Sunday, January 28, 2007

WHAT KIND OF CHEVY TRUCK WOULD I BE, IF I WERE A CHEVY TRUCK?

The other day, I took a quiz to see what kind of Chevy truck I would be if I were a Chevy truck. They seemed to think that I would be a 2007 Silverado S/S. They don't know me like I know me. This is much closer to the truth. A 1935 Chevy pick up.
I don't want to leave the Ford lovers out. If I were a Ford truck, what would I be? Broken down! Hee, hee.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

EXCUSES, EXCUSES

This week I am in Astatula, Florida. I am preaching each morning in a Bible conference at the Astatula Baptist Church. For that reason, I haven't had time to do a really for real post. I do, however, want to continue posting on some of my experiences and challenges as I served on the mission field. At some point, I intend to do a post on how to pray for a missionary. I realize that is nothing new, but I want to put in my two cents anyway.

Stay tuned and, if you have a moment, pray that our Lord will use me this week to glorify Him.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MISSIONS AND THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD'S WORD #2

As promised in the previous post, I want to explain how difficult it can be to try to build a work for God on the mission field while being faithful to the conviction that His work can only be accomplished through prayer and the ministry of the Word.

My convictions on this matter were severely tested in many ways. One way in which they were tested was by my own selfish desire to hurry things along. This desire is particularly deceptive because it often masquerades as a desire to accomplish things for God's glory. However, by prayerful examination, it becomes clear that it is more akin to a desire for my own glory than for God's glory.I confess that in the pride of my heart, I longed for the gratification of a pat on the back for a job well done. Although I knew that if I would just be faithful to work in God's way, He would reward me; still, it's nice to be appreciated by men too. There is always that image in the back of the missionary's mind of being able to return to the states and tell of his accomplishments and his exploits to the amazement and the congratulations of his audience. This temptation must be resisted though, knowing that at the moment we win the approval of men, we loose the approval of God.

My convictions were also tested by the "apparent" success of those who didn't share my understanding of how missions should be carried out. There was an occasion when a group of Pentecostal missionaries came into the town in which we were living. They were there for about a week having "evangelistic" services each night. When they left at the end of the week, they had a church going with a pastor (who just one week before was an unsaved Roman Catholic) and a fairly large congregation.

Now that will make you examine your methods! I was not having that kind of instant success.That drove me back to the Word and prayer. In prayer, the Lord reminded me of the parable of the sower and the soils in Matt.13. He reminded me that plants in unprepared, rocky soil spring up quickly, and that weeds grow where there is no cultivation of the soil, but a fruitful and desirable crop requires hard work and careful cultivation. So, I survived to plant on for another day.

My resolves were tested by other missionaries also. Although we didn't live near other missionaries, there were others within a two or three hour drive. One who had been on the field for more than twenty years, sent word that he wanted to talk to me. When I went to his house, he began to show me the statistics he had been keeping on the responses to his ministry. He pointed out that the numbers clearly showed that the response was much greater when he showed films than when he preached. He said:"Based on these numbers I am changing over almost exclusively to movies in my evangelism." He went on to offer his services to me, to show his films in my works to help me get more results in my ministry.

That kinda put me on the spot. I didn't want to be critical of his ministry, but at the same time, I felt I had to refuse his offer. "Why not?" he said. "The numbers speak for themselves. Don't you want to have more people saved?" (My opinion on that question would require another post, so I won't go into detail here.) I said; "Of course I want to see more people saved, but I determined when I came to the field, that I wanted to see if God would still build a 'work' through prayer and the preaching of His Word alone like He did before movies were available." This is no exaggeration. He exploded! He verbally attacked me, my ministry, my motives and my methods. I tried to remain calm, as I said;"Brother, if you are convinced in your heart that this is the way God is directing your ministry, then I will not criticize you for it.(I guess I kinda lied on that one, because I have been critical of his methods.Sorry!) However that is not the way God has directed my ministry so thanks, but no,thanks."

Mission work is spiritual warfare, folks; and..." the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." (2Cor.10:4 )

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

MISSIONS AND THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD'S WORD

I made this assertion in the post entitled"Why Would a Calvinist Go To The Mission Field?": "The Calvinist knows that the Word of God is sufficient and powerful enough in itself to effectively bring men to Christ. This I say by experience: He may be the only preacher on the field who has complete confidence in the power and sufficiency of the Bible he preaches to accomplish God's holy work."

I can say this by experience because I have been there and have personally witnessed the bag of tricks that many men use on the mission field in order to get results. Pragmatism is alive and well in modern missionary enterprise. Our supporters demand results. Quick results. And we had better produce them, or we will be in danger of loosing our financial backing. Men like Carey and Judson who labored long before seeing their first convert would not fit in well with modern missionary expectations.

I certainly don't intend to try to present myself as a model missionary. While on the field, I fell far short of my own expectations, not to mention God's standard. However, I can only speak of my own experiences and my own understanding of how missionary activity should be carried out according to the Scriptures. In this post, I want to give you a brief look at a few of the principles that guided my efforts on the mission field.

#1. Jesus said ..."I will build my Church..." Therefore, I will labor according to the principles of His Word knowing that He is faithful who promised.

#2.All through history, God's men have succeeded in ministry using the means of prayer and the preaching of the Word. Therefore I will use those means only, knowing that whatever is accomplished will be His work and not mine.

#3.Paul said in Rom 1:16 " For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." The Gospel of Christ is sufficient to bring men to saving faith. I will trust it's power and resist the temptation to try to "help it" by any artificial means.

#4.The results are His business, not mine. He has commanded me to go and preach, so I will go. If, through my preaching, people are saved, I will praise Him. However, if I obediently go and faithfully preach, and no one is saved, I will still praise Him because the results are His business. My responsibility is only to obey, not produce results. I can't save anyone anyway.

Please don't assume that it is easy to be faithful to these standards. they were severely and often tested. Tomorrow, the Lord willing, I will relate some of the ways in which these convictions were tested.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

WHY WOULD A CALVINIST GO TO THE MISSION FIELD?

The other day I had a conversation with a pastor who had invited me to preach in a Bible conference at the church where he is the pastor. Knowing something of his background and having heard him say a few disparaging things about Calvinism, I thought it to be only right that I should tell him up front that I am a Calvinist. (I don't necessarily like the term Calvinist, but I use it here because most people will be able to easily identify my doctrinal position.) He asked how long I had been a Calvinist and I said, "always" (Not always in the sense that I was born knowing and loving the doctrines of grace, but always in the sense that I have always been a Calvinist since he has known me.). He said something like, "You mean you were a Calvinist when you went to the mission field?" "Yes I was", I said.

It seemed that he could hardly believe that a Calvinist would be a missionary. That's because he had been led to believe ,as many others seem to believe, that Calvinism is inconsistent with evangelism. Nothing could be further from the truth! I am aware that there are some who have miss-applied the doctrines of grace and allowed their flawed thinking to make them hyper-Calvinists who do not see the need for evangelizing the lost. However a truth-loving honest Calvinist cannot help but obey the "great commission".

Here are some reasons why I believe that a Calvinist would go to the mission field. Hey! There are 5 of 'em! Ain't that a coinkydink?

1. The Calvinist views the "great commission" as a command, not as a suggestion.
Although he believes such doctrines as total depravity, unconditional election, and particular redemption; these truths, contrary to what many say, do not kill his willingness to evangelize. He hears his Master say:
Mar 16:15 ..."Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." So, he goes. He takes his Lord's words as an happy obligation and preaches the good news to every creature. He holds no doctrinal position that would release him from his obligation to obey a direct command of his Lord.

2. For every child of God and especially for the Calvinist, proclaiming the gospel is the natural result of having experienced saving grace. Having been regenerated from death to life, and having understood and experienced the saving grace of God through the effectual working of the Holy Spirit, one cannot help but tell it to others. Saul of Tarsus (later renamed Paul) began to preach Christ immediately after his conversion (Acts 9:20). Someone has said "Evangelizing is one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread."

3. The Calvinist knows that the doctrine of election guarantees that there are "other sheep" in whatever people group he is evangelizing.
Joh 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Because of this he is encouraged knowing that his labor is not in vain. God will use his faithful preaching to bring His people to Himself.

4. The Calvinist knows:
A. That the preaching of the cross is God's appointed means for saving those who believe.
1Co 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
So he, with joy and passion, preaches it.

B. That the Word of God is sufficient and powerful enough in itself to effectively bring men to Christ. This I say by experience: He may be the only preacher on the field who has complete confidence in the power and sufficiency of the Bible he preaches to accomplish God's holy work.

5. The man who best knows the doctrines of grace is one who has glimpsed something of the glory and majesty of our high and holy God. He is so awed by God's glory that he wishes he had a thousand tongues with which to praise Him, but alas! he has but one. So he goes forth convinced that God is worthy of much more praise than he alone is able to give. He preaches the good news longing to reach others who will join their hearts and tongues with him and with all those who worship the God of glory. His daily consuming desire is for one more different voice in the choir sounding forth it's unique note as it sings God's praise. One more heart that is captivated and awed by His majesty, and one more witness to His truth so that still others may hear and join the chorus of praise.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that it is the Calvinist who has the right message, the right method, and the right motivation for scriptural missionary activity.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A COUPLE OF GOOFY LOOKIN' PICTURES

These are the grandpuppies. This is the closest I was able to come to a good picture of them all together. As of today there are 8 of them, but Steve's wife, Greta could deliver #9 (a girl) at any moment.




This is a picture of the 3 stooges . I don't know what they are laughing at. They are usually more solemn and respectful.

OKAY I'M BACK!

Actually I've been home for over a week, but I have had sermons to prepare and deliver as well as 2 weeks worth of grass to mow. The blessing of living in Florida is that you get to enjoy lawn care year round.

Also I'm preparing to preach a Bible conference in Astatula, Fla. later this month. All this is difficult for a lazy guy like me.

Hopefully I'll get a new post up by Monday. Thanks for being patient with me.