From Allah to Jesus

BehaTraining church planters in India, raising support for orphans and missionaries, writing gospel tracks, and preaching through technology can be laborious, especially when all of that is on top of leading a church here in the USA. However, whenever I get a testimony like I just received, all I can do is fall on my knees before the Lord and thank Him for allowing me to be a small part of His work of the great commission.

This is the testimony I recently received from Beha*, who is pictured to the left. Read through the entire story and you’ll see the miraculous change that only Christ can do in the hearts of people. The entire testimony is below, including the words she capitalized for emphasis. Continue reading “From Allah to Jesus”

The World Will Hate You

chainsIn our day of political correctness, ‘likability’ has become a golden calf. This has become true in many of our churches and pulpits. We must seek to go out as “lambs among wolves” when sharing the gospel, however, we must be careful that we do not dumb down the message beyond recognition.

There are a couple of issues that we must clearly understand in order to prevent us from watering down the gospel and getting caught up in the swell of cultural softness. We must never take the nails, thorns or splinters away from the scandal of the cross as we share, but we must make sure our presentation of those truths are not muddled by the ugliness of carnality and bitterness. Nothing is a ugly as a preacher sharing the glorious truths of Christ with harsh bitterness, frustration or control. It makes a mockery out of the message and fails to present the God of the Scriptures.

If we stand for the truth and Spirit of the gospel, we will be persons who are:

  • Loving
  • Gentle
  • Courteous
  • Kind
  • Tenderhearted
  • Respectful
  • Truthful
  • Honoring others

Equally so, when we stand for the gospel we will also be: Continue reading “The World Will Hate You”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Persecution and the Power of the Gospel

Sometimes, it is in the midst of persecution when Jesus reveals Himself as the Great Shepherd…protecting his sheep with His faithful hands. That is certainly true in this story. Through PROJECT INDIA we have planted 19 churches in the three months of December ’11 through February ’12, with well over 500 new souls brought to Christ and added to these fellowships. We knew it was only a matter of time before the enemy would show his colors and begin to bring persecution. Several events have taken place, but I want to share a special story which is still unfolding. (Names are changed for security reasons!)

In one of the villages Bro. Anand, our PROJECT INDIA church planter, led Mary to Christ. Her salvation, like many others in the villages we are reaching, is from a life of idolatry in the religious practice of Hinduism. However, Mary’s story goes beyond that…as her father is the Brahma Priest who leads worship in one of the local Hindu Temples. Therefore, her family is from the highest caste in Indian culture and has little to do with the lower castes. Continue reading “Persecution and the Power of the Gospel”

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”