Thoughts on Religion in England


imagesAs a missionary on deputation, I am always seeking to learn more about the culture and religion of the nation to which the Lord has called me.  My calling is to the country of England.  In my most recent trip to England, I was overwhelmed by the apathy of a people who are supposedly part of a Christian nation.  I have been doing some reading recently about the religious climate in England.  The statistics are stunning.  I’ve known that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the nation, but I had no idea what a stronghold that religion has on the country.  The recent census numbers lead the experts to believe that within the next 10-20 years the Muslims will overtake the nation, and they could even take over as the national religion.  The people in England who are claiming Christianity are mostly the older generation.  The younger generation is known to identify with other false religions rather than the national religion.  Even within the national religion there is so much fallacy that it is hard to know exactly what percentage of the country is Biblical in its view of Christianity.

With every article that I read, my heart longs to be in the nation to which the Lord has called to minister.  I long to be there NOW.  I know there are many missionaries who share this internal struggle as well as we travel on deputation.  What is the answer for the nations of the world who need the Gospel?  It is for our churches to send missionaries to them as quickly as possible to share the good news of the Gospel with them before it is eternally too late.  The Lord is going to come back soon.  What could you do to help a lost person on the mission field of the world hear the Gospel?  Maybe you could give to your church’s missions program.  Maybe the Lord would have YOU go.  Definitely you could pray that the Lord would send laborers into His harvest field and use each one of us in the area in which He has placed us.

Matthew 9:36-38 – “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

God’s Amazing Grace


images“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:24)

“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Romans 5:15)

“Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” (Psalm 66:16)

“He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25)

Sunday while listening to “Amazing Grace” being played, I thought God’s grace – His Amazing Grace. Grace according to the dictionary is the unmerited love and favor of God toward man. My mind just cannot fathom the depth of love that God has for me, a sinner, saved by the grace of God and God’s gift of grace which is by the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank you, Lord, for loving me.

“Amazing Grace”

John Newton published this song in 1779.

 

Amazing grace how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind but now I see.

 

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed!

 

Thru many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come;

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

 

The Lord has promised good to me,

His Word my hope secures;

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures.

 

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,

And mortal life shall cease,

I shall possess, within the veil,

A life of joy and peace.

 

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,

Will be forever mine.

 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less day to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.

 

To read about John Newton’s life go to www.awesomestories.com/asset/View/AMAZING-GRACE-Amazing-Grace

A Milestone!


imagesThe month of March has always been special to me—my birthday is March 3rd.  Birthdays at my house as a child were a BIG deal!  I’ve had to tone some of that down over the years, and I tried to teach my girls that though it may be YOUR birthday—it’s not all about you! :)

This year I’m turning 60 years old!  I’m not ashamed of that!  I’m thankful for the years God has given me.  I have been saved about 55 of those years.  How thankful I am that I was saved as a child, that I had a Christian mother that did all she could to teach me and guide me to do right, that later when my dad was saved we all attended church together, that I had an active youth group and youth pastors that cared about me, that I went to a Christian university, that I met a godly young man and married him, that we have had productive ministries, that our children love and serve God, and that today I continue in the things that I have learned.

There’s a lot to be said for age!  I don’t want to go back.  My head is full of information from my past experiences, and though sometimes I have to wait for a file to come forward that I know is in my computer-like brain—it IS there!  There are a lot of experiences and information to draw from!  Also, the longer I live, Heaven looks sweeter as more of my family and friends are there. I recently read a book entitled Heaven by Randy Alcorn (which I highly recommend).  It renewed my understanding of Heaven and what a glorious place it will be—more wonderful than we can imagine, I believe.  What glory it will be to see my Savior and spend an eternity with Him!

So, as I turn 60 years of age, I’m thankful for all that I have been through, the lessons I have learned, and the opportunities I’ve had to share those lessons with others.  To God be the glory!

II Timothy 3:14, “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”

Faith Without Works Is Dead


images     Recently, I was watching my neighbor shoveling snow, which got me thinking.  We’ve talked to him quite a few times.  During holidays, we’ve shared food and small gifts with him.  We have given tracts numerous times.  He knows we are believers.  He sees us going to and from church; but is our faith real to him, or is it all just words?

While watching, my thoughts went to, should I go out and help?  I didn’t really FEEL like it, but surely he could use some help with shoveling.  So I went out.

We worked together, and we chatted–not about spiritual things, just day to day things.  But it built our relationship further.

It was the right thing to do.  God had nudged me with His still small voice that I could’ve chosen to obey or ignore.  This time, I made the right choice.  I’m still learning that “…faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17)

So, I’m trying harder to look and listen for these types of opportunities.  I want to show others that my faith is REAL.  And too, Lord willing, one day open up an opportunity to share my faith and be a witness to bring others to my Lord and Savior.

 

 

Hide and Seek


24627063-mother-hen-with-its-baby-chickenPs 17:6 “I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.”

One of the fun games of my childhood was “hide and seek.”  The game is simple and may have a variety of names.  One person designated as “IT” was at a sort of home base and with eyes closed counted to 100 by 5s, while everyone else ran and hid.  With a warning of “here I come, ready or not” the designated person would begin a search for and attempt to catch his hidden friends.  If the “IT” person could catch anyone before they got to the home base, he was no longer “IT,” and now he could hide. The goal was to arrive at the base without being caught.  The game was a lot of fun, and we played it for hours.  Life is not a game, and our God hides us and keeps us safe so we are not caught by the enemy of our soul.

There are two conditions in Psalm 17:8.  One is keep me; the other is hide me.  The writer David is asking God to do both. He does not want to get caught by the one chasing him. Let’s look at “keep me.” What does he mean and to what extent is he kept?  David asked to be kept or guarded as the apple of the eye. We all guard/protect our eyes.  It is never easy to submit for eye tests.  We tend to pull back from that big apparatus the eye doctor uses to look at our eyes.

There is a guard about you today that allows no penetration of the enemy.  David is not making an unreasonable request. On the contrary, it is God’s delight to protect His child.  There is no breaching of the fold where He keeps His sheep. Lets learn to trust Him who alone has the watch care of our soul.  Each of us has some understanding of the need to protect our eyes. We do not play games with the safety of our eyes.  The keeping of your soul is not a game to God though it is His delight.

The second idea is “hide me” under the shadow of thy wings.  No doubt you have seen or heard about the mother hen who gathers her little ones under her wing for safe keeping.  The ability of God to hide us from our enemy is similar.  The idea here is that we are covered as we are hidden and thus protected.  We are covered with “the Blood,” if you please.  There is great saving power in the blood as there is great keeping power.  Psalm 31:20 states that the hiding takes place in the secret of His presence.  Psalm 32:7 says “Thou art my hiding place thou will preserve me from all trouble.”

I am thankful for childhood memories but I am much more thankful for the keeping and hiding power of God.  Ps. 119:114 “Thou art my hiding place….”

Stretched to the Max


untitledSeeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

– I Peter 1:22-23

We all feel the pulls of everyday life in every direction for every purpose.  Whether it is to help this person or that, or learn this process at work or that, or get this kid to this practice or game and the other to another, the pulling seems to never stop.  We get stretched to the max!

The events in our lives that stretch us to the max probably will not stop (at least not until we stop), but that is not the focus.  The focus, as Peter brings out in these two verses, is the driving force behind that maximum stretch.  Peter is addressing believers as he notes in verse 23, “being born again” and he encourages them by writing that their love of the brethren is without criticism (literally: without under judgment for you Greek scholars – ἀνυπόκριτος).  They love the brethren (philadelphia) wonderfully, and they do so in obedience of the truth through the power of the Spirit; but he does not desire them to stop there.

The last statement of verse 22 is a command to add to that philadelphia (φιλαδελφία) a different kind of love, agape (ἀγάπη).  The action of agape is qualified with a prepositional phrase providing a condition of the heart (pure) and an adverb providing capacity (fervently).  In a previous post agape was given a working definition, and it is in application here also; however, fervently is the focal point for us today.

The Greek behind the English term “fervently” is a compound term made of a preposition (ek – ἐκ) and an adverb (tenos – τενῶς).  The preposition is the concept of “from or out of” in a transitive sense so the result is to be “wholly out” and the adverb carries the idea of “stretch” providing the complete thought of “stretch wholly out,” hence, “stretched to the max.”

Pictorially, it is like taking a rubber band and stretching it to the point right before it snaps.  Or maybe a better one would be when you stretch your legs before you go for a run or exercise.  The first day you stretch to the max, you feel the pain, that burn, as you pull that muscle out to the fullest point you can bear.  Over time, that point gets deeper and deeper into that stretched position.  You find yourself reaching the toes, then going past the toes, and so on.

The condition and capacity have been discussed; the last point is the capability.  We, as Christians are born again of incorruptible seed by the word of God which lives and abides forever.  It is because of that fact that we have the capability to love the brethren (philadelphia - φιλαδελφία) without criticism AND love (agape – ἀγάπη) stretched to the max.

Events in our lives stretch us, but what is the purpose behind those events?  Are we choosing the right events to stretch us out?  Do they show the agape as Peter exhorts?  Each of us are at different points in our walk with the LORD and as such our max stretches are going to vary.  The point is to not just accept the status quo on your stretches.  From time to time, a little pain or burn is a good thing.  Do you feel the burn of stretching your agape to the max?  To God be the glory!

The Soul That Sinneth It Shall Die


THE SOUL THAT SINNETH IT SHALL DIE

            by Evangelist Dan Manka

1.  ADAM AND EVE ATE OF THE FRUIT.

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

THE BITTER PERSON HAS A SINFUL ROOT.

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

(CHORUS)

BE SURE YOUR SINS WILL FIND YOU OUT.

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

BE SURE YOUR SINS WILL FIND YOU OUT.

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

IT SHALL DIE, (IT SHALL DIE,) IT SHALL DIE, (IT SHALL DIE,) 

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

BE SURE YOUR SINS WILL FIND YOU OUT.

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

2.  KORAH AND HIS LEADERS FELL DOWN IN THE LAND.  

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

IN NOAH’S DAY THERE WAS SIN ON EVERY HAND,

AND THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.  (Chorus)

3.  PHARAOH’S ARMY CHASED THE JEWS DOWN INTO THE SEA.

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

GOD CHANGED THE KING’S LAW AND SET THE THREE MEN FREE,

BUT THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.  (Chorus)

God has commandments, principles, and laws in His Holy Word by which we should live.  Many sinners never fear God.  They never learn His principles or they do not believe His laws govern their lives.  Oh, that men would learn from a child that we must obey God, that we are sinners, that God has a principle of sowing and reaping, that our sins will always find us out and that a sinner without Christ will not enter heaven.

Too often, man thinks he can control his destiny.  He thinks he is free to live how he pleases.  He thinks he can cover his sin.  He thinks no one will find him out.  But that is all wrong.  There is always a “pay day, someday.”  God is like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police:  “He always gets His man.”  No one slips through the cracks with God.  No one gets away with his sin.  The soul without Christ will die in his sin.

Dear friend, If you have never asked Christ to forgive you of your sins, please, do it today, before it is too late, because the Bible says, “the soul that sinneth it shall die.”

 

 

Bringing In The Sheaves


untitledSowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

 

untitledSowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,

Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;

By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,

We shall come rejoicing, bring in the sheaves.

 

From Bringing in The Sheaves by George A. Minor, 1880

 

Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

 

Prayer


Praying-Hands-over-BibleWe are familiar with 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  Most Christians know we should pray more.  Perhaps we could use some simple reminders from the instructions in the example prayer that the Lord gave His disciples.

Matthew 6:9-13

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

 

Many points of application could be drawn.  Let us consider the following:

  1. Prayer is talking to our Father. Prayer is communication between God and his children. Are you a child of God? If not, prayer cannot mean much to you. Fellowship with God begins with salvation by trusting Him to save us through the death and resurrection of Christ. Also, since prayer is a time to talk to our Father; prayer is not a time for thinking about what others are thinking about us. We do not need to be embarrassed when we pray. Nor do we need to try to impress others when we pray. We are just talking to God.
  2. Prayer is telling God why we love Him. Jesus said, “Hallowed be thy name.” Jesus praised God for being holy. We should be thankful for all that God is and all He has done. We should praise His character in our prayer. Notice that Jesus concluded His prayer by crediting an eternal kingdom, power, and glory to God.
  3. Prayer is telling God we are sorry. Jesus said, “Forgive us our debts.” We should confess our sins as soon as we realize that we have committed them.
  4. Prayer is asking to have what we need. Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” James 4:2-3 explains that we do not have because we do not ask; and what we do ask is a selfish request. We should ask for what we truly need today.
  5. Prayer is desiring God’s desires to be accomplished. Jesus said this in several ways.
  • Thy kingdom come.
  • Thy will be done in earth…
  • Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

There is indeed much to pray about!

 

Reading the Bible Like a Horoscope


imagesA few months ago I took a job almost an hour’s drive from our home (when traffic is good).  It has been an exercise in learning to listen to good, calm music while observing some crazy drivers and not letting their tactics get to me!

Amazingly, the scariest part of my morning drive is about a mile from our home.  I enter our interstate on a short, uphill onramp, exiting into three lanes of traffic that are often chock-a-block at 5:30 AM.

Even more amazingly, I have only run out of room at the end of that ramp and had to continue on the shoulder three times so far.  But I have had one near miss when someone going very fast suddenly swooped into my lane right behind me, just as I entered it.

Those of us who have tendencies to OCD know that a situation like that can both bring out the worst of our fearfulness and drive us to our knees in prayer.

So it was that I opened my Bible one morning, while working through the vicinity of Psalm 100, and read the following:

Psalm 102:23, “He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.”

I then noticed that I was in the wrong chapter—I was supposed to have read Psalm 100 and Psalm 101. It was then I started to get scared. Was God trying to tell me something? Was I about to get hit in that on-ramp in ten minutes’ time?

But it was also then that I remembered all I have learned about my God in His Word. He does not let the Bible be used like a fortune-telling tool. Opening your Bible and randomly inserting your finger in it is no more likely to give you the counsel you need for your day than a regular Bible reading plan would! And many, many other believers have read the words of that verse many, many times in the past, then gone on to live a long life!

In fact, God most assuredly does not operate that way in this New Testament day. He does not use fear to control us and would gain nothing by announcing a sudden death in advance, even if it were going to take place.

God is good to those who are His. Some He blesses with long life and others He blesses in a different way. All we can do is confide in Him and drink deeply at the fountain of His Word every day.

With those thoughts and assurances, I confidently got my coat on and went out to successfully navigate that on-ramp once again.

Psalm 100: 3, 4, “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”