Wear Green and Pray!

Would have had this up sooner, but computers confuse me 🙂
Buried beneath the St. Patrick’s Day symbols of shamrocks and leprechauns lies the story of a man determined to share the message of salvation with the people who made him a slave….

Patrick grew up the son of a church Bishop in Britain during the early 5th century. He was kidnapped and enslaved and spent 6 years of his early life in Ireland. He did miraculously escape back to His home country only to have God call him back to Ireland in a dream. At this time, Christ was not known in Ireland. Like so many remote villages that God is using Gospel For Asia supported missionaries to reach now. Patrick went willingly this second time to share the message of the gospel to those who were his enemies. (It is said that he used 3 leaf clovers to illustrate the trinity, but I’m not sure if it’s true).

Against persecution and the intense paganism that plagued Ireland, Patrick served God by reaching people with the message of the gospel. He eventually died for his faith. By his death in 461, it was estimated that Patrick had founded 300 churches, hundreds of thousands had heard of true freedom from sin through Christ’s gift of salvation, and over one hundred thousand had come to know Christ as their savior. His followers re-evangelized Europe as God called missionaries from the once Godless island. Patrick is one of the few figures in recorded history directly responsible for the completely non-violent religious conversion of an entire nation.

I love this story of true love for your enemies and a passion to reach the lost! Wear green and pray for all of those risking their lives for the cause of Christ.

Please be in prayer for all of the people God is calling to reach those who have never heard the gospel before. Pray for the families of those who have been imprisoned or martyred for their faith. Pray that God would call more to the field! Pray that those who are called would continue to lives worthy of their calling.

The Sleeping Giant

I look around me today and I just can’t believe it. It seems the older I get and the more I understand about the world around the more I just can’t believe the things that human beings do to themselves and one another. Wicked, how deeply wicked are we that live in this current age where already the wheels are turning, and have been turning, to call good evil and evil good. We are so backward in all that we are and do and we are asleep, hypnotized, if you will, by the world around. Do we not care; do we not see where we are going? Could we even begin to turn the ship around even if we wanted too? All the more it seems that I see the signs for the end. I have no way of knowing when the Lord will return. A hundred years, ten years, a month, a week, a day, or a minute. I know that He is coming and I pray that He will come soon.

When will my soul awaken to God’s calling? When will Americans and the church at large awake out of their sleep? I want to wake up, but I so love my sleep, I want to dream and have my own life, but that is not God’s calling. I am to live for Him and His kingdom! When will you awake oh my soul within me? When will you give up your rights and serve God with a passion and zeal that would mirror that of the early church? When??? Why do you sleep? Awake and see the lost world around you and see the lost and hurting.

Oh that God would be my all, can I not lay down my rights for the One who created me.

 

 

Joseph The Missionary Driver!

Unsure and unsatisfied with where they are at, Christians I’ve talked to over the past two years have often made me think about how does God use our lives and how we can act on His calling. What are your expectations for how God is to work in your life? Are you like me in that my time and schedule gets filled with work and things so rapidly I feel at a loss? Comparing myself to others, am I just doing okay or poorly?

My heart has burned for different men, women, and couples I’ve talked to that have a burden for the lost but at that time were not pursuing to answer that burden. I wish I had not responded in my natural gentleness but shouted, “Forget all these other things! You just follow Jesus!” In my past I wish I had been so similarly challenged and listened more often. It took me a long time to give up my plans.

God works in similar ways so that we would see His kingdom and His righteousness first, but the timing and how it happens is another issue all together. We’re all at different places in our walks and Christ working on us. We need to act boldly on faith and challenge each other. I’m talking to myself too, because I, like others, was stubborn and it has taken some sludge hammers and lots of humbling experiences for God to get me in a place where I’m willing to be molded by Him. Jesus said you follow me (Read John 21:21-23). We cannot compare or rank our walks with anyone. He just said you follow me, don’t worry about the others. Don’t worry about all these other things, He knows.

I’ve had my share of taking my plans into my own hands with relationships, evangelism, and my calling; all of which tended to not go so well.

My last year of college I was praying for lots of people to get saved, and maybe it could have happened, but there were several problems with my plans. Three things that tend to be the problems for most American Christians: lack of self-sacrifice and discipline, and myself was a key part of the plan of people getting saved. In other words it was a good spiritual goal but at the heart it was about myself.

I did evangelism but it lacked God’s real empowering and spirit because I lacked taking time to pray and read the scripture. I did it alone too, a lone ranger is no good. I didn’t sacrifice what I really needed to accomplish what was burdened on me so that I could sharpen myself spiritually and encourage others to join me.

Secondly it was to accomplish something big, a wonderful thing to catch the attentions of many. Now who wasn’t looking for the crowds? Jesus wasn’t looking for the crowds and even said some scary things that frightened followers away when the crowds got big. The American Christian culture has adopted its mindset of success from the world in many ways–it has to be big, lots of people, and bring in lots of media/interest/money, whatever. Jesus preached to everyone but He didn’t make any stay if they didn’t want to. Jesus’ ministry was successful because he wasn’t seeking to please people but only obey and please God the father.

A strategy in the US is to throw warm bodies, plans, and money at a problem and hope that it will work. Discipline, brokenness before God, righteous living, and practical training in spiritual ministers are typically lacking. The question has to be asked where is the fruit to all the labor, time, and money spent? People are definitely still called to teach, pastor, missions, or a myriad of ministries in America and abroad, but one must ask are they qualified, or will they instead just be a misleading burden, and where is the fruit after the years of work (Side note: of course even if they aren’t qualified God can still use them)? The opposite is totally true as well, becoming so educated as becoming self-reliant and hardened to the Spirit’s leading and instead choosing to follow our own human wisdom. Are the way things being done actually being affective? Is it Spirit led? Are the heathen masses being saved? Or is it just people and money being tossed around in the middle of a program? Am I continually praying and asking for His direction?

On the day the apostles received the Spirit, Peter preached and thousands gave themselves to Jesus. It was by the work of the Spirit, but make note the Spirit was drawing on what had already been taught to them by Jesus. Jesus had been teaching him and the other disciples over a period of 40 days about His resurrection, showing them many proofs of it, and concerning the kingdom of God, which I’m sure was pretty amazing stuff (Act 1:1-3; Luke 24:45)! So after several years with Jesus and having some in-depth teaching time right before the Spirit filled them they were ready to explode and the Spirit could bring forth all that Jesus had taught them.

Sometimes the better question to ask than what is God’s will for me is what is God doing and how can I be part of it? It isn’t so much about ourselves, despite how much me, myself, and I tell myself that it is all about me, which reminds me of the need for brokenness. In the overall picture of God working through us as individuals, it is that we are all called to something different to take part in the body of Christ. Being individuals in one body working toward bringing about the kingdom of God on earth.

While in Asia I met missionary drivers. That sounds crazy, you might think. Who ever reads in a magazine about missionary drivers? Exactly, you don’t. But these are brothers that went through missions and Bible training and did their field training just like the others but would drive people about to and from things and serve. At one of the Bible Colleges I visited there was one particular brother in his mid-twenties, named Joseph, who was the kindest young man. But he was trained and had served in the field too. But looking at his job you wouldn’t say that he was a front line missionary–cleaning, preparing rooms, and serving food. But what a servant’s heart he had. He served us and also many at the Bible College, and was also part of discipling and training the students. These guys served with gratitude just to play the part they had in reaching the lost. Thousands a day are coming to Christ just through the individuals serving where they are. Insignificant as the role may seem, God is doing amazing things through our humble brothers and sisters.

So I have no idea what God has called you too but I would encourage you to analyze your life and ask God how to take up your cross and live with a sense of sacrifice right along with our brothers and sisters in Christ so that the lost may be reached.

I had wanted to be a speaker and an evangelist on the streets. I wanted to be on the frontline. But the most important question to ask is why am I doing what I am? Is it just the common practical thing to do, was it how I was trained to, told I needed to by family, friends, and coworkers, or because that is the way it has been done before? Or is it something that God has directed you to and empowered you in the Spirit to accomplish?

The Cry Of The Blood

The Cry Of The Blood
Amy Carmichael

The tom-toms thumped straight on all night, and the darkness shuddered round me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this:

That I stood on a grassy patch, and at my feet a ravine broke straight down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.

Then I saw forms of people moving toward the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very edge. She lifted her foot for the next step… Then, to my horror, I saw that she was blind. Before I could say anything she was over, and the children with her. Their cries pierced the air as they fell into the inky blackness of the ravine!

Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all walked straight toward the edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.

Then I wondered, with a wonder that was sheer agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I couldn’t even yell; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come out.

Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals.

But the intervals were too large; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the ravine yawned like the mouth of hell.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned towards the ravine. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it was a rather crude noise. And if one of their group started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven’t finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries for miles and miles along the edge.

Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls. Once a child grabbed at a tuft of grass that grew at the very edge of the ravine; it clung convulsively, and it called – but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which her friends reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; “The gap would be well taken care of!”, they said. And then they sang a hymn.

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew that it was “The Cry of the Blood”.

Then a voice thundered. It was the voice of the Lord, and He said, “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and weird, wild shrieks of the devil-possessed just outside the gate.

What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it? God forgive us!

God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!

1 John 3:17 Paraphrased by Amy Carmichael

“But whoso hath the gospel of Jesus Christ, and seeth the heathen lost and dying in their sin, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

Christmas…An Interesting Time Of The Year

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Christmas season has always been an interesting time of year for me. One of the two most special times of year for many.  An interesting time to watch people as they go Christmas shopping. The warm feeling you get as you gather together with family. And the celebrating of  Christ’s birth and all that He has done for us. Sometimes Christmas is the only time people will step foot in a church besides Easter.

I don’t think I’ve ever understood why people would make a point to go to church on Christmas, but then every other Sunday of the year, they just keep going on with their lives. Almost like God is a toy that should only be taken out of the box on very special occasions. For me, God is the like the velveteen rabbit.  He is my very favorite, and I want to never part with Him. Although unlike the velveteen rabbit, because of what Jesus did on the cross, I never do have to part with Him!

Not only has He radically transformed my life, but He has forgiven me, He gave me a manual for life so that I never have to question what to do, He promises never to leave nor forsake me, He gave me a life that will last for all eternity, He has healed me, and much more.

But then there is the vast amount of people that don’t even know what Christmas is.  They don’t know about this Jesus that put on human flesh to be born of a virgin almost 2000 years ago.  They don’t know of the hope that He provides so that they never have to worry about anything ever again.  For some, they will never know.  Why? Because no one has ever told them.

We are in a battle, brothers and sisters.  Now is not the time to be caught up in the materialism that is our culture.  We need to stand in the gap for the many thousands who have never heard of Jesus’ name; who don’t know what Christmas is and the reason behind why we celebrate it.  What better time of year do we have the opportunity to give someone the hope of Jesus for Christmas?

For example, Gospel for Asia has a Christmas Catalog, why not buy something from there to bless someone over in Asia with the hope that’s found in Jesus? Let them experience the CHRISTmas for the first time in their lives.  How amazing would that be?

Or, taking a step closer to home, why not bless those around us that are less fortunate?  I know that there are many homeless people in Philly, why not invite them over for Christmas dinner, or go visit them and share with them the love of Jesus?

Thanks for standing in the gap with me for the lost in Asia! I know that together we are making an eternal difference.

Emmanuel Has Come…Yet Many Do Not Know

Over the past few years I have developed a love for the traditional Christmas song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  We sang it at church last Sunday, as it’s very fitting for the first week of advent.

For 400 hundred years prior to Christ’s birth, God had been silent.  The nation of Israel was in exile and they were desperately waiting for the prophecies about their Messiah coming to save them to come to fruition.

The words of this well known song portray a very different spirit than we tend to think about during this merry Christmas season:

“O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.”

To the Israelites, this is what the time leading up to Christ’s birth was about—waiting for the Messiah to ransom them.

How fitting for us today to think about our lives prior to Christ.  Without Him, we too are burdened with sin, captive to this world’s pains, and in need of someone to ransom us.  Praise the Lord we have Jesus Christ, who came on Christmas Day—the Son of God, God incarnate.  He humbled Himself and became one of us lowly human beings, only to die a horrible form of death with all of our sins upon Him and forsaken by the Father.  Yet willingly He did it—for us.  Praise God!  We can sing this song knowing the end!  We have been ransomed!

Yet 2 billion people on the other side of this planet are still waiting for Emmanuel to come.  In fact they don’t even know there is an Emmanuel.  They have no prophecies to give them hope, for they have yet to hear about their Creator and their Savior.

It is for their fate without Christ that I serve with Gospel for Asia.  Many need to hear about Emmanuel—”God with us”—who is Jesus Christ!  My heart yearns to let them hear the Christmas story.  My heart aches for them to finally be ransomed.

Rejoice with me this Christmas that Emmanuel has come, and that we know Him!  Please also pray with me for those who have yet to hear.

“Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to you, O, Israel!”

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