Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shall We Plead With Sinners?

One of the sad byproducts of this modern age where "tolerance is king" is that Christians have lost the  urgency of the Gospel message. We are so afraid of being criticized, ostracized, or marginalized that we oftentimes unintentionally make our presentation of Christ sound like something that can be taken or left with no consequence. I have read statements from so-called "Christian" mission organizations that went something like this: "We are not here to proselytize. We are just here to show the people love and compassion. If they choose to believe like us, that is fine. If not, that is fine too."

To be sure, there are some tactics being used in an attempt to reach people for Christ that are wrong and inappropriate. But just because there are unethical men who would try to bully or trick a person into making a "profession of faith," that does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and be tepid and timid in our presentation of the Gospel. There are times that a person hears the Gospel explained and readily agrees to believe on Christ. But what about the times that a person hears the Gospel and then sets up camp in the valley of indecision? How should we deal with fence-sitters? Should we leave procrastinators alone? Should we simply give them the message from God and then walk away? Is any amount of pressure justified? If so, how much? In other words, shall we plead with sinners?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Enough To Go Around

© Anatoliy Babiychuk | Dreamstime Stock Photos

In 1980, Cambodia was just emerging from one of the most horrific periods of time that any nation has ever endured. Between 1975 and 1979, the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, under the leadership of the infamous Pol Pot, abused the Cambodian people in a way that is hard to describe and even harder to comprehend. An estimated 2 million people died either of starvation, malnutrition, or disease or were killed outright by the Khmer Rouge. When the North Vietnamese defeated the Khmer Rouge in 1979 (or at least drove them out of the highly populated areas and into their jungle hideouts) they assumed by default the responsibility of picking up the pieces of the Khmer Rouge's razing of the country and its people. I recently read an account of that time in Cambodia's history and the difficulty that was faced in getting emergency aid distributed to the people, and it gave me some things to think about with relation to the Great Commission.

Rats in the Rice

When the Vietnamese rolled into town, their first task was dealing with the starvation, malnutrition and sickness that abounded on every hand at some of the greatest levels ever seen in modern history. Sadly, when foreign aid and relief began to come flooding in, they had a very difficult time getting it properly distributed to those who were in need. Ships waited for weeks to dock and unload, because of the interminably long time (mostly due to inefficiency) that it took to unload each ship. Once rice and other aid was unloaded, the distribution was just as bad, if not worse. Various aid organizations had donated 1,100 trucks for delivering food and relief supplies, but they were misappropriated, kept mostly around Phnom Penh and used for transporting people. Meanwhile, the stockpile of rice and other food items was getting infested with rats as it sat undelivered. Journalist Henry Kamm went on a 500 mile journey on the main roads and saw only 3 of the relief trucks. Every time he stopped in a village, he was told the same story: very little rations had been delivered and no seed at all. Mr. Kamm told of meeting a 25 year-old man who pedaled his bike for two weeks from Kampong Cham province to Phnom Penh in search of rice. With 80 pounds of rice strapped to his bike rack he began to push it back home. His family was waiting, he said. Instead of distributing the relief supplies and food, certain people at the top of the "food chain" were hoarding it. High ranking Cambodian officials were eating very well while the rest of the people were still starving. Many who had enough for their own family seemed unconcerned with the plight of those who had nothing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Such As I Have Give I Unto Thee

During the month of January, I am teaching a series in Sunday School on "How To Lead Others To Christ." I'm thankful that on the whole, our church members are unashamed to identify with Christ. They are constantly requesting Gospel tracts to hand out, consistently bringing friends, family, and neighbors to church, and continually taking flak for their faith in Jesus Christ. However, when it comes to Christians being able to personally lead a soul to Christ, we need to grow. We have some who are very competent in that area, but not enough. 

Two Sundays ago, after I preached from Acts 8 about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, a good number of our people raised their hand in the invitation to express the following decision: "I have never personally led someone to Christ, but with God's help, I want to establish a goal this year to both learn how to lead a soul to Christ and actually lead someone to Christ." I would like to ask my blog readers who pray for our ministry to make this issue a matter of prayer in 2013. 

Interestingly, just a few days after preaching this message, I was reading a devotional by Charles Spurgeon and I came across this:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Year In Review - 2012

I am trying something new. While I was thinking about writing a "year-in-review," I realized that I had already written a summary of my year...via twitter. And because twitter was written as the year happened instead of after it was over, I like the freshness of it. So I have taken selected twitter updates and repurposed them as a summary of what 2012 was like for our family and ministry. 

Those of you who use twitter and follow me may not want to spend time on this post, as it is all information you have probably already seen. On the other hand, for those who do not read our twitter updates, you may be interested in this "diary-style" perspective of our ministry. 

I am aware that there are many who do not use twitter, so let me give a couple of words of clarification. First, the reason every post is so short is because twitter limits the characters in a post to just 140. Second, when you come across symbols like @ and #, just ignore them. They are used by twitter users to connect with other twitter users. 

God gave us a wonderful year, and we hope our friends and family will enjoy hearing about some of the things they might have missed.