Hands? Of course not. However, everything which takes place will either be promoted, permitted or prevented by the Father’s Sovereign will. That which He promotes and prevents can be declared the hand or finger of God with Scriptural certainty. However, that which He permits can have other sources; though none of them are independent of God’s Sovereignty.

Why all of this? Because while upholding God’s Sovereignty we must not press our view of sovereignty beyond the full Scriptural position. If we do, we will find ourselves calling the work of Satan the Hand of God. We have an enemy who fights believers and seeks to steal, kill and destroy. (Jn. 10:10) The OT prophets, Jesus and the early church stood against and engaged the powers of darkness as the cause of evil works. We must also recognize the presence of the enemy and stand in our rightful position in the finished work of Calvary lest we roll over and yield to the enemy’s hand while believing it is God’s Hand. Continue reading “God’s Sovereignty and Spiritual Warfare”

Get Dirt Under Our Fingernails

Church planting isn’t for the faint of heart. Neither is evangelism and outreach. Both require men and women who are willing to place their life, substance, families, careers and talents on the line for the sake of the kingdom of God. We can learn a lot more about church planting and outreach from a group of farmers than we can from a group of businessmen. The similarities of a farmer and a church planter, or one given to outreach, are enlightening to say the least.

Church planting is messy – The gospel is not made for the ivory and glass towers of social comfort. Men are dying without Christ and need to be rescued. However, getting into their lives can be messy and complicated. But, let us remember that we have the answer, and we must not shrink back from the call. After all, Jesus is our example and our messy lives did not keep Him from entering our world of sin and shame.

Church planting is a challenge – Farming requires the challenge to break up hard ground in preparation of the seed. Likewise, people can be hard and afraid to trust others, and for good reason. Let us be genuine friends to sinners, and let us have pure motives. Men will open up the issues of their life if they feel we are honest, respectful and caring. Continue reading “Get Dirt Under Our Fingernails”