June 2008


“Here am I. Send me” Isaiah 6:8
– The Prophet Isaiah

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:34, 35). – Jesus Christ

“Why do what others can and will do, when there is so much that needs to be done that others will not do?”
– Dawson Trotman, Founder of Navigators

“Obedience to the call of Christ nearly always costs everything to two people- the one who is called, and the one who loves that one.”
– Oswald Chambers

“I feel now, that Arabia could easily be evangelized within the next thirty years if it were not for the wicked selfishness of Christians.”
– Samuel Zwemer

“The question is not whether you will die; but the question is, “Will the death you die bear much fruit?”.
– John Piper

“His authority on earth allows us to dare to go to all the nations. His authority in heaven gives us our only hope of success. And His presence with us leaves us no other choice.”
– John Stott

“Today Christians spend more money on dog food than missions.”
– Leonard Ravenhill

“With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”
– James Hudson Taylor

“Whom God would use greatly He will hurt deeply.”
– A.W. Tozer

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon

“While vast continents are shrouded in darkness… the burden of proof lies upon you to show that the circumstances in which God has placed you were meant by God to keep you out of the foreign mission field.”– Ion Keith Falconer

“A tiny group of believers who have the gospel keep mumbling it over and over to themselves. Meanwhile, millions who have never heard it once fall into the flames of eternal hell without ever hearing the salvation story.” – K.P. Yohannon

“The Indian is making an amazing discovery, namely that Christianity and Jesus are not the same that they may have Jesus without the system that has been built up around Him in the West.”– E. Stanley Jones

“In faith, there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.”– Blaise Pascal

“If every Christian is already considered a missionary, then all can stay put where they are, and nobody needs to get up and go anywhere to preach the gospel. But if our only concern is to witness where we are, how will people in unevangelized areas ever hear the gospel? The present uneven distribution of Christians and opportunities to hear the gospel of Christ will continue on unchanged.”– C. Gordon Olson

“Missionaries are like a pile of manure. When you spread them out, they do some good. But if you let them pile up in one place, they begin to stink.”– (unknown)

“Why do we insist on building the largest and most impressive structures in our city when people on the other side of town are hungry, jobless and worshipping in storefronts?”– K.P. Yohannon

“Every step in the progress of missions is directly traceable to prayer.”– A.T. Pierson

“We have a God who delights in impossibilities.”– Andrew Murray
“He is no fool gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 
-Jim Elliot 
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“The happiest state of a Christian is the holiest state. Just as there is the most heat nearest to the sun, so there is the most happiness closest to Christ.

No Christian enjoys comfort when his eyes are fixed on falsehood–he finds no satisfaction unless his soul is quickened in the ways of God. The world may find happiness elsewhere, but he cannot.

I do not blame ungodly men for rushing to their pleasures. Why should I? Let them have their fill. That is all they have to enjoy. 

Christians must seek their delights in a higher sphere than the tasteless trifles or sinful enjoyments of the world. Empty pursuits are dangerous to renewed souls.

No Christian is safe when his soul is lazy, and his God is far from him. Every Christian is always safe as to the great matter of his standing in Christ, but he is not safe as regards his experience in holiness and communion with Jesus in this life.

Satan does not often attack a Christian who is living near to God. It is when the Christian departs from God, becomes spiritually starved, and tries to feed on lies that the devil discovers his moment of advantage. He may sometimes stand foot to foot with the child of God who is active in his Master’s service, but the battle is generally brief. He who slips as he goes down into the Valley of Humiliation will find that with every false step he invites the devil’s attack. O for grace to walk humbly with our God!”

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Don’t be afraid that your life will end, 
be afraid that it will never begin.”

Grace Hansen

Charles Wesley, younger brother of John…One of the greatest hymn writers of all time.

(Article By John Piper August 11, 1991)

On July 18, 1738, two months after his conversion, Charles Wesley did an amazing thing. He had spent the week witnessing to inmates at the Newgate prison with a friend named “Bray,” who he described as “a poor ignorant mechanic.” One of the men they spoke to was “a black slave that had robbed his master.” He was sick with a fever and was condemned to die.

Wesley and Bray asked if they could be locked in overnight with the prisoners who were to be executed the next day. That night they spoke the gospel. They told the men that “one came down from heaven to save lost sinners.” They described the sufferings of the Son of God, his sorrows, agony, and death.

The next day, the men were loaded onto a cart and taken to Tyburn. Charles went with them. Ropes were fastened around their necks so that the cart could be driven off and leave them swinging in the air to choke to death.

The fruit of Wesley’s and Bray’s night-long labor was astonishing. Here’s what Wesley wrote:

They were all cheerful; full of comfort, peace, and triumph; assuredly persuaded Christ had died for them, and waited to receive them into paradise. . . . The black . . . saluted me with his looks. As often as his eyes met mine, he smiled with the most composed, delightful countenance I ever saw.

We left them going to meet their Lord, ready for the bridegroom. When the cart drove off, not one stirred, or struggled for life, but meekly gave up their spirits. Exactly at twelve they were turned off. I spoke a few suitable words to the crowd; and returned, full of peace and confidence in our friends’ happiness. That hour under the gallows was the most blessed hour of my life. (Journal, vol 1, 120-123)

Two things amaze and inspire me in this story. One is the astonishing power of Wesley’s message about the truth and love of Christ. All the condemned prisoners were converted. And they were so deeply converted in one night that they could look death in the face (without any long period of “follow-up” or “discipling”) and give up their spirits with confidence that Christ would receive them. O, for such power and witness!

The other thing that amazes me is the sheer fact that Wesley went to the prison and asked to be locked up all night with condemned criminals. It was a huge risk. These men had nothing more to lose if they killed another person. Wesley had no supervisor telling him that this was his job. He was not a professional prison minister. It would have been comfortable and pleasant to spend the evening at home conversing with friends. Why did he go?

God put is it in his heart to go. And Wesley yielded. Wesley believed in hell and heaven. He believed that what these prisoners believed from their hearts on that night would determine forever their eternal destiny. It was worth risking his life for. O that I might discern the leading of God when something outside my usual path is called for.

 

I was listening to a James MacDonald Sermon yesterday on the radio.

He was talking about how he always thought that when scripture says, “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”  it meant that once unbelievers see Jesus they will be like, “Oh, I see now and He was there all the time and I never saw Him.”

Pastor James went on to say, “It’s not like that at all! Just like in their life on earth they denied Christ and never repented or recognized Him as God neither will they when He returns. Unbelievers will be forced to their knees; they will not go down willingly.” That’s why there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, because in life that is what they were doing…gnashing their teeth, rejecting God. They will remain in that state for eternity-eternally rejecting God.

I haven’t searched the scriptures about it yet, and I am not sure I agree but I thought it was interesting. I had never heard that take on it before.

As I listened to a news story about yet another celebrity who had succumb to a drug addiction relapse I realized, “We are not meant to be worshiped.” Wonder why stars kill themselves or shave their heads for no reason? Humans were never meant to be worshiped. 

Mankind is wired to worship. We long to worship a caring, all-powerful, all-knowing, protector and lover of our souls. We crave for someone to love us completely and unconditionally. Typically, we put a human in this position. We worship them and they inevitably fall from the pedestal we placed them on. They withdraw under the pressure and expectations of our worship.

So why do our celebrities go mad? Imagine the pressure of being worshipped by millions of people! They simultaneously crave adoration and yet are terrified of not living up to impossible, societal expectations of being perfect and perfect-looking. Anorexia, drug-addiction and arrests ensue and we drool over their pathetic lives 24 hours a day. A sick and seductive cycle.

Christians are just as prone to worship idols as unbelievers, aren’t we? Having been rescued from captivity and we straddle the line, worshiping God and our idols with a divided heart.

“They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.”  2 Kings 17:33

He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; 
       he cannot save himself, or say, 
       “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

Isaiah 44:20


 

I am learning all sorts of things about Middle Eastern culture. As one author put it,

“The Bible is not a Western book. Yes it is Pan-Cultural and the truths apply to all peoples, but the origins, stories and forms are eastern.” 

“A Muslim’s Heart” by Edward Hoskins

It is fascinating! The more I learn the more I realize the biases through which I have been internalizing scripture. In the Bible, when people’s reactions don’t add up I tend to skip over certain passages. I often do not understand the way some people react and it puzzles me. Reactions that seem cryptic to me are now making more sense as I learn about about the Eastern mentality. 

Punctuality 
For example, in Eastern society punctuality is not important. If I had dinner plans with a friend across town and an unexpected guest dropped by my house, it would be rude to leave the unexpected guest! So even if I was 3 hours late, the friend I was meeting across town would not be offended and would even assume that I had had an unexpected guest drop by!

Being late is (to me) the ultimate insult. It’s like saying, “You weren’t important enough to be on time for.” However, in Eastern cultures they believe “only servants arrive on time. Being 15 to 30 minutes late is actually preferred.” 

Honor
For a Muslim, honor or “saving face” is everything. “It is more important than logic, truth and life itself.”
Sin is not taken as seriously as in the West. While Westerners view sin as an internal, moral failure, those in the East view sin as wrong but not as bad as getting caught in the sin!

One Biblical example is when Moses is giving his farewell address to the Israelites in Deu 3: 23-26. He says,

“At that time I pleaded with the LORD : “O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.” But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”

Two other times in Deuteronomy Moses puts the blame on the Israelites and not in himself. In Eastern cultures, blame-shifting is an art. 

Hospitality
If you visit a friend’s home and admire something they own they feel obligated to give it to you!
If I take home leftovers in a container I must replace it with some other food when I return it. 

Sencerity
Repitition is very important in the East. (Just like when Jesus and the Lord repeat things three times throughout scripture.) If I say something once it means I don’t really mean it and I am just being polite. I have to repeat something at least two or three times to be taken seriously! 

In the East, if someone invites me over to their house and they only ask once then they really don’t want me to come. It would be very rude for me to stop by.

I am not in any way insinuating that Western culture is better. I write about this only to share what I am learning and hopefully to better understand my new friends. To people in the Middle East we seem cold and unfriendly. It is strange to them that we do not smile at strangers or invite them to our homes for a meal. They are extremely loyal to extended family and to be alone is completely foreign to them. Of course you would want to live close to as many members of your family for as long as you can! In the West we tend to only be very close to our nuclear families and only see extended family on holidays.

I have much to learn…
(Most of what I have shared can be found in the aforementioned book by Hoskins.) 

 

 

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