Archive for January, 2008

One of the 10 Commandments clearly states, “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”  This is a good Commandment don’t you think?  No one likes to have something of theirs stolen but we’ve all had something stolen from us and it bites, doesn’t it!?  It illicits many sinful thoughts that if carried out could land you in prison for quite a few years. 

There are all types of characters that seem to think they can take what they want, when they want.  I’m sure we all know or have known a thief in our lifetimes.  I have!  In fact, I know a few hundred of them (more actually), and I go to church with them or are around them on a regular basis (I used to be one of them as well)   What!?!?!?!??!!  I’m kidding right? Actually….NO!  Let me explain by quoting scriptures from Malachi:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” 10:3

Malachi 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.”
 

On www.bible.com, Pastor Eddie Cude states: What is the tithe? It is the “gateway for the believer into the covenant of blessings.” In the Hebrew “maaser” or “maasrah,” is translated tenth, or tenth part, and in Greek “apodekatoo” and in both, it means a payment or giving or receiving of the tenth.

Tithing is more than a command from God.  It is an exercise in obedience and faithfulness, and it is a reflection of our hearts.  Look at anyone that you know and tell me how they spend their money, and I could tell you confidently what is important to them…and what isn’t.

As Christians, we are failing miserably at fulfilling this command (among others).  I would guess, optimistically, that less than 20% of all Christians are truly tithing 10% of their income (gross).  In essence, more than 80% of all Christians are STEALING from God.  You can hem and haw and spit and sputter all you want but if you are a Christian and you are giving less than 10%, you are stealing from God.  In truth, all things and everything belongs to God. He owns it ALL.  Whatever we have has been gifted to us from Him, and it should be an honor and privilege to give joyfully to Him.  EVERYONE can tithe according to God’s command, and if you are not tithing then you are hindering the church’s ability to effectively reach lost souls and fulfill the Great Commission.  Churches all over America are being starved financially by selfish and greedy individuals who are more concerned with building their “kingdoms” instead of God’s Kingdom.  They have no problem with dropping a $20 in the plate and then spending thousands on frivolous “toys” that reach exactly zero lost souls.  They further insult God by giving more to non-Christian charities and do-good organizations that have nothing to do with Christ. 

As Christians we have to understand that as Christ’s children, we have a tremendous responsibility to be wise stewards of His resources so that the lost can be reached with His Truth and Gift of Salvation.  There are BILLIONS that have never heard the name Jesus and there are tens of thousands that are willing to go to these people but are being hindered and even kept from doing God’s Will because there isn’t enough money to support them. 

So how do we correct this and start living in God’s Will concerning tithing and giving?  Simple:

1. Pray to God asking forgiveness for your selfish attitude and actions concerning your finances and ask Him to take complete control of your life and your finances.  Tell Him that you will be an obedient and faithful servant, willing to live as He Wills.

2. Begin to SHOW Him that you will be obedient to His Commands:  start tithing IMMEDIATELY 10% (that’s gross).

3. Stop giving money to any charity or organization that isn’t fulfilling the Great Commission and building God’s Kingdom.  Our concern is saving lost souls.  There’s enough lost souls with plenty of money that can support non-Christian charities.  Christian ministries reach lost souls and cater to their worldly needs, all in the name of Jesus Christ.

 4. Make a financial committment to sponsor at least ONE native missionary somewhere in the world.  Preferrably through Gospel for Brazil (www.gospelforbrazil.org more for information on how to do this.).  This is the organization that we are personally involved in and God is doing awesome things there in Brazil.   

If we start here, with humble and obedient hearts, then we will start to see tremendous spiritual growth within ourselves, and the Christian church will become a “Soul-Reaching Powerhouse”.  The stakes are just too high for us to continue giving Christ lip service about being faithful and obedient servants who want “only to love you and do your will.”  The lip service will get you about as far as it got Milli-Vanilli, and it will cause hell to be overflowing with lost souls because we couldn’t and wouldn’t reach them.

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Ever wondered what $123 million will buy for the Kingdom of God?  I have been pondering this question for some time now and I thought I’d do a small comparasion sampling:

$123,000,000

will support 513 Full-Time, native missionaries for 20 years each.  That’s at a conservative $12,000/yr./missionary.  Gospel for Brazil supports one full-time missionary couple in Ubauna for $12,000/year and that includes all their expenses, and some also goes to church activities or supplies.  It is even less in some areas of the world.

will plant or build 2,460 new churches around the world at $50,000/church.  Again, this is a liberal estimate because many could be built for less.

will feed and educate 34,166 children for 10 years through an Adopt-A-Child program at $30/mo.

will buy 1,171,428 new bicycles ($105 per) that would allow native missionaries (especially throughout Asia) to spread the Gospel to neighboring and remote villages.

will buy 41,000,000 new bibles for new believers to read and study the Word of God.  A bible can be purchased for only $3 through Gospel for Asia to give to Christians on the Asian continent.

will build 41,000 new wells or water sources for a village at a liberal cost of $3,000/well.

Now, let’s take it a step further and see how many people can be reached for Christ for $123 million:

-Let’s say that each missionary we are supporting F/T for 20 years reaches just 100 people that become Christians over their time.

513 missionaries x 100 New Christians = 51,300 people

Personally, I think that this is a very conservative number.  Taking it further, say that each of those 51,300 people reach just 3 new people for the Kingdom. 

51,300 x 3 = 153,900 New Christians reached from the original 513 F/T missionaries

-Church growth guesstimate:  2,460 new churches with only 75 members per would serve 184,500 members of God’s kingdom. 

And these are just a very few (conservative) examples of how much $123 million could buy and do for the Kingdom of God outside of America where there are billions that have never heard the name of Jesus.

Now for comparasion, let’s look at what $123 million will buy through the American church:

-A couple hundred acres of land.

-A Christian Retirement Community (400+ units).

-One Nursing Home, One Alzheimer’s Facility and One Assisted Living Facility

-One 1,200 seat capacity church (lets not aim too high)

-One K-12 Christian School with an extremely nice athletic facility.

-One church in Rio de Jenairo, Brazil.  The land will cost $23 million.  Membership is unknown but I’d like to see around 100,000 minimally for that money.

American Christians have gotten away from what our true purpose in the eyes of God is:  to fulfill the Great Commission. We have become selfish and greedy with our time and money and tend to put the brunt of it into programs and ministries that just support and benefit the Christians within the church, not the lost outside the church.  This isn’t to say that we don’t have some very good ministries in our churches because we do but herein lies the problem…Satan is working diligently throughout the church to distort our perceptions of what God’s Will is until GOOD has become the standard.  God isn’t satisfied with “GOOD”.  He expects the absolute BEST, GREATEST we can offer Him and His Kingdom.  He expects us to be good and faithful stewards of His resources and we are doing a poor job of it.  Most don’t even tithe anything, much less 10 % of their gross and we support all these charities and organizations that have nothing to do with fulfilling the Great Commission.   

We have got to stop settling for “GOOD” because it is an insult to our Savior to think He will expect anything less than GREAT from us, and will not punish us for allowing far, far, far too many of His children to die and go to hell.  The blood of these lost souls isn’t on Christ, it’s on our hands.  He has fulfilled His Will. 

So the next time we start to pay out $123 million for a “GOOD” ministry, let’s pray asking God for His guidance on how we can spend it on something “GREAT” that will benefit His Kingdom in a way that makes Him smile brighter than the stars can shine, and saves hundreds of thousands of lost souls instead of “scores”.

 

What A Child Sees

Posted: January 15, 2008 in Christianity, Faith, Jesus, Life
Tags: , , , ,

A child awakes from another night of sleep, and anxiously surveys his surroundings to determine if he is still in his bed, in his home.  After a few moments, he decides that his anxiety is, on this morning, just a false whisper in his mind.  He smilingly sighs, gets up and stumbles out of his room to see what life will bring today. 

Life is all to eager to show him what it will bring today as he walks past mom’s room and sees her asleep in bed, passed out amongst last night’s empty beer cans that seem too many to count, in the same clothes that she had worn the day before.  He stands there for a moment, still and barely breathing, hoping to see just one breath from her that would tell him she is okay.  Just as he gets his confirmation, he hears his baby sister, only a few weeks old, crying uncontrollably.  He leaves mom’s room and walks down the short hallway to his sister’s room.  She is in her crib, and her crying is getting louder.  He looks around and sees her bottle on the floor, almost empty.  He knows it’s probably formula from last night, and he knows it would be a waste of time and effort to try and rouse mom from her drunk, so he picks up the bottle and gives it to her anyway.  She quiets down but he knows it is a temporary silence.

Having fed sis, he is reminded that he is hungry and needs to eat because his last meal had been devoured at school the day before.  He thinks about the pizza he had and wishes to himself that today wasn’t Saturday.  No school, no eating he figures.  He continues walking down the hall, stepping over the trash and clothes that are piled on the floor, greeted each step by his “pets”, the little brown bugs that seem to be everywhere.  He doesn’t know what they’re called but guesses that they are kinda like dogs or cats, except just a little smaller and harder to catch.  He reaches the kitchen and sees a sink full of dishes with dried food, an almost-empty milk jug sitting on the table, emitting that all-to-familiar spoilage odor.  He looks in the cabinets, the freezer and then the refrigerator.  There are no surprises.  He sees what he always sees….a room that only pretends to be a kitchen.  He realizes  the day will be just another day without food unless mom can meet someone at the bar tonight that will buy her a nice dinner.  He doesn’t get his hopes up but knows that mom will sometimes bring them leftovers in a “doggie bag.”  

He leaves the kitchen and walks out on the porch to get the weather forecast for the day. It’s warm and sunny.  Finally, something goes his way. He looks around and sees the usual group of men sitting in front of their homes, drinking beer, smoking their “little cigars” and doing their deals.  He also sees his friends walking through the neighborhood.  Mom is asleep, sis is in her crib eating and there’s no food in the home so he figures he’ll just hang with them today.  He steps off the porch to leave just as he hears his sister crying again.  He stops and turns to go back inside because he knows mom won’t be up until this afternoon.  He picks up sister and sits with her in the living room, just staring at a blank TV screen, noticing that the bruises on his body match the bruises on his sister’s body.  He looks around the home for something to hang his hope onto.  He looks and looks but sees nothing that would suggest “it’ll get better” like mom often tells him so they just sit together, quietly holding each other.

                                 _______________________________

Unfortunately, this is the reality that many, many, many children face on a daily basis here in America.  Children, at the tender, innocent ages of four and five (many times even younger) see things that took me many years to even KNOW existed.  Not only do I know this now, I often see or hear about these things on a daily basis. 

Our children are being surrounded and engulfed in darkness, and they are losing their spirits along the way.  They see many things that children should never have to see even once but the one thing that they don’t normally see on a daily, or even routine basis is the presence of a FATHER. Just as we need our Heavenly Father to guide us and teach us how to be Christ-like servants, children need a father here on earth that will set the moral standard within the home.  A husband, a father is the head of the house just as Christ is the head of the church and His people, and when that father is missing or walking outside God’s Will the foundation within the home and the family is weak and susceptible to the storms and tremors of this world. 

There are many wonderful, hard-working single mothers that are “doing the best they can” and are attempting to raise their children in loving, Christian homes but they are overwhelmed by the monumental task of being both the father and mother.  They shouldn’t have to do this and it is not what God intended.  Unfortunately though, too many fathers are involved in activities that take them far from God’s Will and their roles within the family such as drugs, criminal activities, work and homosexuality. 

The right way is usually the hardest way but fathers have to return to their Father with repentant hearts, and then they need to take their rightful place within their families.  They need to turn from their drugs, their homosexual lifestyles, their ambitions, their pride and their arrogance.  They need to take their children to church and pray with them and read the Bible with them.  They need to teach accountability and responsibility and they need to speak God’s Truth to them, regardless of how unpopular it is.  They need to be the rock that the children use to build their firm foundations with instead of the rock that crushes their hope, their futures.

This is imperative because a world that is without its Heavenly and worldly fathers is a world that will play Satan’s puppet in his quest to rid this world of faith, hope and love.

Yesterday, For The Bible Tells Me So, was screened here in Savannah.  The basic premise of this film documentary is, “Does God condemn homosexuals?”  The film also explored how the relationship of the homosexual individual to the person “condemning” reflects their point of view.  Simply, if my son is gay, then would God still condemn him, and will that little fact change my point-of-view?

After reading an article on www.connectsavannah.com, “WWJD?” concerning the movie, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What’s all the confusion about?”  As a Christian, i.e. believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I have no confusion on whether homosexuality is wrong and does God condemn a person for this lifestyle choice.

Yes and Yes!!!  The Bible clearly states in:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NIV): “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

It is not God that has confused and distorted and watered down the Gospel.  It is mankind because we have allowed Satan to whisper and whisper and whisper in our ears lies such as, “Homosexuality isn’t wrong, God made you this way” without seeking God’s face and God’s Word about this subject and others such as abortion.  We have gotten so focused on ourselves and so weak-minded and thin-skinned that we don’t want to face any truth that doesn’t justify or rationalize our wrong and sinful choices.  God has not wavered, we have.  Pastors have become so “politically correct” and “approval centered” that they have stopped telling homosexuals, “I love you and I will not condemn you but God will and He makes it clear that your lifestyle is wrong and sinful and He will judge you for it.” 

You see, as Christians, Jesus has given us the command to “love thy neighbor as thyself and as you love God” and to “go and reach all the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ so they can receive My gift of salvation.”  (my paraphrasing).  He did not ask, nor tell, us to judge and condemn anyone.  That is God’s sole purpose.  He is the great Judge.  Therefore, Christians are to love all persons regardless of their choices or lifestyles.  We are to welcome them into our churchs and to meet their spiritual needs to the best of our limited humanly abilities.  This does not equate to condoning their choices.  If a Christian or unbeliever is participating in sinful nature, then we have a responsibility to “gently correct.” 

However, too many people are under the false, and quite frankly, ignorant assumption that Christians are “judging” because we tell homosexuals their behavior is wrong in God’s eyes.  That is NOT judging.  That is simply stating a biblical truth given to us by God. 

So…..did I see the movie?  No!  There was no need for me to sit two hours in a theater listening to “arguments” for or against homosexuality.  You see…I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, and He has already given us the answer to this question thousands of years ago.  Additionally, would my view change if my son was gay?  Absolutely not!!!!!!!  I would lovingly tell him that I do not condone or support his lifestyle and it is wrong under God’s law and he will face condemnation from God in the end if he doesn’t change his lifestyle but  I would continue to love him as Christ loved us, unconditionally. 

 Note:  For greater insight and more biblical verses concerning homosexuality, go to:  www.bible.com.

 

On New Year’s Eve, we watched the DVD, Amazing Grace about the life of William Wilberforce, and his journey to end the Slave Trade in Britian.  Mr. Wilberforce had found himself drawn back to our Savior, Jesus Christ and he often sought counsel from his pastor, John Newton, a former slave ship captain that had turned to God and devoted the remainder of his life to serving him.  Many may not know John Newton but most will know the song that he penned about his salvation and the Mercy of Christ and the favor God showed on Newton, Amazing Grace. 

During one dialogue between Wilberforce and Newton late in the movie, he turned to Wilberforce, blind with age and said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.”

What a simple but extremely powerful statement!!!  I have thought about this since I watched the movie, and I’ve concluded that this statement by a former slave ship captain says more than most sermons I’ve heard preached in my lifetime.  It really is that simple isn’t it?  We can know every word in the Bible, every story ever written, pray all day long and attend church everytime the doors open but it all means nothing if we don’t realize that we are great sinners and Christ is a great Savior, and that we are totally dependent on His Grace and Mercy.

If for some reason you doubt this then please read this testimony from Audrey in Ubauna, Brazil:

                            ________________________

Holy Sardines vs. Voodoo People (by Joe Carr)

xmas-food.jpgEarly on Christmas morning (6:30!) I received what at first appeared to be a frantic phone call from Audrey. Here’s what he said:

I just had to call to let you know what happened late yesterday (Christmas Eve)! Some of the kids who come the the children’s worship every Saturday come from families that have macumba (voodoo) temples. We knew they were needy and took some of the Christmas baskets to them yesterday.

They were really quite perplexed, wanting to know why we were doing this. I mean, it’s kind of like them vs. us. We told them that their kids love Jesus and are so excited to learn about him and worship him. We also knew that they were having a difficult time financially. We knew how much Jesus loves them and so we wanted to help out with no strings attached.

If you could have seen just seen their faces!

You’ll never guess what happened?

They wanted to know more about this Jesus we talked about — he was so different than the one they had heard about from other Christians. The end result is that they accepted him on the spot and declared that from that moment forward that their macumba terreiros (voodoo temples) were closed! This was not just one case, but TWO separate cases!

And you thought that you were simply trying to give some hungry kids some beans, rice and sardines!

                                ______________________

Yes, Lord, I am a great sinner and You are a Great Savior!!!