No to Resolutions…Yes to Surrender

SurrenderAt the beginning of every year, millions of people, including Christians, start the calendar year off with resolutions and self-promises. It is man’s way of attempting to have a better year than the one before. If we look back over several decades, we find that most have repeated the same old resolutions year after year. Obviously, the power of our ‘resolve’ hasn’t been successful.

Maybe, we need to do things differently. Maybe, the answer is not in the strength of the ‘will of man.’ Real change is found in surrender to the Only One who can change us from the inside-out. This is why the Gospel is so powerful–it is not just a message of a historical figure who died in space-time for us. Jesus actively and existentially changes us as we lay ourselves upon the altar of prayer and spend time in His Word and in His presence.  Continue reading “No to Resolutions…Yes to Surrender”

A Tract…A Man…A Church

New VillageA couple of weeks ago, our Project India team traveled and did outreach and evangelism in a village where people came to market in order to sell their vegetables, fruit and fish. Our team gathered small crowds and passed out gospel tracts. One tract, “The Cross” is a message I wrote last year for the team to translate and distribute. It discusses the plan of salvation from Creation, the fall of Adam, the promise of a Messiah, and the birth, life, death resurrection and ascension of Jesus. I wrote it in very simple language because it had to go through translation and printing for the rural villages we are reaching in India.

As our team passed out tracts, they gave one to a man who was at the village that day selling fish to get money to provide for his family. He lives in a coastal village several kilometers away. His coastal village has a high rate of illiteracy, and most of the population worship the water and fish hindu gods. Very few from his village can read or write, but he was one of the few. He took the tract, placed it in his pocket, and carried it back to his village after he had finished selling his fish.

After arriving back at his coastal village he discovered the tract and began to read it. As he did, his heart leaped with joy as he read the news about Jesus coming to die for the sins and forgiveness of mankind. When he reached the end of the tract, he prayed and Continue reading “A Tract…A Man…A Church”

What We Don’t Want to Hear

repentWhen most of us were in school, chewing gum or talking back to the teacher was the great violation. I certainly spent my fair share of time in the principles office and getting much needed paddlings and detention. My classmates and I were certainly not angels by any stretch of the imagination, but murdering children and teachers never entered our mind.

The school shooting which began the recent trend of tragedies in the United States began in Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi in 1997. I was less than two miles from the school when it took place. We can look back over the past fifteen years and see the continuation of this type of activity and ask, “Why?” What has happened to our youth? What is happening to our nation? How do we turn this tide of violence?

When I was in school, every morning we had a bible devotion. I even read it one morning in high school. I was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I knew my life was ungodly and I was not right with God, but there was a healthy fear of God which abided upon me and our student body. Part of the reason for this healthy fear of God was because every day we started class with a bible devotion and prayer. Many of our teachers were Christians and they freely discussed the things of the Lord with us. They pointed us constantly to a higher level of accountability and toward a life of honesty, respect and discipline. Continue reading “What We Don’t Want to Hear”

I Want to be a Dog!

Recently we lost our 14 year old toy poodle to congestive heart failure. (His name was “Jacque Pierre de Orlean,” but we usually called him “Boo” or “Orlean.”) We woke up Sunday morning, August 19, to find that he had passed away in his bed. Our hearts are broken, as he was as much a part of our family as we are. In fact, we often joked that this was his home and he just allowed us to stay with him. I’m sure other pet owners will understand this.

Throughout reflecting upon the joy he brought into our family and the loyalty of his disposition, I became more and more convinced that he was more like a Christian than most of us. There were certain traits to his character which I see described in Scriptures for you and me. It got me to thinking; I want to be a dog!

He was loyal – Regardless of the situation he only had eyes for his family

He was forgiving – Regardless how we may have done something wrong he always sought to love us.

He was committed – Regardless how he felt when he was sick he always sought to be near us.

He was protective – Regardless of the impending danger he was willing to risk it all to protect us. Continue reading “I Want to be a Dog!”

Broken Jars

One of the greatest beauties of Christianity is that the Lord uses weak and broken vessels to demonstrate the living gospel to others. Redemption is not for perfect people. It is only for those who know their own brokenness and depravity. I wrote an article sometime back on how the Lord uses the wrong kind of people. You can read it here. Let us never lose the sight of the beauty of mercy and grace.

I think sometimes we fail to clearly communicate the gospel with the full force of truth concerning our human need for salvation. We’ve ‘pop-psychologized’ the message of redemption. By this I mean we present the gospel as a help for the situation or problem people find themselves in. This literally turns Jesus into a bell-hop or personal dispensing machine to help make man better. It is not the gospel.

The gospel is that we are ‘really sinners.’ Not theoretically or just theologically, but really…with force. We are undone, unholy, broken to the core by original and personal sin and stand condemned before the justice of God. When this is woven into the fabric of Continue reading “Broken Jars”

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”

Sprinting Toward Death….Finding Life

Death and despair have their strongholds in every culture and among all social classes. The human soul was created to be in fellowship with it’s Creator. However, when men and women have not heard the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, death appears to be the quick exit from pain, agony and emptiness. This is the back drop to the story of mankind in general, and to the following story in particular. (names changed for security reasons)

Lexi is a young lady in a rural village in India. Her young  life had come crashing down as the Doctor informed her she had HIV/AIDS. It was a death sentence. A result from a life of prostitution. However, the pain became even more intense when she was betrayed by close friends who shared her plight with the locals and brought even more pressure to bear upon her heart as she became an outcast to her village. The village Elders asked her to leave and not come back.

As a Hindu and a believer in re-incarnation, Lexi began the journey to bring about change in her life. She desired to end her present life and have a re-incarnation to a better life. She planned to accomplish this by casting herself into the nearby river to be taken down by the whirlpool. She ran, with tears in her eyes and brokenness in her heart….she sprinted toward death! Continue reading “Sprinting Toward Death….Finding Life”

When Leaders Fall

Few things are as taxing in an Elder’s life as when a fellow Leader falls into a sin which demands he step down from ministry and go through reconciliation and restoration. These areas include certain levels of moral failure, dishonesty and doctrinal error. A lot can be said on the qualifications of ‘certain levels,’ but that can be a post in and of itself.

There are many areas which we can discuss, but let’s look at two essential ones. One involves the fallen brother and the other the congregation or local body.

THE FALLEN BROTHER

Purpose is to Restore – Should be obvious, but is easy to overlook and lose sight of this. The purpose is not punitive, but restorative. If our motive ever leaves this, we may perform the steps, but they will not produce life and liberty. Continue reading “When Leaders Fall”

Letter – Jesus is God of White People in USA

The power of the gospel is clearly seen when the preacher of the gospel clearly presents it. Too many times, in America, pastors in the pulpits present Jesus as a western version of a middle class idol. While our churches wonder if they can get new lighting equipment, projectors and nicer pews, millions around the world are dying who have never heard the name or gospel of Jesus. We may say we believe men who do not know Jesus will go to eternal damnation, but we sure do not live like it. We are too busy chasing the American dream and wasting our time and finances on the foolish and lustful pleasures of this life.

When others in foreign lands hear about our Jesus, they do not want Him. And that is good, because most of the time, if they get their understanding of Jesus from religious TV, they are not hearing about the Jesus of the Bible anyway. However, when the simplicity of the gospel is presented, the Holy Spirit is powerfully present to arrest the hearts of man to respond in faith. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Continue reading “Letter – Jesus is God of White People in USA”

Letter From A Prostitute

Recently, through Project India, I was given the honor of speaking to a church in Eastern India via telephone and through an interpreter. This church is in a rural area which had recently experienced grave tragedy through the flooding of a local river. During this speaking engagement a lady, who had never attended church before, came into the service and experienced the simplicity and power of the gospel. Here is her testimony in her own words. (translated to English from Telugu, therefore a little rough, but I will leave it as she wrote it.)

“I am an prostitute…very bad women, never come to church before, today I came because I was suffering with back pain, I have heard that Jesus is healer. As I was entering in to church some preaching in English, Pastor J___ is translating in Telugu. I was trying to find  the person who is preaching, but I could not see him. Afterwards I was asking a lady who is nearby me, she said, Pastor Terry is preaching word, through phone. As I was  Continue reading “Letter From A Prostitute”

Four Roads to Calvary

Down at the crossroads….a popular statement used mainly when someone is giving directions. The same can be said about Calvary. It is a cross-road given to us for directions for understanding our need of forgiveness and God’s offer of salvation. This crossroad is where four eternal truths intersected and revealed answers to the big questions of life.

Every intersection has four roads or paths leading to the crossroad. Regardless which one of the four roads one is traveling, he will cross the intersection. Likewise, Jesus suffering on Calvary’s cross has four roads leading to it, and regardless which difficult issue man is considering, the answer is always at the cross section of these four truths. Continue reading “Four Roads to Calvary”