Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Woodpeckers in the Ark!

Any news about the persecution of Christians is sure to catch the attention of the church. In Iran a Christian pastor is under the death sentence. Seventy percent of Christians murdered in 2012 were killed in Nigeria. A recent report said that two churches in Sri Lanka are closed due to opposition by Buddhist monks. Much more is happening around the world that goes unreported by the media.

In a way the killing of Christians is an admission of failure by the various religions. They can’t handle the competition; it is like breaking another runner’s leg to win. It is a compliment! (This however does not mean that our hearts do not go out to our suffering brothers and sisters around the world.)

But as Martin Luther, in the hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, says:

“The body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.”

These attacks will not harm the church. They can kill the messengers but not the message.

The real danger to the church is in wholesale rejection within the church of the authority of the Bible. The foundation is under attack not by gun wielding non-Christian zealots but by smooth talking wolves in sheepskin from within the church. As it has been said, the most dangerous animal that Noah took into the ark was the woodpecker…ark

One pastor said, “I rather have heresy in my church than schism.” Yeah? Hear what Elijah said to the people on Mount Carmel: “Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.”

What this pastor is saying is that the Word of God is not important – heresies are not founded on the Word of God – but peace. Jeremiah says, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:11)

“They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:5, 6)

“If we compare what the Apostle John said with what a famous Church Growth advocate says, we encounter a problem. John says that the world will not listen to a true, unsullied Christian message. Rick Warren says that anybody can be won to Christ if we discover a message that will interest them through promising to meet their felt needs. The Church Growth idea is that we must study man (using the latest sociological, psychological, and anthropological insights) to determine how to create a church that will grow and a message that will be popular through appealing to a target audience. These concepts are contradictory. The Biblical idea is that we must speak God’s unchanging message of the gospel whether the world hates us or not: ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you’ (John 15:19). Someone is wrong here and I do not think it is the inspired Apostle John.” Bob DeWaay

Paul tells Timothy, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

But God is not interested in what we want to hear rather in what he wants us to hear. Look at the Schema, Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

“HEAR O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart …”

If somebody advocates a method that will work if followed closely, then God is not needed any more, because it is the method that brings the results. If a closely followed method will turn us into a saint where is the need for the Holy Spirit? Is sanctification the result of following a method or abandoning our lives to God, to Christ? Are we turning into spiritual Pavlovian dogs?

The failure in such method-oriented growth program promises is that God, whose name is tagged on to show it is Christian, will not cooperate; He will not show up. The Almighty will not be manipulated.

We must preach the whole counsel of God. It behooves us to listen carefully to what is prayed, what is sung and what is preached; is it Biblical?

If we water down the Gospel to please all, then to paraphrase Paul, “In that case the offense of the cross has been removed” (Galatians 5:11).

Martin Luther says that, “When the cross is abolished, and the rage of tyrants and heretics ceases on the one side, and all things are in peace, this is a sure token that the pure doctrine of God’s Word is taken away.”

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Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go…

I just got my Indian visa renewed for another year. After 41 years in the country that should have become easier, but – it hasn’t. But neither has my love for this country nor my commitment to it abated.

If you ask me, “Why do you love this country?” as some of my Indian friends do, I am hard-pressed to explain it. It certainly is not a mushy, romantic love; a walk through a slum or some backward villages or seeing how some people live in the big cities will disabuse you of such a kind of love. I think it is a love bent on the good for people. It is sort of like the Bible says of God, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” This certainly is not a mushy, romantic love. Whatever, I believe it is a love the Holy Spirit poured into my heart. I am immensely privileged.

When some people talk about going to work in another country, their commitment is summed up in, “Let’s wait and see what it is like.” The old cliché “Missionaries are not those who cross the sea but those who see the cross,” certainly cannot be applied to them. The cross speaks of supreme sacrifice and sacrifice is certainly not in vogue with the “Let’s wait and see what it is like” types.

It contrasts strangely with the commitment of missionaries of old. Below are but a few of the many that though unknown to the world or the church laid their lives on the line for their Savior and by doing so heard the Savior’s “well done thou good and faithful servant.”

William Carey died 9 June, 1834 (aged 72) in Serampore, India

Hudson Taylor died 3 June, 1905 (aged 73) Changsha, Hunan, China

Adoniram Judson died 12 April, 1850 (aged 61) at sea in the Bay of Bengal

Amy Carmichael died 18 January, 1951 (aged 83) Dohnavur, Tam, India

Ida Scudder died, aged 89, at her bungalow at Kodaikanal

Mark Buntain died 1981, in Calcutta, India.

Father Damien, Before...

Father Damien, Before…

...and After

…and After

Another beautiful story of commitment is that of Father Damien de Veuster. He began ministering to leprosy patients on the remote Kalaupapa Peninsula of Molokai Island, where some 8,000 people had been banished amid an epidemic in Hawaii in the 1850’s. The priest eventually contracted the disease, also known as Hansen’s disease, and died in 1889 at age 49.

“He went there (to Hawaii) knowing that he could never return,” “He suffered a lot, but he stayed.”

Admittedly the visa restrictions in many countries make things difficult and uncertain, but at least we should come with the attitude, “Here I will stay till the Government does us part — and not an unpleasant situation”. The latter you will meet in abundance and so “legitimate” reasons to quit – if you want to quit.

Enshrine in your heart the admonition of St. Paul in Galatians 6:9,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper
time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.”

Place these lines on the wall of whatever dwelling place you will inhabit:

“I wanted to commune with God
I went upon the highest steeple.
God said to me,
‘Go down again, I live among the people.’”

Times will come (and I am an expert on the following) when you want to run away from people, away from hearing the constant pleas for help. But you will only still their voices in your ear, not still their need, not their pain.

Jesus in the high priestly prayer in John 17 prayed, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” John 17:18.

When we figure out why God sent his Son into the world and under what conditions he lived and ministered and finally died, we can figure out what it means for us to be sent into the world.

If anybody is not prepared to meet these conditions then what a church officer said to D. L. Moody, when he applied for church membership, could very well apply to you:

“Young man (or young woman), you can serve God better by keeping still.”

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