Archive for October, 2007

Many of you that have visited our blog over the last three months have noticed that we do not write a post on a daily basis and a lot of the posts are not about us. This is by design.

It’s not that we don’t have anything interesting to say about us and our life together.  I like to think we are a cool kind of couple, and fairly interesting individuals as well.  We could entertain everyone if that was our desire but it’s not. 

We believe that the idea for this blog was a God-given one that came to me while I was in Brazil.  Therefore, I am relying on God to direct us in how the site is arranged and what the content is.  Not all of our posts will be God-inspired ideas or writings.  We will occasionally write something that we just wanted to share or just an opinion that we wanted to discuss but most posts will be focused on a topic or theme that I believe God is leading us to write or discuss.  A perfect example is the series I just completed.  I feel strongly that God is not happy with our attempt at fulfilling the Great Commission, and He had me read Revolution in World Missions for a specific reason.  That’s why I would only post every 2-4 days because I believed the information was
God-inspired and important, and I wanted that to be seen and read first and foremost on the site at that time.

We also strongly believe that God wants this site to be an interactive, Christian-driven site where all Christians can come to and discuss their faith, share ideas and thoughts that they believe God has given them, give their inspiring testimonies on how God is working in their lives, share Bible verses, passages or books of the Bible that are important to them or has made a difference in their lives. 

It’s also a site where you can share your prayer requests and know that someone will be praying for you and your concerns.  Want to know more about Gospel for Brazil or know what’s going on in Brazil.  Great, you can do that too because this is our major area of ministry focus.  Hopefully through our site people will become exposed to the awesome work that God is doing in Brazil through Gospel for Brazil, and want to be a part of it.

But most importantly though, we want this to be a site where Non-Christians can come to and be exposed to the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.  We want this to be a site that someone that doesn’t know Christ or has never accepted Christ can come to in a private, pressure-free manner.  Read our posts, look up the Bible verses we share and discuss, read the books we recommend.  If you have questions about God and His Son, Jesus, ask us?  If you would like to receive the gift of Salvation, then let us know and hopefully we can direct you. Don’t forget, we were all sinners when we came into this world so we’ve all had to take that first step of belief and seeking of forgiveness from Christ.

Although we want this to be an interactive site, it is important for all to understand that this site WILL NOT be a forum for atheists, Muslims, or any other person to debate the Word of God nor the existence of His Son, Jesus Christ.  We will not indulge that from anyone. 

So visit regularly and comment often.  We’re excited to hear from everyone.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”   Matthew 28: 18-20

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“Paul cries out in Romans 10: 9-15 for the urgency of preaching Christ.  In his day, the social and economic problems in cities like Corinth and Ephesus and other places were the same or worse than those we face today  Yet the apostles did not set out to establish social relief centers, hospitals or educational institutions.  Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 2: 1-2, “When I came to you, … I determined not to know any thing amoung you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

Paul recognized that Jesus Christ was the ultimate answer to all man’s problems.  Although he was concerned about the poor saints, you cannot miss the primary emphasis of his life and message.

What would Jesus do if He walked into our churches today?

I am afraid that He would not be able to say to us: “You have kept the faith, you have run the race without turning left or right, and you have obeyed My command to reach this world.”  I believe He would go out and look for a whip, because we have made His Father’s house a den of robbers.  If that is so, then we must recognize that the hour is too desperate for us to continue to deceive ourselves.  We are past the point of revival or reformation.  If this Gospel is to be preached in all the world in our lifetime, we must have a Christian, heaven-sent revolution.

But before revolution can come, we must recognize the need for one.  We are like a lost man looking at a road map.  Before we can choose the right road that takes us to our destination, we must determine where we went wrong, go back to that point and start over. So my cry to the Body of Christ is simple:  Turn back to the true Gospel road.  WE need to preach again the whole counsel of God.  Our priority must again be placed on calling men to repentance and snatching them from hell-fire.

Time is short.  If we are not willing to plead in prayer for a mission revolution – and let it start in our own personal lives, homes and churches – we will lose this generation to Satan.”

It is my hope that everyone who has read and followed this hard-hitting series has been challenged to look at themselves, and how they are allowing God to work through them to fulfill the command that Christ gave us in The Great Commission.  Although I have added my own insights and experiences, the series has been centered on the awesome book written by K.P. Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions.  I highly recommend and encourage everyone to read his book.  It will impact you tremendously if you allow it too.  However, if you subscribe to the “Prosperity Gospel”, are a Christian Humanist or are easily offended by the Truth, then this may not be the book for you but if you are serious about reaching the lost souls of this world, then go to www.gospelforasia.com and order a free copy.

The revolution has to start NOW and it has to start with EACH ONE OF US that live as Christians. 

The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.”

 Now if we could only get our family to trust in this basic truth from God, then they’d stop freakin’ out and nagging us about going to the moon…uhhh sorry, Brazil.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”   Matthew 28: 18-20

Fulfilling The Great Commission is God’s ultimate command and hope for mankind.  He does not want to see a single soul lost and sentenced to eternal damnation.  On the other hand though, The Great Commission is also Satan’s primary focus in his work here on earth. 

God’s greatest joy is seeing the lost come to salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, and Satan’s greatest joy is seeing lost souls die without ever accepting that gift of salvation that Christ sacrificed Himself to give to us.  The Great Commission given by Jesus Christ is at the root of the battle that rages between God and evil. 

It’s not God and Satan that have misunderstood, overlooked or dismissed this divine command…it is us, it is today’s Christians.  We have forgotten to make this the foundation on which ALL church ministries and priorities must be built upon.  We relegate missions and the fulfillment of The Great Commission to once a year offerings and summer time trips (usually a trip).  And even those trips are centered on the humanistic aspect of outreach than on the spiritual welfare of the lost souls in that place of work.  Evangelistic mission trips are becoming the exception instead of the norm in today’s churches.  Furthermore, church budgets usually have a larger building and music budget than missions, and that’s the churches that actually have a missions budget.  Many pastors and church members try to stifle any passion for missions that appear to be evangelistic in nature.  Most will not tell you this but they will definitely show you, in not so disguised ways.  I’ve been dealing with this for the past three years.  I am beginning to feel like the Bruce Springsteen song, “One Step Up and Two Steps Back”.

So why is this happening?  It’s simple…because of Satan.  As K.P. Yohannan in Revolution in World Missions explains:

To keep Christian missions off balance, Satan has woven a masterful web of deceit and lies.  He has invented a whole system of appealing half-truths to confuse the Church and ensure that millions will go to hell without ever receiving the Gospel.  Here are a few of his more common inventions:

One, how can we preach the Gospel to a man with an empty stomach?  A man’s stomach has nothing to do with his heart’s condition of being a rebel against the holy God.  The result of this lie is the fact that, during the past 100 years, the majority of mission money has been invested in social work.  I am not saying we should not care for the poor and needy.  This issue I am taking to task is losing our primary focus of preaching the Gospel.

Two, social work – meeting only the physical needs of man – is mission work; in fact, it is equal to preaching.  Is is a crime against lost humanity to go in the name of Christ and missions just to do social work yet neglect calling men to repent – to give up their idols and rebellion – and follow Christ, with all their hearts.  (K.P. references Luke 9:25 and Luke 16: 19-25)

Three, they will not listen to the Gospel unless we offer them something else first.  I have sat on the streets of Bombay with beggars – poor men who very soon would die.  In sharing the Gospel with many of them, I told them I had no material goods to give them but I came to offer eternal life.  I began to share the love of Jesus who died for their souls, about the many mansions in my Father’s house (John 14:2) and the fact that they can go there to hunger and thirst no more.

What a joy it was to see some of them opening their hearts after hearing about the forgiveness of sin they can find in Jesus!  That is exactly what the Bible teaches in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

You, me and the Church have to redirect and refocus our priorities on, first and foremost, fulfilling The Great Commission by ministering to the souls of the lost.  We have to completely reform our thoughts, ministry programs and budgets to center on missions, both short-term and long-term missions.  Our building, music and other ministry and budget areas have to take a backseat to missions.  Catering to the needs of the Christian members have to be the least of our concerns, instead of the opposite that we see in our churches today. 

Is reform and rededication and redirection of our ministries, budgets and our programs going to be easy?  Absolutely not because we have become content and comfortable in our present state of Christianity.  But just remember; a comfortable Christian can be a powerful ally to Satan.  But if we come sincerely before God and put the direction of the Church truly in His hands, He will return us to a mission-minded and Gospel-focused army of Christ-Warriors.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”   Matthew 28: 18-20

Let’s continue with the hindrance of worldliness:

Last November, Christy and I bought a new, 2007 Toyota Camry.  She had had her Corolla for 12 years, and we needed a reliable car that we could take on long trips.  I have a truck that is reliable but limited in space and comfort.  We looked at several other makes but we knew we were going to end of purchasing the Camry.   

However, while looking at the Camry I couldn’t help but walk next door to the Lexus dealership and look at the new models.  Other than BMW, the Lexus is the name in luxury, upscale cars.  I was immediately drawn to the new ES 350’s.  Man, what a sweet little car.  I started the inevitable comparisons, and rationalizations as to why we should spend $12,000 more to get the Lexus.  There were many, and I knew we could afford it, although paying $700 or $800 a month for a car makes you feel a little dizzy so we decided on the Camry.

It’s a great fit for Christy, and she loves it.  But I must admit, that little Lexus keeps calling my name.  I see it everywhere, and the commerials seem to be speaking directly at me.  So once again I’m trying to rationalize (justify would be a better word) why we should trade in our 2007 Camry for the 350. 

And so it goes in America.  It seems we can never be satisfied with what we have, always wanting something more, something bigger, something more expensive.  We are like this in every aspect; cars, houses, boats, etc.  Materialism has become an obsession that even churches cannot escape from.  Our church buildings get larger and more outrageously expensive, our video and audio equipment has to be state-of-the-art, and we get caught up attracting believers and non-believers with all the glitter that we can scatter across our community.  I admit I like having a nice place to worship, and all that new equipment sure does make the music sound good but it has become more about seeking status and the Jones’ approval than reaching the lost.  I don’t have stats on this but I’d say the large percentage of a church’s budget is focused on things that benefit the members of the church than on the lost souls of this world.  In the end though, those things just aren’t important. 

Don’t misunderstand me.  Having, or even wanting, nice things is not wrong or sinful in my mind.  I want nice things also.  God does bless His people with the resources and finances at times to afford us to have some of our wants but I don’t think He wants our desires to interfere with doing His work.  When we are driving nice cars, living in expensive houses and buying one “toy” after another, and we’re not tithing, first and foremost, and providing support and assistance to those in need and those lost souls, then we are failing God.  We have to have a balance in our lives financially.  We have a responsibility to give out of our finances and blessings.  God blesses us so we can BE blessings to others.

Going beyond even finances, worldliness can satuarate our minds, hearts, souls and become an attitude that does not glorify God.  Christ plainly tells us in the Bible that we are not to be apart of this world.  When we accept Jesus into our lives, we are to be separate from this world. We are to carry ourselves and practice our faith in a manner that clearly shows that we are different, that we are disciples of Christ.

I’ll honestly admit that living within this world is very appealing.  Who doesn’t want to be filthy rich, powerful and famous?  Who doesn’t want to live how they choose to live without there being consequences?  Who needs the guilt trip anyway, right? 

And just in case we start feeling a little guilty for being so worldly and selfish, along comes the media to stroke the ego and sooth the conscience.  I mean, movies, tv shows, magazines and even commercials promote unsafe sex, lust, adultery, homosexuality, bigotry, selfishness, abortion, wealth, power and a host of other sinful ways, so it must be OKAY then.  Never mind that Satan has hijacked many media sources and used them to wage war on our souls.  We’ve become so desensitized to the sin around us that we stop recognizing it.  By the time that happens, we’re so far into the world that it takes the hand of God to pull us out, and He will but we have to recognize our worldliness first, and then come to Him with an repentant and humble spirit.

Once that happens, we can then focus on becoming obedient servants of Christ so we can begin to fulfill The Great Commission.  When that happens, we will begin to reap a bountiful harvest of lost souls for the Kingdom.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”   Matthew 28: 18-20

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Let’s explore the hindrance of unbelief.

 ” But I have come to see that many evangelical Christians do not really believe the Word of God, especially when it talks about hell and judgement.  Instead, they selectively accept only the portions that allow them to continue living in their current lifestyles.

It is painful to think about hell and judgement.  I understand why preachers don’t like to talk about it, because I don’t either.  It is so much easier to preach that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” or to focus on the many delightful aspects of “possibility thinking” and the “word of faith” that brings health, wealth and happiness…no one more beautifully demonstrated them (grace and love) than our Lord Jesus.  Yet in His earthly ministry, He made more references to hell and judgement than He did heaven.  Jesus lived with the reality of hell, and He died on Calvary because He knew it was real and coming to everyone who doesn’t turn to God in this life.

If we knew the horrors of the potential judgment that hangs over us – if we really believed in what is coming – how different would we live.  Why aren’t Christians living in obedience to God?  Because of their unbelief.”    K.P. Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions

Do you believe in Satan?  Do you believe in Hell?  Do you believe that MILLIONS are dying everyday and going to Hell to live in eternal damnation with Satan? 

I realize that it’s difficult sometimes to think about someone thousands a miles away in another country that we’ve never been to, and feel compassion for their souls.  We don’t personally know them, and they’ve never directly influenced our lives in any way.  We’ve become increasingly void of meaningful people in our lives.  Most people’s lives consist only of their immediate family, friends (usually few) and co-worker’s.  Everyone else is just “around” us.  This eventually begins to close our eyes to the people around us that are lost and hurting.  

I’ll play along and give you that “excuse”.  I’m guilty too.

So let’s look at this from within your sphere of meaningful people.  Think of someone very close to you that’s not saved, that doesn’t know and live for Jesus.  Now, let’s pretend that you just got a phone call giving you the devastating news that they had died in a horrible crash.  What would your immediate thought be?  Would it be, my wife/child/mom/dad/brother/best friend just died and is now in hell with Satan, forever damned to live in a bottomless pit where they are separated from God for all eternity?

Think about this because how you answer will tell yourself where you are in your faith.  It will tell you how you view the truth of satan and hell. It will reveal to you whether you have started to believe the lies that satan is spreading about eternity; there is no heaven and hell, it’s just now and this life so live it up, God wouldn’t really damn you to such an evil and treacherous place because He loves you and He is kind, and besides, hell isn’t that bad, and so on and so forth.  I’m sure you’ve heard the lies about satan and hell spoken by many.

Listen, hell is real and you better believe that Satan is real.  This is not a dress rehearsal and this life isn’t “all there is.”  We get ONE CHANCE at eternal salvation.  That’s it.  ONE

We have to examine our beliefs about Satan or else we cannot fulfill The Great Commission.  The Great Commission is based on the realness of Hell.  Jesus KNOWS the judgment that waits if we don’t receive Him, and He wants desperately for us to reach everyone lost so they will not suffer this fate. 

We have to be His soldiers in fulfilling The Great Commission. 

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”   Matthew 28: 18-20      

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But I would submit to you that the single most important hindrance to world evangelization right now is the lack of total involvement by the Body of Christ.  The three major reasons why the Body of Christ falls short in facilitating world evangelization are the sins of pride, unbelief and worldliness.”     K.P. Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions

Part IV will look at the hindrance of pride.

PRIDE

“In Christian dogma, pride (or vanity) is excessive belief in one’s own abilities, that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is listed as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Even outside a religious environment, pride may constitute a weakness in an individual, since somebody who is proud is likely to be far more affected by public humiliation or defeat than somebody who is humble.

Arrogance is a particularly aggressive form of pride. An arrogant person is not only exceedingly confident in their own ability and value, but actively seeks to belittle other, “lesser”, people in order to demonstrate it.”   From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Why did God destroy Sodom?  Most Christians, including me, would say that it was the city’s blatant immorality.  But if we look at Ezekiel 16: 49-50, the true reason is revealed:

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strenghten the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty, and comitted abominations before me:  therefore I took them away as I saw good.

It was pride that led to Sodom’s downfall, and I’m afraid that it will ultimately lead to our downfall.  We are a very prideful nation, made up of prideful individuals.  One such group of prideful individuals I know of are called, Christians.  It’s tough being humble when we are the children of God, right?  We have figured it out, you know…the true secret to peace, joy, contentment, hope and love.  We are members of the spiritual royal family.  We know Jesus and he knows us.  He even lives within us.  I mean, that’s reason enough to be prideful isn’t it?

Satan’s primary attack weapon against Christians, I believe, is that of pride.  The more we read the Bible, the more we go to church and participate in ministries, the more we move away from our total dependence on God and move toward our independence of God. We become choir members, Sunday School teachers, committee chairs and countless other things within the church.  We begin to feel important, and a little self-righteous.  We start thinking that we can view others with a spiritual condenscion because of a faith.

In essence, we started losing the humility or humbleness that we had when we were born again.  We were really clueless, and a little confused, with how this whole “saved” business worked.  We didn’t know scriptures or commands or the difference between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (they are actually one and the same?   Wow…I didn’t know that!)  So it went when we were infants in our faith. We were totally dependent on God to teach us and guide us. 

Then we grew and forgot to be reliant on God.  We stopped being obedient to God.  We became arrogant instead of humble.  We became self-righteous instead of repentant.  We became, simply…better than everyone else, and when you are superior to everyone else you begin to grow blind to those that aren’t superior.  They are inferior.  They become a part of the scenary.  Our hearts grow cold and numb to the hurt around us.  We no longer see the needs of those around us.

Most importantly, we forget that we were born sinners, condemned to eternal hell because of our unworthiness.  We forget we were heathens who were saved only because God showed mercy on us.  He didn’t have to, and we certainly didn’t deserve it.  He simply loved us and granted forgiveness because we asked. 

Unfortunatley, we are all prideful in nature but that does not justify Christian’s prideful ways.  There are MILLIONS and MILLIONS and MILLIONS of people dying everyday and going to Hell because we have forgotten that we have been given a Gift.  We get so caught up in our own self-importance but it’s at a great cost. We have to take accountability for the lost souls that are dying.  God will hold us accountable.  Each and everyone of us. 

So, how do we overcome this?  We simply return to God in repentance, and become humble in His eyes.  We begin to see all the hurt in this world, and we ask Him to take an inventory of our souls, our spirits.  We thank Him everyday, and then we get back to being servants to the lost and needy.  We start witnessing to their souls and telling them of the precious gift of Salvation that is awaiting them through Christ.  We shut up talking about Jesus and start acting like Jesus commanded us to.  We start fulfilling The Great Commission.  We sponsor a missionary.  We go to Brazil or Africa or Thailand.  We sponsor others to give and to go. We become diligent Prayer Warriors. 

I know, it’s going to a challenge isn’t it?  It is for me on a daily basis.  But with a humble and grateful spirit and a reliance on God, we will get there by His Grace.