Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Abiding, Not Striving or Struggling

The following is from Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes.

Missionary pioneer J. Hudson Taylor of China was working and worrying so frantically that his health was about to break. Just when his friends feared he was near a breakdown, Taylor received a letter from fellow missionary John McCarthy that told of a discovery McCarthy had made from John 15—the joy of abiding in Christ. McCarthy’s letter said in part:
Abiding, not striving or struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power … this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me.… Christ literally all seems to me now the power, the only power for service; the only ground for unchanging joy.
As Hudson Taylor read this letter at his mission station in Chin-kiang on Saturday, September 4, 1869, his own eyes were opened. “As I read,” he recalled, “I saw it all. I looked to Jesus, and when I saw, oh how the joy flowed!” Writing to his sister in England, he said:
As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been perhaps the happiest of my life, and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul.… When the agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory): “But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith but by resting on the Faithful One.”

As I read, I saw it all!.… As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured into my soul!

Friday, October 24, 2008

5 Solas of the Reformation

Saw this in a friend's signature line at the bottom of an email ...

We know from Sola Scriptura,
We are saved by Sola Gratia,
through Sola Fide,
in Solus Christus,
to Soli Deo Gloria.

For more on the 5 Solas, click here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Review of Fireproof

I had the privilege of taking Aimee to see Fireproof this weekend and was not at all disappointed! Fireproof is powerful and entertaining. It is the ultimate date-movie!

It has gripping action that had me nearly pulling my fingers off! It has sincere, believable characters that anyone can relate to; this is no Disney fairy tale! It mixes in hilarious comedy in just the right places! Most importantly, it points to Christ as the answer, not just to marital problems but to the answer of man's greatest need, reconciliation with God. And yet, it doesn't show an unrealistic 'prosperity gospel' where everything instantly turns around the moment someone 'finds Jesus'.

The movie closes with this verse on the screen.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
What a joy to see God's Word written on theater screens across the country, for millions to see and consider! Go see this movie, but be prepared. Aimee calls it a 'true love story'. It's not sappy at all, but there was not a dry eye in the house. We heard many sniffles and even a few honks (honking noses not firetrucks)!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Birthday Blog

Before my b-day festivities commence (I turn 33 today!), just had to get a couple things out.

First, I found a great article about Limited Atonement. It shows convincingly that the difficult doctrine of limited (particular) atonement is inseparably linked to the other five Biblical points of Calvinism. Here is the compelling article by John Hendryx ...

Is it Possible to Deny Limited Atonement?

On the lighter side, I really like the SacredSandwich website. It's funny. Click the Twin Theologians for a very funny review of the new movie Fireproof.

Also, by far one of the funniest things I have ever read (certainly in the last month), is about what happens when a church potluck dinner goes terribly wrong!

It will certainly make you think twice about bringing green-bean casserole!

Churchgoers Survive Potluck Nightmare

Finally, here is a poem I came across in MacArthur's Think Biblically! (p. 53) Kate B. Wilkenson expresses what our desire should be as followers of Christ:
May the mind of Christ my Savior
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and pow'r controlling
All I do and say

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Early October Happenings

It's been a busy couple of weeks, so I thought I'd post a few things to let you know what God's been doing...

1) I was sent to Boston for work last week. Only my first business trip in 8 years at State Street so I loved it! While not working, I had a good time walking the historic city and meeting Peter, a Christian brother I'd met through the Bible Study Network group at work. Here are pictures (mostly buildings and monuments, but there's a couple of pictures of the people I work with and my buddy, Peter).

Peter shared an amazing testimony of how the Lord preserved him during a period of unemployment and brought him through the trial--he has 5 kids--to the company he's at now. He is paid more and hopes to start up a Bible study network group like we have at State Street!

2) I had posted a recent blog to get the word out about the Omaha Bible Church annual conference featuring D.A. Carson. I did not have an opportunity to go, but they have posted all the messages here ... Making Sense of Suffering with D.A. Carson

3) While God answered my prayers with a 'no' on the Omaha Conference, that opened the door for me to go to a Chinese outreach event at the Balmans farm in Wellsville. I go to church with a brother in Christ who opens up his farm for events hosted by Countryside, such as the Men's Steak-Out, Battle at the Balmans (teens), and this year's 2nd annual Chinese Outreach Event.

It was really neat to spend time in fellowship with some from our church and the Chinese from their fellowship which meets in the north part of KC. Mike Sanders drove the church van to pick up the 50-some Chinese, and then we played volleyball, basketball, trap shooting, and other games. We had an American meal of hamburgers and hot-dogs cooked on a giant grill. Pastor Bryan Neal and I assisted Mike Sanders with the grill (we were also assisted by a young man named Yao Ming--I kid you not, apparently it's a pretty common name in China!) He is a good cook in Chinese food and was determined to learn some American cooking! Not sure he learned much from us three, but at the lest he got the feel for what Americans do.

After the meal, we gathered around a bonfire for some delightful Chinese Christian music. The believers in the fellowship shared a few songs in Chinese after explaining what the lyrics were, all very honoring to Christ our Lord. Then we heard from our associate pastor, Otto Skoog, who gave his testimony through an interpreter, Manuel. Manuel is a brilliant Chinese linguist. He knows at least 4 languages, but his second language was Spanish (thus he goes by Manuel). He also knows English, and Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese. Otto shared a powerful testimony of how God rescued him from a rebellious life of sin and unbelief. Though once an athiest, God opened his eyes to his need for salvation through Jesus!

What a great night of fellowship with these Chinese brothers and getting the opportunity to reach out to some of the unbelievers in the group as well. I have no doubt that God will mightily use Pastor Otto's testimony in the lives of several of the atheistic/agnostic Chinese friends.

On Sunday, Brian Balman shared with me that he'd been reading Psalm 107 and how it echoed much of the truth we heard Saturday. What a great passage that reminds us of our darkness before we came to know Christ, and the thankfulness of those who have cried out to God in mercy, who alone can reconcile us to Himself through Jesus Christ!
1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
3and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

4Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
6Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
14He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
15 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

17Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18 they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
20He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
21 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
22And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

23Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24they saw the deeds of the LORD,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33He turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
34 a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the evil of its inhabitants.
35He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
36And there he lets the hungry dwell,
and they establish a city to live in;
37they sow fields and plant vineyards
and get a fruitful yield.
38 By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their livestock diminish.

39When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
40 he pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
41but he raises up the needy out of affliction
and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad,
and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rolf Family to perform Saturday, Oct 11th!

(click to enlarge flyer)

Just wanted to let people know that the Rolf's will be playing in a concert Saturday. If you haven't seen the Rolfs perform yet you're missing out! What a treat! They play for the glory of God and proclaim Christ in their songs and testimony! Here are the details ...
Saturday, Oct. 11th at 7:00pm. The Alferd Packer Memorial String band will be performing. They are a talented and very funny band that keeps you entertained all evening long. Due to the PCC renovation, this will be held at the Paola Middle School auditorium. Tickets are only $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Opening up the show will be the Rolf family from right here in Paola. If you have not heard them yet, you are missing out. Both of these groups perform fun, family-friendly bluegrass acoustic music that everyone’s sure to enjoy. Tickets can be purchased at the Paola Chamber of Commerce office, Gail’s Glass, or by calling me at 731-3972. Call today for your tickets!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Complete in Christ - Spurgeon

Great quote by Charles Spurgeon:
Our salvation is complete. The robe of righteousness in which we are clad is finished. The atonement for our sins is fully made. We are reconciled to God, beloved of the Father, preserved by his grace, and supplied by His providence with all that we need. We carry all our burdens to him and leave them at this feet. We spend our lives in his service, and we find his ways to be ways of pleasantness, and his paths to be paths of peace. Oh, yes, we have found rest unto our souls! I recollect the first day that I ever rested in Christ, and I did rest that day. And so will all of you who trust in Jesus as I trusted in him.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Skid Row - Part 4

Dan shared these prayer requests...

Hey, I thought I'd post these Skid Row prayer requests. Please remember that every name has a face and a story of desperate need. They are what we collected as a group. Thanks Jillian!


Please pray for:

- Jesus: a little difficult to understand because of the language barrier and we're not sure how well he understood us either. Pray that he would read his Bible and that the Holy Spirit would speak it to his heart.
- David: Jewish, heroin addict. Really opened up to us about his life and listened as we shared the gospel with him. Pray that he wouldn't see it just as what works for us, but as the hope he needs to be reconciled to God.
- Larry: out of gas, searching and responsive to the gospel.
- Nato: has glaucoma
- Leanne: still very sick
- Warren: didn't believe Scripture was God's word
- Evelyn: wants to see her children, addicted to heroin, needs Hope
- Sheri: alcoholic, raped and abused, pray that she'd understand the gospel
- Johnny Boy: really quiet, talked to him about God
- Dolphus: has a "choice to make"
- St. Louis: wife just got out of hospital, pray for her healing, daughter pregnant and about to have baby, pray that he'd grow closer to Christ
- Teddy: rough life, drug abuse, beginning to understand gospel
- Jermaine and fiancee Natalia: son Nyrel, Jermaine has "learning problem"
- Rod: son, health and well-being
- Victor
- Wolfgang and Evan: from Germany, pretty hard to understand, they were looking for money they had lost
- Mike: was presented with the gospel very clearly, listened intently but said "not right now" when asked if he would like to respond in any way
- Alonzo: hateful to the truths of Christ that were presented to him
- Ricardo
- David: young man was on drugs, asked for food, spent time talking with our group and was impacted by the care they showed him
- Heather: mental stability, has been in and out of hospitals for 17 years
- Tony, Tony and Linda: need housing. Linda can't find her granddaughter
- Wydell
- Jonathan: housing, strength, salvation
- Jenn: health benefits, healing of ribs
- Dawnetta: restoration with son, get him off streets, stop selling drugs
- Nicholas: get into program, salvation
- Kadeem: understand gospel and deity of Christ.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Skid Row - Part 3

September 19-20, 2008

I spent my time on Skid Row tonight being challenged in what I was doing. I did not have the opportunity to talk with any of the homeless, but I was encouraged by my talk with Siona, thinking through what Skid Row has meant to me the last three weeks.

Skid Row has challenged me in so many ways. I have found that my faith is strengthened by going and sharing the gospel with people. This surprised me at first, because my thought has always been “I need to be super strong and not experiencing much struggle with sin or doubts whatsoever if I’m going to share the gospel from the right heart”. What I have found is this – sharing the gospel with people has actually strengthened my faith!

I think it stems from this: at TMC I am constantly taking in excellent Bible teaching, learning from professors and chapel speakers, being challenged by godly friends to run hard after God and to forsake sin – at times this can almost weigh down on me in the sense that I am being challenged so much that I focus almost entirely on the war within, and forget that Christ has paid for my sins and brought me out of the kingdom of darkness into his marvelous light! It’s almost as if we (Christians) tend to surround ourselves with so much light that we forget what darkness looks like – and the areas of sin within us can discourage us to the point of feeling as if we were in the very darkness we’ve been saved from!

What I’ve experienced on Skid Row is that I am faced with people who walk in complete darkness. I don’t mean because they are homeless (that is not a sin in itself) or because some smoke crack and others sell their bodies for unnatural uses – I mean they do not know Christ. They are completely dead and blind. When I talk with them and share the gospel with them, I realize that I have a hope that they do not have, and that I have seen the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6) – they never have! My doubts and discouragement fade as I see the Holy Spirit working through me and God placing me in situations where He can use me and glorify Himself.

As I said, tonight I spent my time being challenged in what I was doing. I met up with Chris Sykes again. He can come across very intense! He told us (after discussing some very difficult things) that he likes to ask very hard questions so that we all think about what we’re doing. I won’t go in to all the details of our conversations, but they revolved around motives, answering some of the arguments people will come against us with (role-playing the scenario with the guy railing at us from last week, only in a calmer way), and grilling us on our presentation of the gospel. He emphasized the need to get to know people, saying that he didn’t “know” Siona or me, or us him, because we haven’t cultivated a relationship yet with him (which is true). He stressed the dilemma that we face coming down from TMC and not being able to follow-up well with people we talk to. I learned a great deal from our conversation, even though Chris can be a little intimidating! I felt discouraged somewhat talking to him, somewhat confused and offended even, but in the end I could see that all he meant was to be honest and helpful.

As Chris helped us see some of these things, three of our group members were peering down into a large cardboard-box walled off area and talked with Alonzo and another person inside about Christ. They were receiving abusive speech in return, especially from Alonzo who was yelling and cursing the Truth they were being offered.

A man named Mike walked up. He was an older white guy with a ponytail and deep wrinkles in his face. We met him and gave him some water. Chris turned and preached the gospel to him like I’ve never seen. He was concise, to the point, thorough. He said, roughly “Can we talk with you a minute Mike? We’re down here telling people about Jesus Christ. Can I ask you a question – if you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?” Mike answered, genuinely and softly, “No, not really.” Chris then told him the good news, and warned him of the wrath to come. He asked him, “Mike, would you like to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior”. Mike said, “Uh – not right now”. So Chris bid him a good night and Mike went on his way. It was incredible. No pressure, concise and thorough, hope balanced with sufficient warning of the consequences of unbelief.

We were a little late getting back to the cars, by the time we all got on the road it was around 1:00 A.M.

Please continue to pray for this ministry – both for the people on Skid Row, their salvation and their safety, as well as for those of us trying very hard to learn how to bridge very real cultural gaps and be effective for Christ in such a hard place to know how to best minister the gospel.

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike