Monday, January 24, 2011
Today I wanted to take a short time and share an article by R. C. Sproul which I found convicting due to my struggles with right priorities.
In the next few days (Lord willing) I plan to put up several posts relating to Haiti (my trip and further information), My current endeavors, and maybe a book review. I plan for future to try to post 1-2 times a week.
Thanks for reading!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Sermon on Matthew 28:16-20
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Our text for today has been used by many in various places to justify all sorts of behavior. Our goal for today is to determine what Christ meant when He gave this command and what it means for us some two thousand years latter.
Let us first look at what Christ says: “All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth.” Why then should our hearts fail us for fear when He is all authority? As Paul says in Ephesians, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Thus we can clearly see that Christ is truly Authority in every sense of the word. We will come back to this later.
The next phrase: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Of course the first question here is, who is to go? In the immediate context we find that it just says “them” but in Mark we get a further glimpse of the context. In verse 14 of chapter 16 it says, “Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at table…” From a cursory reading of this it would then appear that only the eleven were meant for this command. But may I ask, how would eleven men go to the entire world of which some was as yet unknown to them? Simple, it is explained in the words “make disciples”. And specifically with what Christ says these disciples are to be taught. “To observe all things that I have commanded you,” does not this command to go to all nations and make disciples come under the further command that they are to be given ALL commands?
So in summary, we are to also go to all the nations. Thereby every nation on this earth will hear of the good news of Christ’s coming and sacrifice for sins.
Finally, we come to these great words of comfort, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” So we are to understand that all authority and in fact God Himself is with us until the end of time. It does not matter what the circumstance is. We could be with Paul during his last days and he would be sure to tell us that Christ is with him. Or how about that martyr Mr. Thomas Haukes who promised his friends as a sign that the flames which he was about to endure in 1555 while being burned at the stake were not too much to be endured. His promise was that he would raise his hands to heaven. On that fateful day as recorded by Fox’s Book of Martyrs, “When he had continued long in it, and his speech was taken away by violence of the flame, his skin drawn together, and his fingers consumed with the fire, so that it was thought that he was gone, suddenly and contrary to all expectation, this good man being mindful of his promise, reached up his hands burning in flames over his head to the living God, and with great rejoicings as it seemed, struck or clapped them three times together. A great shout followed this wonderful circumstance, and then this blessed martyr of Christ, sinking down in the fire, gave up his spirit, June 10, 1555.” Clearly, Christ’s love and presence was felt by this godly man. Why then should we fear? Why then should we falter when such a Guardian is looking over us?
With all of this in view let us progress to a discussion on Christian missions. Missions is the modern term for going to all nations. A simple definition would be, spreading the Good news of Christ’s resurrection through the whole world. Typically we think of evangelism.
What then is evangelism? Public declaration of the gospel with a goal of seeing souls saved and lives transformed.
Let us also be clear that in declaring Christ we mean that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a vicarious death, and was raised on the third day just as he promised, and now lives forever more.
If we look in the book of Acts we find that Paul, in particular, went to many nations and preached the gospel. In many ways Paul was the first large scale missionary. He had a typical plan of campaign. Upon entering a given city he would seek out the Jewish synagogue and on the first Sabbath preach the gospel. He then would expand his preaching to all within the city. Typically, he would see some converts and establish a church. On many occasions he stayed for a year or more to ensure that the church was established and had adequate leadership. Very often he encountered persecution. He was even stoned at one point. Yet he kept preaching the good news to all he encountered.
How then ought we to carry out our Lord’s commands to spread the good news to all nations? My answer to that question is multi-faceted. Yes, we are all to preach and make disciples of men. But this does not mean that we must travel all over the world to do this. God does not call all men to do this. Yet he requires that we spread the good news within our spheres of influence. It may be that you are a mother teaching her children about Christ. You may never get to see the effect your words have on others with whom your children come into contact with. Or you may be a worker at an office. Why not share your faith with those around you? Is there anything you have to lose that is not worth giving? After all Christ gave you His all. All you have belongs to Him. Perhaps the Lord has put a particular person on you heart. Yet you fear for what they will respond to your message. Yet the ultimate Authority in the entire universe has commanded you to preach and even given you direction. Fear not! Follow Him! We are not responsible for the out-come of the declarations; we are called to make that God’s department. We are just to declare.
Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to go beyond preaching to those directly around me. I traveled to Haiti and was blessed with the ability to aid the preaching of the gospel. The goal of the trip was to ensure that 5 shelters which our church had sent down for use by other churches in the wake of the earthquake were in full working order and to apply an anchoring system. But the Lord had other plans. During our very first few hours on the ground we were invited to attend a gospel meeting in another city. I was so blessed to see true gospel preaching taking place. Now due to the language barrier I was unable to directly preach the gospel. But what I could do was help those who did have that ability. I could further the cause by helping with these shelters which were used as churches! I ended up helping build an orphanage. But it was in a small village where the gospel was preached and plans were made to build a church as a part of the orphanage. Thus there could be a steady witness for Christ in that place. These and other ways are extremely effective ways of ministering overseas. It is not enough to give out food, clothing, and shelter, we must preach the gospel. Anyone can pass out stuff. Only we can declare the good news of Jesus Christ.
There has been a large amount of time, energy, and material poured into Haiti over many years. Knowing this before I went down there, it came as a greater shock to see how poor and without Christ the people were. Of course the monetary problem is greater after the earthquake, but nonetheless there are still many issues. For example, while there I witnessed a number of “tent cities”. The tents were primarily made out of old sheets, sticks, and tarps provided by the UN, and various relief organizations. There was very little being done to provide long term housing and a solution to the problems presented by the rubble. The additional issues presented by living in the tent cities are also not being dealt with for the most part. The people do not have a large work ethic, which would drive a recovery/rebuild.
The truth is that Haitians are quite used to western money being given out for free. They are, as a result, not willing to do what it takes to truly recover from the earthquake. This state of affairs deeply grieves me. In some ways, I believe that it might be better to simply stop giving money. Rather, give time and physical material. Yes, we ought to do all in our power to help the nation recover from the rubble and rebuild the infrastructure. But this is not going to be done simply by giving money to the Red Cross or other aid organizations. True this is needed, but not quite in the volume it is being given.
In point of fact, it is easier for us as Americans to just send money to an organization for distribution. It allows us to feel good about ourselves. It provides a bragging point. It fulfills the need we feel to help. But the cold hard truth is that the money actually prolongs true recovery for the country rather than speeding it up.
What the people of Haiti need is Christ. They must be set free. From what I saw on the ground, there is not near enough gospel preaching being done. This is the responsibility of the Christians who are living in country now, as well as Christians from around the world. The gospel is the only thing which can take this small country which is in such a straight, and set it on the right path.
On the ground, I did not see much evidence of this kind of ministry. True, there were organizations distributing food, clothing, shelter, etc. but no preaching ministry. This was attested to by the local pastors. Nothing showed this more clearly (or broke my heart more) than one particular tent village. As I rode past it, I noticed that all of the tents had tarps from a particular (and well known) Christian ministry. I began to think of all the money this particular organization is putting into the shelters. And although the shelters are necessary, there is no gospel being accompanied with the gift of tarps. To see this, and then to see the dire need the people have to hear the gospel was truly heart wrenching.
Seeing and understanding this, then helped me to think about missions around the world. If all we as Americans are known for doing is to give money and not the gospel, then there will be no lasting impact.
Rather, we ought to send down the necessary supplies accompanied by clear, Christ centered gospel preaching and teaching. The goal ought to be transformation of culture. After all as Van Til said, “Culture is religion externalized”. In reality, it is eternity alone which will matter.
How, you ask, is this transformation to be accomplished? Answer, simply by allowing the gospel to work in the lives of people. It is our God-given duty to preach and teach. However, we are also to leave the result of this in His almighty hands. Whatever comes of our sharing the gospel with others is only to His glory. If we can understand, this we will be much further toward seeing true success in missions. Numbers do not matter. How many hear and even the numbers that experience a changed life as a result of your ministry does not truly matter. What does matter is that we all fulfill the command of Christ to preach the Word, be instant in and out of season. We must at all times be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope which is in us. This is the essence of preaching the gospel.
So as I close, I challenge all of us to find ways to preach the gospel in the world around us. Start simple. It may be that all you can do is pass out a gospel tract. Yet that is preaching, friend. In time, God may give you a specific calling either to a person or type of ministry. It is possible that the Lord is calling some of you to fulltime ministry either here or in another country. Just remember, it does not matter who you are, if you’re saved you have a duty to share the good news with those around you. We serve the Almighty God who has all authority in heaven and earth. He has called us to this work. Let none of us bury the talents of salvation in the earth. But rather, sow the seed of the Word and bring forth an hundred fold. Instead of settling for giving out supplies, give the only true solution to any problem. Spread Christ far and wide. Tell of His excellent goodness. Speak His praise. Seek His face, and He will give you the direction you need to share the gospel with those around you, as well as spreading the message to all the nations.
Feel free to comment and let me know your take on this. I would love to discuss this and future posts on this issue. I still plan to post the rest of my experiences while in Haiti.
Monday, July 5, 2010
I am back in the USA! We have had several air plane delays. Currently I am waiting on a 10PM flight from NC to IN. I plan to wright about the trip soon. We did not have Internet the entire time we were in Haiti. It was truly a blessed time. I have learned much and served much.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I am currently in Chicago waiting to fly to Miami FL. From there I will be catching a flight to Port Au Prince Haiti. We should be getting in at about 4 PM EST.
Once there we (Shane Ison and I) will be working on some tempory shelters which our church purchased and Shane took down on his last trip. They are assembled but we need to inspect them and add anchors. Additionaly, we will be taking two family sized shelters down to two spific widdows.
For a little background, Shane Ison is a man from our church who has lead several mission trips in the last few years. He is a godly man who loves the Lord with his whole heart. I worked with him in construction last summer and fall. When he Lord put it on his heart to help the people in Haiti after the earth quake, I helped him in a few small ways with logistics. He has made three previous trips to Haiti. You can visit his blog to learn more about him and those trips at http://shaneison.wordpress.com.
I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve the Lord.
Please pray that as we attempt to serve the Lord and the people of Haiti (and spifically the churches) that the labour would not be in vain. Also that the Lord would be at work in everything that happens.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I have discided to stay with this layout and design for my blog. I hope it reflects my desires for the blog (more on that in a future post).
- The snow plow is almost paid for! Pray that I will be able to do this before spring!
- I am preparing to take a couple of tests to complete my SCUBA training.
- I am striving to understand a few aspects of Christian Missions for a sermon I am trying to write. (pray for discernment/understanding)
- The plow is almost paid for
- The Lord has protected me during all of my plowing.
- I had a electrical problem with the truck which I was able to get fixed. (the whole tail lights, reverse lights, turn signals, etc system quit after a plow. This was due to getting some tralor wires caught and pulled on.)
- The Lord is indeed God! And Lord of my life! He is at work!
Ps. Please let me know how I can be praying for my readers! Feel free to email me.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I have been plowing over the last few days off and on. I have put in a little over 30 hours. Friday/Saturday I was out for 35 Hours (with a couple of breaks). I went out on Tuesday morning for a few hours, and then again about 11Pm.
Currently I am taking a break as I was let off at 5Am. I may have more work at 7 Am (Wednesday). So I am sitting in my truck waiting for a call.
Thank you to all why have prayed for me! The Lord has truly been protecting me and my truck.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
This was one of three piles I made that got over 6' high! I was impressed with the ease of stacking with the plow.