Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Secured by Christ

My goal during this week leading up to Easter is to post a gospel-centered, cross-focused post everyday. This one comes from my daily e-mail feed from the Of First Importance blog(www.firstimportance.org).

All Good Things Secured by Christ on the Cross

“Everything that we know and appreciate and praise God for in all Christian experience both in this life and in the life to come springs from this bloody cross.

Do we have the gift of the Spirit? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Do we enjoy the fellowship of saints? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Does he give us comfort in life and death? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Does he watch over us faithfully, providentially, graciously, and covenantally? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Do we have hope of a heaven to come? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Do we anticipate resurrection bodies on the last day? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Is there a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness? Secured by Christ on the cross.

Do we now enjoy new identities, so that we are no longer to see ourselves as nothing but failures, moral pariahs, disappointments to our parents—but deeply loved, blood-bought, human beings, redeemed by Christ, declared just by God himself, owing to the fact that God himself presented his Son Jesus as the propitiation for our sins? All this is secured by Christ on the cross and granted to those who have faith in him.”

—D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 70-71

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I shared this once before, and it's worth repeating. This is a praise from Day 4 of 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers (p 48-49). This time I've added the Scriptures and references at the end.

I love you, Father, because You first loved me and sent Your Son to atone for my sins. And I stand amazed that Jesus, who by nature had always been God, did not cling to His rights as Your equal...that He laid aside all His privileges, to be born as a human being...that He totally humbled Himself, submitting to the death of a common criminal, enduring infinite humiliation and pain...that on the cross You laid on Him the compressed weight of all my sin and guilt and shame, of all my griefs and sorrows, and He became sin for me, dying the death I deserved.

And how much I praise You that it was impossible for death to hold Him in its power.....that You raised Him from the dead to be my Savior, to make me righteous in Your sight...that You highly exalted Him, giving Him a position infinitely superior to any conceivable command, authority, power, or control, both natural and supernatural. Thank You that He is the Great High Priest...That He is able to save me completely, for He lives forever and prays for me, and for all of us who have come to You through Him. I glorify you, My Father, with gratefulness and joy.

And I bow at the feet of Him who was dead, and now is alive forever and ever. I exalt Him, I yield myself to Him, for He is worthy of the total response of my entire being: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessings."


And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
Acts 2:24


In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10

... who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.
Philippians 2:6-9

He was despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter; and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and for His generation who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death although He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He had put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for guilt, He shall see his offspring; He shall prolong His day; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied by His knowledge shall the righteous one, My servant make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:3-12

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Jesus, Fair

At church, during the month of March, we've been singing the hymn My Jesus, Fair (by Chris Anderson and Greg Habegger). I think the gospel message in this song is incredible and worthy of being shared. I would encourage you to reflect on the words this week.

My Jesus fair was pierced by thorns
By thorns from the fall
Thus He who gave the curse was torn
To end the curse for all

My Jesus meek was scorned by men
By men in blasphemy
"Father forgive their senseless sin!"
He prayed for them, for me

My Jesus kind was torn by nails
By nails of cruel men
And to His cross as grace prevailed
God pinned my wretched sin

My Jesus pure was crushed by God
In judgment just
The Father grieved yet turned his rod
On Christ made sin for us

My Jesus strong shall come to reign
To reign in majesty
The Lamb arose and death is slain
Lord, come in victory

Chorus

O love divine, O matchless grace
That God should die for men!
With joyful grief I lift my praise
Abhorring all my sin
Adoring only Him


Note: I'm struck every time I sing the line, "abhorring all my sin, adoring only Him." That is as it should be. May it be so in me.

This Week

This week I will be breaking from my usual blog post schedule. With Good Friday and Easter included in this week, I will be focusing on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in my personal time and study. I will aim to make that my focus on my blog as well.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Evangelism Video 03/27/10

Today I'd like to share with you a video of Ray Comfort sharing the gospel with a man named Brannon. First, Ray used the the 10 commandments to show Brannon sin in his life, then he shared the gospel. Brannon appears to be a very thoughtful man, considering the information presented the entire way through the conversation. It's an interesting encounter and certainly worth watching.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Frightening Friday 03/26/10

This week I spent my time making up packets to give out at the mall tonight and while running errands during the next week. I wanted to be sure that people heard the gospel message (the reason we celebrate Easter) during this season. Many people in America have no clue that Easter is about Jesus' death and resurrection. They don't know the "good news" of the gospel.

Each clear plastic bag included: A gospel tract, a bookmark (I made bookmarks that said: "The Easter season is the perfect time to read the Gospel of John in the Bible, fourth book in the New Testament"--weirdly practical I know, but decorative as well), a card pointing them to my blog (for follow up or other resources), and two pieces of candy (to eat).

This idea came to me a little late in the week, so I had only 29 packs prepared for tonight. I handed them out at the mall in about 30 minutes. I said, "Happy Easter" as I handed out the packs. Only one person turned me down (and very politely so), the rest were very receptive and thanked me.

I pray that the gospel message is read, understood, and responded to in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Note: If you are reading this blog this evening because you received one of these "Easter packs", please check out My Favorite Links at the side of this page for other resources or check out other posts on this blog. If you live in the area and do not have a church to attend this Easter, you are welcome to join us at Bible Baptist Church in Otsego (the link for this church can also be found under My Favorite Links on the right-hand side of this website).

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Philippians 2:1-11

With Resurrection Sunday (Easter season) approaching, I've been reflecting on Bible passages that contain the gospel message. This passage in Philippians is one of my favorites. I also look to this passage as an example of how to apply the gospel to my life. When I am struggling with humility, I look to Christ's ultimate example of humility ("even death on a cross").

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11 ESV

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Resource Wednesday 03/24/10

Today I would like to share with you the sermon our pastor preached last Sunday in the morning worship service. He has been preaching through the book of Ephesians.

This resource Wednesday, I would recommend that you:

1. Read Ephesians chapter 2.
2. Listen to the sermon from Bible Baptist, Sunday March 21. Click here to listen.
3. Reflect on and answer the questions that were provided in our bulletin that day.

-----------------------

Questions to Help You "Remember". What's Your Story?

  • What specific sins characterized you prior to your conversion?

  • Do you remember when the gospel began to draw you consciously to the Father?

  • At what point did you become aware, convicted, and repentant of your sins?

  • As best you can recall, when did you experience salvation by grace through faith?

  • As you look over your shoulder and remember who you were before Christ and who you are in Christ, are there evidences of God's workmanship in your life that are not simply moral tweaks but proofs of God's good works in your life?

  • What verses have you discovered outside of Ephesians 2:8-9 that you cherish because they speak about the amazing grace of God that saved a wretch like you and me (can you list three)?

  • Is there a place where you have manifested a "Christ and...." approach rather than Christ alone? If yes, what are those areas? Then run to the cross with them. If no, have you been thorough and honest in examining yourself?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Presumption

I recently read the book Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley. I have mentioned several times that I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it. Several sections in this book are worth quoting. Today I'd like to share with you one of those sections that stood out to me. It pertains to presuming that your child understands the gospel because they grew up in a "Christian" home. I was particularly struck by the comment about legalism at the end of the second paragraph quoted here.

"Finally they [parents] never presume that their children understand the gospel. We noted in chapter 1 that parents do this at their peril. A young person started attending our church. He was from a Christian home. He had attended an evangelical church every Sunday for twenty years. Yet in a membership interview, when we asked him to articulate the gospel, he said, "It is the Ten commandments."

When I explained this to his parents, they were astounded. They had presumed that he understood the gospel. But the default condition of our flesh is "earn it." We enter the world in love with legalism. We are convinced that we can merit God's favor. We love moralism but we resist the gospel. Parents who understand this never stop preaching the gospel to themselves and their children.-----Gospel-Powered Parenting, Chapter 10, page 184

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cookie Baking Night 03/22/10

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night and it was just Aunt Katrina and Emily (Meghan had a "ton" of homework to do and Carissa was sick this evening so Ethan and Carissa weren't able to join us).
In honor of the first day of spring (last Saturday), we made spring bird nests. Here's the recipe:
Melt in microwave:
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
Stir until smooth
Stir in:
12 ounce bag of chow mein noodles
Stir until completely coated with chocolate mixture
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto wax paper spread on a cookie sheet. Decorate with colored candy eggs (we used malted milk ball eggs).
Regrigerate until set.
Serve.
Enjoy!

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today I'd like to share with you another video from the Living Waters University series. This is Ray Comfort witnessing to a man named Mario who believes God is in everything. I've run into this point of view several times while sharing the gospel with others (or in general conversations with family members or coworkers). It's a pretty popular theory in the secular world today, so it's worth checking out.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Frightening Friday 03/19/10

Spring has not quite arrived in Minnesota. I was hoping to get out to the skate park this evening but, alas, it is still a bit chilly. People aren't out and about just yet.

Instead, I made a quick trip to the mall and handed out some gospel tracts as well as handing out gospel tracts on my errand runs on the way home from the mall. I challenge myself to hand out gospel tracts whenever I'm out in the community. I find the "curved illusion tracts" and the "million dollar bill" tract make this a little easier (you can find them at www.livingwaters.com). They also provide a conversation opening. After I've had a conversation I leave the "Why Christianity?" tract or the tract that I've written myself "If I Knew Then What I Know Now" as a followup.

If you're not using gospel tracts now, I encourage you to purchase some or write your own and start by handing them out while out in the community running errands.

Here's a couple ways I do this:

I use the curved illusion tracts (which one is bigger, the red or the blue?) at the end of the transaction with a cashier before I leave the store. It usually opens an opportunity to hand one to the person in line behind me as well. I always tell them "it's a gospel tract" It is rarely turned down.

When I pass someone sitting on a bench in the mall staring off into space (happens a lot if they don't have a cell phone or mp3 player with them) I stop and say, "Here's something to read while you're sitting there."(this works especially well with the men sitting outside the shops waiting for their wives). Again, when I do this, I find the tract is (occasionally but) rarely turned down. They usually take it and thank me.

Just a couple easy ways to get the gospel into the hands of a stranger. Any other suggestions? Ideas you've pursued? I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday Night Bible Study 03/18/10

Last week I posted a quiz that our pastor gave us at the end of his Thursday night sermon series on the basic Christian doctrines. This week, as promised, the quiz with the answers.

Answer the questions below to test your biblical/theological literacy:

The Bible
■Inerrancy means that the Bible tells the truth.
■List two references that teach the Bible is inspired: 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 12:1

The Trinity
■Provide one verse that teaches “oneness-in-threeness.” Matthew 28:19 "the name" (oneness); "Father, Son, Holy Spirit (threeness)

The Person of Christ
■How many natures did Christ have? two
■How much of each did He have? 100% (fully God, fully man)
■Provide at least one text on the deity of Christ. Luke 24:39 (John 1:14, Acts 2:31)
■Provide at least one text on the humanity of Christ. Matthew 1:23 (Mark 2:7, Luke 4:12)
■Provide a verse that summarizes both. Romans 9:5 "To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.."

The Work of Christ
■What work did Christ perform in the past? He suffered and died (Mark 8:31)
■What work does Christ perform in the present? He is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14)
■What work will Christ perform in the future? He will reign as King (Revelation 19:11-16)

Angels
■How many angels are there? innumerable (Hebrews 12:22)
■T or F: The Devil is God’s evil peer. False. He is not God's peer; God has no equal.

Mankind
■What does every person have that distinguishes man from animals? (see Genesis 1:26-27) The image of God.
■How many parts comprise man? Support with a passage or two. Two. Material and immaterial (2 Corinthians 4:16)
■What is man’s purpose? Support with a Bible passage. To glorify God. (1 Corinthians 8:6)

Sin
■Define sin. Sin is any thought, word, or deed contrary to the commandments and character of God.
■What does Psalm 51:5 teach us about original sin? It is passed down to every person.
■How has sin affected every person? We are totally depraved. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Salvation
■Define the gospel and list at least one passage that supports your definition. The gospel is the good news that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 5: 3-4, 1 Thessalonians 4:14)
■Can a true believer fully or finally fall away? Provide Scripture. No. A believer will persevere and be preserved to the end (John 10: 28-29, Romans 8:30)
■What is a synonym for faith? Trust

The Church
■What is the mission of the church to the lost? Evangelism What is the mission of the church to the saved? Equip

Future Events
■What are the two final destinies? Heaven and Hell
■What is the duration of each destiny? Provide Scripture. Eternal (Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:46)

We have started a new series on Thursday nights at our church titled "Your Mind Matters" Click Here to listen to the first message in that series.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Resource Wednesday 03/17/10

I thought this resource Wednesday it would be appropriate to talk about something I do with my older nieces and nephews called "Feed the Starving Teenagers". I pick a book. I read it. They read it. If they make arrangements with me to get together and talk about the book, they receive a monetary gift (an agreed upon amount). So far, I've read two books with my niece, Meghan (14) and two books with my nephew, Joe (17). They are currently both working on the book of Daniel (in the Bible).

Joe finished Daniel and came over this evening to discuss it. Joe has grown up in the Catholic faith. He is currently learning the value of Scripture. He's searching it out for himself. He had an amazing retention of the book of Daniel. He read it several times to try to grasp it. It was a great discussion, which led to many other discussions of biblical topics (Joe lives to debate). I encouraged Joe to continue to search the Scriptures for himself and to be sure that he is trusting in Christ alone for his salvation.

I sent him home with another book, 10 Books That Screwed up the World and 5 Others That Didn't Help (good book, questionable title) by Benjamin Wiker. This book takes a look at 15 other books from the 1500's through the 1900's that have greatly influenced secular thinking.

I would encourage you to consider this book-reading practice (affectionately called "Feed the Starving Teenagers") with the teenagers in your life or some other similar activity that will allow you to engage in their lives.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day

On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would share a video with you from Paul Latour of The Word Street Journal blog (www.thewordstreetjournal.blogspot.com). Paul and his wife, Kim, are street evangelists. They used the St. Patrick's Day parade in their town as an opportunity to share the gospel. Way to go, Paul and Kim!
This video was encouraging to me, I hope it is encouraging to you as well (and you might just learn a little something about St. Patrick along the way).

Monday, March 15, 2010

John 6:16-21

When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." They were glad to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
John 6: 16-21

I have read this account in John, of Jesus walking on water, many times in my life. Though (I suspect because of my unregenerate heart for many of those years), until recently I had not noticed the last part of that passage that explained that once Jesus was in the boat, the boat arrived at its destination immediately. Amazing! Two miracles in one short passage.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Evangelism Video 03/13/10

Today I'd like to share with you a video that's a little different from those that I usually choose. This is Ray Comfort using a clip from the ER television show (pretty fascinating clip) to explain the gospel. I think it's worth watching.
Word of caution: If you plan to show this to the kids, I would view it alone first and then make that decision.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Frightening Friday 03/12/10

We've had a lot of rain here the past few days (about 4 days straight), which means the snow is nearly gone (just a few remnants of the very large snowbanks remain). Soon people will be out of their houses and congregating in parks and the like (probably a few weeks to go on that). Until then, I find myself at the local mall on Friday nights seeking to share the gospel with those I meet.

Tonight I walked around the mall passing out gospel tracts. Several times, I passed a well-dressed woman sitting on a bench. She appeared to be waiting there for a particular reason, perhaps waiting for someone. One time, when I passed her, I noticed she was reading the receipt from her items purchased that evening. The next time I passed her I said, "Would you like something to read while you wait?". She said, "Yes." So, I gave her one of the gospel tracts I wrote myself. It's 13 pages long (small pages, large print), and it reads like a story, so I thought it would be appropriate for the situation. I decided to make another loop around the mall and talk to her on my way back. I saw her intensely reading the gospel tract. When I got back to that spot, she was gone. I could tell she was reading the tract, so I pray she will respond to the gospel message in repentance and faith if she has not already done so.

My courage was low this evening, just enough to pass out gospel tracts, so it appeared. I handed out about 20 tracts before deciding to make my exit for the evening. I was sitting on a bench when a lady and her two children came by with a cart from a store at the other end of the mall. She was leaving. I offered to return the cart to the store for her.

On my way back from returning the cart (toward my exit door), I met Joe. I would guess Joe was in his 70's. He was sitting on a bench. Parked next to him were his walker and his oxygen tank. I handed him a million dollar bill tract and said it had the million dollar question on back (What happens to a person when they die?). Joe proceeded to tell me jokes and stories. I sat next to him on the bench and chatted. I asked him what he thought happens to a person when they die. He said, "Oh a lot of people have opinions on that" and continued telling me stories of his glory days in the navy (he rode a camel--said they growl like a lion--it was a good story). I kept trying to talk to Joe about the gospel but he wasn't having it. In Joe's stories I learned that his wife died two years ago, and they had been married 54 years. His stories eventually led to his health concerns and the many ailments he deals with on a daily basis. I tried to bring it back to the gospel one more time by saying, "You're dependent upon an oxygen tank to breathe, are you're telling me you don't think about what happens to a person when they die? Do you think there is a heaven and a hell?" He said no one really knows for sure and then told me a few more stories. During the course of our conversation, I had given Joe another tract (again the one I had written myself--bigger writing--I could see that might be necessary). Joe had very little interest in serious conversation, but he was clearly lonely, so I stayed and talked with him for awhile. As I wrapped up our time together and got ready to depart from Joe's company, I said these words, "Joe, I encourage you to read that gospel tract. I believe there is a heaven and hell, and when you die you will stand before God in judgment. This is worth your time to figure out." He said, "Yeah, yeah." and chuckled. We shook hands. I thanked him for the chat and then made my way to the exit door.

Please pray for Joe and the others who received the gospel in their hands this evening. My prayer is that they will respond to the gospel message in repentance for their sins and faith in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday Night Bible Study 3/11/10

A couple weeks ago, during the Thursday night prayer and Bible study meeting at our church, we finished up a series called: Basic Christian Doctrines. It was a many-lesson series spanning a few months' time. To conclude the series our pastor gave a quiz to test us. It covered the topics which he spent many weeks covering. This week I'm going to share the quiz with you. Test yourself. See how you do.

Next Thursday, I'll share the answers with you along with a link to the first sermon in our latest Thursday night Bible study series entitled, "Your Mind Matters".

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Answer the questions below to test your biblical/theological literacy:

The Bible
■Inerrancy means that the Bible tells the _______________.
■List two references that teach the Bible is inspired:

The Trinity
■Provide one verse that teaches “oneness-in-threeness.”

The Person of Christ
■How many natures did Christ have?
■How much of each did He have?
■Provide at least one text on the deity of Christ.
■Provide at least one text on the humanity of Christ.
■Provide a verse that summarizes both.

The Work of Christ
■What work did Christ perform in the past?
■What work does Christ perform in the present?
■What work will Christ perform in the future?

Angels
■How many angels are there?
■T or F: The Devil is God’s evil peer.

Mankind
■What does every person have that distinguishes man from animals? (see Genesis 1:26-27)
■How many parts comprise man? Support with a passage or two.
■What is man’s purpose? Support with a Bible passage.

Sin
■Define sin.
■What does Psalm 51:5 teach us about original sin?
■How has sin affected every person?

Salvation
■Define the gospel and list at least one passage that supports your definition.
■Can a true believer fully or finally fall away? Provide Scripture.
■What is a synonym for faith?

The Church
■What is the mission of the church to the lost? What is the mission of the church to the saved?

Future Events
■What are the two final destinies?
■What is the duration of each destiny? Provide Scripture.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Resource Wednesday 03/10/10

Last month I told you about my friend Katie's blog (you can find the link under Ladies Blogs at the side of my blog page). Well, one of Katie's brothers, Kyle, started his own blog. It is called Ponderings From the Son of Encouragement (http://www.kylescorner.wordpress.com/). His blog is "dedicated to edifying others" (his words), and I think he's doing a great job. His posts are short, thoughtful, and saturated with Scripture. I would encourage you to have the young men in your life check it out.

The other reason I bring attention to the blogs of Katie and Kyle is to highlight their parents. I have talked with their mom about the blogs, and I know that she is allowing them to do this only if it is used to sharpen and edify others. I admire her (and her husband's) focus and desire to have God glorified in the life of their family. This is also a tangible example of how to glorify God in all that we do while living in a very modern world, so I wanted to share it with you this Resource Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This was forwarded to me by a member of the Voice of the Martyrs, Voice Volunteer Network here in Minnesota. It contains the requests of the persecuted church around the world. Lessons can be learned just from reading the prayer requests, so I decided to share it on the blog today.

"Pray for us"

No matter where The Voice of the Martyrs ministers, the first request of persecuted Christians is always the same: "Pray for us"

Prayer is the most necessary action, the greatest gift, the hardest spiritual labor, as well the simplest cry of a loving heart. The time that you spend in prayer has an eternal ¬impact on the lives of men and women throughout our world. Through prayer our world is changed, closed doors are opened, resistant people are made receptive, leaders are put down and raised up, and the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is extended.

Hebrews 13:3 says, ¬“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as ¬being yourselves also in the body.”

The Word of God remains our best guide for knowing how to pray for our persecuted sisters and brothers worldwide.

1. That God would give them the right words and that they would fearlessly make Christ known.


Here Paul tells how to pray for him when he was suffering for Christ in jail -- notice his prayer was not for release.
Ephesians 6:19-20 "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
Colossians 4:2-4 "Devote yourselves to prayer... praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak."

2. That they will see God's grace as sufficient and God's power perfected in their weakness.

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Many of the pastors, evangelists and workers who are beaten and imprisoned for their bold witness leave behind sons, daughters and spouses to fend for themselves. Pray for wives of those imprisoned. With the absence of the breadwinner, the responsibility for caring and feeding of the family falls on the wife. Sometimes the wife is also forced to provide for her husband in prison (often the case in Vietnam). If she is also arrested, then together they have to bear the anguish of leaving often quite young children to fend for themselves. Pray for them.

3. That they would love Christ's appearing all the more.

2 Timothy 4:5-8 "I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."
Hebrews 11:35 "...others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection".

4. That they will rejoice in sharing the sufferings of Jesus so that they will rejoice even more when Christ is revealed.

Hebrews 10:34 "...accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one."
Matthew 5:12 "Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
I Peter 4:13 "but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation."

5. That they will endure.

Hebrews 10:36 "For you have need of endurance".
Hebrews 5:8 "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." Pray for Christian work among refugees. Pray that as the refugees are led to Christ, they will be willing to return to their countries to take the Gospel back with them.

6. That they will love Christ far more than life itself.

Revelation 12:10-11 "they overcame (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death."
Philippians 1:21 "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Acts 20:24 "I (Paul) do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course."

7. That they will love their enemies.

Luke 6:27-31 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Pray for those who govern, that they will repent and turn to Christ Jesus. Whole nations can be changed when a leader is saved. Pray that the strongholds will be overthrown in each country and that the light of God’s glory will break through.

8. That they not enter into temptation -- an easy possibility under the stress of persecution (Luke 22:39-45 - Jesus in the garden)

9. That they will rejoice that they are considered worthy to suffer for HIS name.

Acts 5:41 "So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."

10. That they will remember they were made for such persecution.

Acts 14:22 "Through many tribulations we must enter
the kingdom of God."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cookie Baking Night 3/08/10

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night with the nieces and nephews. In attendance this evening: Ethan, Carissa, Emily, and Meghan.

We made peanut butter cookies. Cross-crossing with a fork on top of the cookie is harder than it looks, so we discovered.


Meghan made chocolate bon bons from a kit that grandma Clara had given me around Christmas time. Meghan followed the directions on the box and completed the project by herself (with a little advice from Aunt Katrina here and there). She did a great job.


Tonight we picked up where we had left off with our Josh McDowell curriculum, "Is the Bible Personally From God?" We are on lesson three entitled God protected His message. We talked about the job of a scribe and then practiced the art of copying verses using a worksheet from the lesson.


We also started a project that will help us memorize the books of the Bible. We'll be working on that one over the next couple months.

As usual, a good time was had by all!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Evangelism Video 03/06/10

Today I'm going to share a video with you of Tony Miano sharing the gospel with a young man named Juan. I've shared this one before, but it's definitely a repeater. Juan appears to be a very thoughtful young man, and Tony shares the gospel with conviction and compassion. It's worth watching.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Frightening Friday 03/05/10

With my favorite bench MIA, tonight I decided to hit the "streets" (of the mall). I spent a lot of time in prayer this week for the people I would be talking with on Friday night (and for courage). I also spent time reading about the gospel and listening to sermons about it.

Approaching total strangers to engage in conversation with them (any kind of conversation) is the hardest part for me, so I gave some thought to that as well. There is a popular theory circulating in the culture right now involving the end of the world and the Mayan calendar. The calendar of the Mayan civilization (a technically sophisticated civilization in many ways) ends on December 21, 2012. There is an idea circulating (by Christians, sadly, and non-Christians alike) that the world will end on that day. There have been many such predictions about the end of the world over the years. When I was a teenager, there was an idea circulating in the popular culture that the world would end in 1988. That was the year I graduated from high school. I was a professing Christian at the time, but this prediction terrified me (hmmm, should have been my first clue that something was wrong--but that's another story). With that in mind, I decided to use the following questions when I approached people at the mall this Friday night, "Have you heard about the theory involving the Mayan calendar? What do you think about it?"

That's exactly what I did, and God allowed me to have three different conversations with people. Everyone I approached had heard about the Mayan calendar. Some were concerned, some were not.

The first conversation did not end well. It was with a young man sitting on a bench (I didn't get his name). He said he had heard about the theory of the world ending in 2012. We chatted amicably for a few minutes, but when the conversation turned to Spiritual matters, he started to get agitated. He perceived me to be pushing my ideas "down his throat". He was pretty angry when he left. The gospel was not presented in that conversation.

Side note: When I left the conversation with the first young man, I was a bit shaken by it. But, to my surprise, I did not die. Having realized one of my worst evangelizing fears (encountering the very angry person) and living through it, I thanked God for it, prayed for courage, and moved on in search of another conversation.

The second conversation was with a young man named Jeff. He said he had heard about the Mayan calendar theory but didn't put much stock in it. When I asked Jeff if he had a Christian background he said, "Oh, yes, I'm a Christian." When I asked him if he could tell me about the gospel he didn't know what I meant by that. I clarified my question, but he still struggled explaining it. As I left Jeff, I gave him a gospel tract with a thorough gospel presentation in it. He was about to catch a bus and said he would read it.

The third conversation was with a group of young girls sitting on a bench in the middle of the mall, Jessie, Jade, and Ashley. I asked them if they had heard about the Mayan calendar theory and they said they had, but they didn't think too much of it. I asked them if they had friends who believed it, and they said they did. Then I asked them, "Does it scare you a little bit?" And they all said, "Yes." Two of the girls professed to be Christians and one did not. They (Jessie and Ashley) seemed to have an understanding of the message of the gospel but could not clearly articulate it. When I asked them if one needed to be a good person to go to heaven they said, "No, but it's hard to explain it." Jade said she didn't know what she thought about God or heaven or hell. I asked her if I could share the gospel with her, and she gave me permission to do so. All three girls listened as I used the 10 commandments to show them their sin, talked about the holy nature of God and that because He is good and just He must punish sin (they agreed). I talked about how Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life, died, and rose again to take the punishment for our sins. Then I explained repentance. As I was doing that, Jade's phone rang (I continued talking to the other girls). She hung up the phone, and they were off in a flash. As they made their exit, I gave them each a gospel tract with a thorough gospel presentation in it for further study should they wish to do so.

Please pray for the young people who heard the gospel this evening (and the one who didn't), that God would convict their hearts and draw them to Him.


Note of clarification: I am in no way endorsing the Mayan calendar theory of the end of the world. I simply wanted to get a pulse on how the popular culture is processing this information and use it as a springboard into a conversation about the gospel.

Concerning such matters as the end of the world (second coming of Christ) Jesus said:

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Matthew 4:36

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Matthew 4:44

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blogging Tips

I've been blogging for about 10 months now (since May of last year). I don't think that qualifies me as an expert, but I have gained some knowledge since first starting the blog. So, I will attempt to pass on to you a few tips I've learned so far.
  • Pick a theme. If you wish to remain consistent with blogging, I think the best way to do that is by picking a theme for your blog. My theme is consistency. I blog about living the Christian life, day to day. I use daily blogging categories (both general and specific) to accomplish this goal.
  • I often schedule my posts. I write the post while I have an idea in my head and then schedule it to be posted later (this is particularly easy to do with some of my daily categories such as Resource Wednesday and the evangelism videos).
  • I aim to have a post appear on the blog six days a week, but I'm not bound by blogging six days of every week (sometimes Monday's entry is posted on Wednesday).
  • I strive to keep it gospel centered. I make it a point not to trust my own thoughts. I keep them anchored in the truth of God's Word at every opportunity.

Joys of blogging:

  1. I enjoy processing life, good sermons, good books and what I read in the Bible through the written word. It's fun for me to get it out of my head and onto the page.
  2. I enjoy the opportunity to present the gospel.
  3. The feedback from readers sharpens me.
  4. The feedback from friends encourages me.
  5. It holds me accountable to follow through on what I say I will do.
  6. It challenges me to compose my thoughts in an intelligent manner.

Pitfalls of blogging:

  1. It can be an open door for pride. There is a temptation to think of yourself as brilliant while you're blogging. I constantly pray for God (and not myself) to be glorified through this blog.
  2. It can occupy your thoughts entirely too much.
  3. There is a temptation to embellish life's events in order to make them more appealing.

Blogging advice:

  1. Read your Bible and pray everyday (without that you will be tempted to be wise in your own eyes).

That's the short list of the ups and downs of blogging. If you've ever considered writing your own blog (or maybe you already do), I hope these tips are helpful to you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Resource Wednesday 03/03/10

This Resource Wednesday, I would like to highlight for you the Voice of the Martyrs website (http://www.persecution.com/). Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is a ministry that focuses on the persecuted church around the world. If you've spent any time on my blog, you've heard me endorse this ministry many times.


I encourage you to visit the VOM website. Here's a few areas of the website that I appreciate and utilize often:
  • Voice of the Martyrs magazine. You can sign up to receive a free monthly copy of this magazine. Each issue highlights a different country or area around the world where Christians are being persecuted for their faith. The magazine also highlights tangible ways we could help the persecuted church.

  • Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. There is a way to receive a free copy of this book (or have it sent to a friend) via the website. Richard Wurmbrand is the founder of the Voice of the Martyrs ministry. I highly recommend reading this book. I found it impossible to remain unchanged after doing so.

  • Prison Alert is a tool on this website that allows you to write letters of encouragement to persecuted Christians around the world. You can pick phrases and verses that will be translated into the language of the prisoner to whom you are writing. It allows you to compose a letter to the prisoner and then gives you instructions on how to mail it. I've used this tool a few times and found it very user friendly.

  • Kids of Courage is an area of the website that focuses on children of persecuted Christians, persecuted children, or areas in which to involve your own children in the cause of the persecuted church. There is an area on Kids of Courage (Downloads) that allows you to download an entire curriculum on a country (many countries available) in order to educate your children about the culture and Spiritual condition of the country. I've downloaded a couple of these and find them very useful. My niece, Emily, is currently working through the curriculum on China.

In this post, I've highlighted some of the areas on the VOM website, but it's just a few of the resources available. I highly recommend checking it out.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Have Only To Be Silent

Right now we're reading through Exodus in our family Bible reading plan. We've just read through the beginning of Exodus where God calls Moses to appeal before Pharaoh for permission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, where they are enslaved to Pharaoh. Pharaoh continually promises to let them go and then goes back on his promises. God sent 10 different plagues to the land of Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to let His people go, the last being death to all of the first born males in the land of Egypt. Finally, the Israelites were released from Egypt. The first big obstacle they encountered was how to get across the Red Sea with Pharaoh in hot pursuit. And these are the words that came out of their mouths (spoken to Moses):

"Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better to die in the wilderness." Exodus 14:11-12

How quickly they forgot the pain of Egypt. I was struck by Moses' response to the Israelites.

"Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." Exodus 14:13-14

We hold to this illusion of control in our lives, but it is simply that, an illusion. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. True then and true today. Amazing!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Seeking Instruction

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7.

I am currently studying the book of Proverbs for our monthly women's Bible study at church. The theme touched on in the above-listed verse is a theme scattered throughout the book of Proverbs. Fools despise wisdom and instruction, the wise incline their heart to understanding.

As I read through the book of Proverbs, I am reminded of my own conversion to Christianity. After God regenerated me, the first fruit of repentance that I can recall being evident in my life was the desire for correction. I found myself wanting to know what was right and to be corrected if my thinking was wrong. This characteristic was nonexistent in my life before God regenerated me. I hated to be corrected. I would take correction, reluctantly, on the outside, but my heart and mind echoed with thoughts such as, "What do you know? Who are you to tell me? Shut up, you don't know me." (vile but true). As stated in Proverbs 1:7, I was a fool. With thoughts like these running through my head and ruling my life before conversion, I was shocked when I began to seek out correction and desire it. It truly was evidence to me that God had done a work in my heart.

I now understand the verses in the book of Proverbs in a way that was completely foreign before God regenerated me. To Him be the glory!

Cookie Baking Night 09/25/17

Tonight was Cookie Baking Night. In attendance this evening: Allison, Rylar, and Enzo. Tonight we made pumpkin bars.  ...