Apr 26, 2008

Cultured in the Christian Petri Dish

Sometimes I have reflected in much gratitude that I have been redeemed in the manner the Lord has chosen. If I were to have made a choice at any point in my life, particularly regarding where, when, and what terms it were to occur, my salvation would be nothing but a farce. I think of the multitudes of people who unbeknown to them are not led astray, but just aren't aware. They have become acculturated and are neck deep in an experimental failure. I do not wish to statistically state, or prove my case empirically at this juncture, but would like to label this a "sociological observation."

While carrying a conversation today with a new friend, the topic of generational christians came up. I use this label loosely and would urge you to consider it with a grain of salt. This term being a reference to the children and families of Christians who have systematically and inherently grown up around a church. This is not a bad thing when in fact those who are in reference become born again and come to faithfully follow Christ. This is a horrible thing when there is never a profession of faith based upon legitimate conversion.

I express my gratitude to the Savior for this saving grace and the privilege of not having to wage the war of examination faced by so many who have to compare themselves to many around them who may not be in the faith. When in fact there are converts bearing fruit that is brought forth through repentance and faith, there is a much better chance that one would not fall to the wayside of ignorance. At least in the presence of the Saints, the unregenerate stand a fighting chance to rightly understand their state before a just and merciful God. In opposition to the sedative that is distributed in many pulpits today we must faithfully preach Christ crucified.

Final thoughts would conclude that the likening of the petri dish to the spread of generational christians is relevant. Although growth can come from many tactics, means, and methods, the growth of acculturated, duplicated, and ignorant false conversations is typically a result of adoption of moral similarities, attitudes, and behaviors. The outward form of godliness that does not reflect an inward change of heart does no justice to those who are looking for a Christian testimony that embodies the power of the Holy Spirit in thought, word, and deed. The end result is a stagnant experiment that breeds death as opposed to the injection of new life. What a battle this would be, and oh how it is one I'm grateful for not having to fight.

Remember, submission to the authority of Christ in all things directly results in the glorification of God in the end (I Peter 2:12).

Apr 24, 2008

Could You Pray With Us For A Moment?

VOM News and Prayer Update: April 22, 2008 "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5)


Forty-six Christians Arrested, Two Remain in Detention - China Aid Association

China Aid Association (CAA) reports that the Chinese Communist government recently launched a strategic campaign against house churches in Xinjiang Autonomous Region. As a result of this campaign, on April 13, 46 Christians were arrested by Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials during a Bible class and worship service in Kashi City, Xinjiang Province. CAA reported, "Forty-six house church Christians were holding Bible class and worship in the home of Mr. Ding Zhichun when PSB officials intruded into Ding's home and arrested all of them. Forty-four Christians were released after the trial day, following a 50 Yuan deposit to the PSB, by the family members." CAA added, "The Christians were mandated to confess their illegal Sunday worship activities and study the government's handbook on Religious Policy. They were also required to return and recite the policy to officials within one week." The Voice of the Martyrs supports and stands with Christians in China and encourages you to pray for believers who are living under immense pressure. Ask God to encourage and minister to the two Christians still being held by the police. Pray their testimony will draw nonbelievers into fellowship with Christ. Psalm 91


Four Christian Teachers Murdered - VOM Sources

On April 13, four Christian teachers, two of them converts from Islam, were murdered by Islamic militants in Beledweyne in south-central Somalia. The four teachers, two British citizens of Somali origin-Mr. Daud Hassan Ali (64) and Ms. Rehana Ahmed (32)-and two unidentified Kenyans, were shot and killed by Islamist insurgents during a midnight raid on the Hakab Private English School. The Islamic extremist group responsible for the violence, alleged that they fired indiscriminately and that the teachers were killed in crossfire. Local people, however, believe the teachers were singled out for their suspected evangelistic work. The wife of Daud Hassan Ali alleged that her husband was targeted because he was a Muslim-born convert to Christianity. Pray the families of those killed will rest in the knowledge that those who die in the Lord will be raised with Him. Pray the perpetrators of this attack will come to repentance and salvation. Pray for wisdom and protection for those serving Christ in Somalia. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


Pastor Beaten and Jailed in Samarkand - Forum 18 News

On April 3, Pastor Bobur Aslamov was beaten and jailed in the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, following a police raid on a house church meeting. According to Forum 18 News, "Other members of the house church were also beaten during the raid. The pastor remains in detention in an unknown location." At last report, no formal charges had been filed against him. Pray for the release of Pastor Aslamov from prison. Pray Uzbek Christians will continue to share Christ fearlessly despite the ongoing pressure. Ephesians 6:18-20

Apr 22, 2008

Muslim Outreach Support Needed

Hummus, grape leaves, and falafel sandwiches. Sound delicious don't they? I love Middle-Eastern Food. It is probably one of the healthiest diets I could adhere too. When I was younger I had the luxury of working in a Mediterranean Restaurant. I learned all the wonderful tips and tricks to making delicacies from across the Atlantic Ocean. This was a pleasurable experience for a teenager who was happy to be making $5.00 an hour.

Amidst all this experience and exposure to Middle-Eastern culture (food and friends), I was unaware that there was a large Muslim population right in my backyard. Dearborn, Michigan, and now the city of Hamtramck are some of the largest concentrated areas of the Arabic population outside of the Middle-East. This information would've been irrelevant to me had it been brought to my awareness and I would not have had a solitary care for them anyway.

Now the perspective has changed. I have become born-again and saved by Christ Jesus. Upon receiving salvation and coming to know His word and expressing obedience to His will, I now see things differently. I now know that Jesus is the only hope for all men, everywhere, from every tribe, tongue, and nation. This is a fact that has huge bearing on the lens in which I now view my Muslim friends in Dearborn.

The sadness I have is expressed in light of the vast concentration of Christian "churches" in the Metro area and I have at this time no evidence of any concentrated, sincere, or cooperative effort to reach this population. In times passed organizations have come in to the area and attempted to secure facilities to hold conferences that would educate the Church on Muslim evangelism and been outright rejected and sent packing. This is insanity, and utter disregard for the great commission Christ has bestowed upon us in the Scriptures. Fear has motivated so many forget that we are to preach the Gospel to all regardless of age, race, sex, or creed. If we withhold the Gospel because of personal prejudice and fear of persecution then we stand in qualification of examination against the Word to see if we are truly in the faith. If you know Christ it would seem logical that you would desire others to know Him also.

In June of this year there will be a conference held to equip the saints in Muslim Evangelism. They will learn techniques and become educated on the Muslim faith. Most of the time spent will be on the streets during an Arab festival putting these principles to work and fulfilling the Lord's command to preach the Gospel. I ask that you pray for this outreach. We are still seeking a facility and have applied for use of (1) that is pending approval. Pending this approval, their may also be fees for use of the facility and we would ask for prayer regarding supplication in that area as well. Operating on a small budget and focusing all available resources on tracts, bibles, and operating supplies leaves little room for facility rental. If you are willing to help out, or know of a facility in the Metro-Area that could sponsor this event free of charge, that would be answered prayer.

If you would like to volunteer, pray, or support this event in any way, please contact us and let us know.

Apr 20, 2008

Amazing Love

Typically, waking up in my home involves a bit of torture on behalf of my cat, some hustling up the stairway to escape the cold basement and a fresh cup of coffee. Most mornings go this way, but today, I awoke with this in my head...

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lam 3:22-23)

Apr 19, 2008

Back from T4G and Louisville

The Together for the Gospel conference ended yesterday afternoon and so did I! We decided to rent the hotel room one more night and catch up on some rest. I'd have to say it was the most delightful nap I've had in quite awhile. The bonus of the extra night was fellowship with my friend John from Louisville. We haven't see each other in year and a half and we got to just relax and talk. This was a great relief from the hectic conference schedule. There was plenty of great preaching, a lot of free books, and awesome fellowship with friends from around the country. But man was I tired.

After waking this morning, packing, and going to check out of the hotel, we were informed that there was a 5.2 earthquake at about 5:30am. I thought that was interesting and was slightly upset that I slept through it. Weird huh? Well, I am from the Detroit area and the only rumbling I experience are the 747's flying over my house. It's all good in the hood though right? We made it home safe and sound and I'm very challenged and inspired by all that the Lord has done this past week. I'd say the best part was singing glorious hymns and praises to our Savior in a 5000 voice chorus that was shaking the walls. His incredible mercy motivated so many to lift their voices on high and praise the King. Now, that's an audio I'd like to have!

Band Of Bloggers Audio
T4G Conference Audios
Conference Summary
Free Books we received!

Apr 14, 2008

Safe and Sound! Now IM EXCITED for T4G!

Thanks be to the Lord for a safe arrival. From Detroit to Louisville is a nice six hour jog and we made great time. I was growing a tad bit weary and was starting to doze near the end (driving always makes me tired). I was revived slightly around lunch time, thanks in part to a stop at SONIC Drive-In. We have the commercials in the Detroit area, but no actual drive-ins. I will say that the commercials are way better than the food.

On that note, I was unsure of how to tip the car-hop, or if we should. We decided to press the call button and have her come back out to get her tip and a Gospel tract. She said thanks and sped back to the employee entrance of the restaurant. It's funny how they skate around with there with their sophisticated non-spill trays that have compartments for all the handy dandy food items. I was talking with my road-mate about how it would be horrible to slam into one of the menu signs with a full tray. I fear I may have spoken too soon. As we were leaving, the young lady glanced at us and smiled, probably because of the Gospel tract we gave her (a million dollar bill), and next thing you know, she hit a crack, stumbled, and slammed chest-first into the menu board. OUCH! I felt so badly for her, on top of the embarrassment and pain, it appeared to be pretty humiliating. I hurried and turned my head so she didn't see that we were observing the entire situation (maybe save some dignity for her), and off we went. I can't help but think what was going on there, but pray for Michelle and the tract. Pray she reads the tract and ignores her slight moment of humiliation in the eyes of men. Pray the Lord softens her heart and brings her to him!

Now, I will be sharing the Gospel with the front desk attendant. She has given me several pointers of the parties in the downtown area, I've yet to reveal to her that I am looking for somewhere to fish for men!

Last but not least! I am growing more and more encouraged as the beginning of the Band of Bloggers and Together for the Gospel conferences draw near. I eagerly anticipate fellowship with so many dedicated men (and some women) who desire to glorify God in the preaching of His Gospel. It is a great priveledge and honor for me to even be here this week. When I think about where I was four short years ago, strung out on Heroin and clinging on to any shred of hope that I could grasp, my heart skips a beat. Then I breathe, and rejoice that the Lord Jesus Christ has saw fit for me to know him! Amen for His mercy and grace!

Good Morning, Good bye!

I've awakened with much excitement, yet feel like I haven't slept in days. Today marks the first day of a much needed "vacation" from work, school, and all the stress. I've worked diligently to get this time off and have chosen to use it wisely. This morning I will be embarking on a six-hour road trip with a friend from up north. We will be attending the Together 4 The Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Please pray for our road trip, the conference, the teachers, and for fellowship that will be glorifying to God. Also, please pray for a sincere learning experience for all of us attending, that we may become better equipped to serve the people of God! I hope to post while we are gone, but in lieu of being so busy, internet access, and time constraints, please do not hold me to that! I will be back with many wonderful things to share and look forward to posting them for you.

On that note, today's devotion from Spurgeon....

If I once wandered on yon mountain top, and Jesus climbed up and caught me, and put me on his shoulders, and carried me home, I cannot and dare not doubt that He is my Shepherd. If I had belonged to some other sheep owner, he would no have sought me. And from the fact that He did seek, I learn that He must be my Shepherd. Could I trace my deliverance to the hand of a creature, I should think that some creature might be my shepherd; but since he who has been reclaimed of God must confess that God alone has done it, such a one will feel persuaded that the Lord must be his Shepherd, because He brought him, He delivered him.

Apr 10, 2008

Daily Help from Charles H. Spurgeon - April 10

The old saying is, "Go from nature up to nature's God;" but it is hard working up hill. The best thing is to go from nature's God down to nature; and if you once get to nature's God, and believe Him, and love Him, it is surprising how easy it is to hear music in the waves, and songs in the wild wisperings of the winds; to see God everywhere, in the stones, in the rocks, in the rippling brooks, and hear him everywhere in the lowing of cattle, in the rolling of thunders, and in the fury of tempests. Get Christ first, put him in the right place, and you will find him to be the wisdom of God in your own expereince.

If I could even begin to fathom returning to the retired and fruitless means of seeing God through my own understanding I would surely say that it would be better to not understand at all. But, to revel in the joy of knowing Him from what He has already said about what currently is; that's hope and that's foretaste of all of His glory that is yet to come!

Apr 9, 2008

Do I believe! Only because He has made it so!

Previously, I mentioned this ridiculous battle going on in my mind and soul. Actually, it's not ridiculous but I'm becoming tired of it renting space in my head uninvited! There are principles at work that I know have much scriptural basis and there is also affirmation that what is occurring is legitmate. There is actually much joy to be had in all this!

While there has been evidence of struggle and I've found confidence in the existence of a struggle, I haven't been satisfied with just that much information. I was seeking more counsel, more affirmation, and looking to other sources for help. In the end, the source that has given empirical evidence and blessed assurance is the Word of God.

In the second Corinthian letter, the Apostle Paul wrote in reference to the revelation of the light of the Cross of Christ. In chaper 2 Cor. 4:4 he confirms that the god of this world (the enemy) has blinded the eyes of the unbelieving that they might not see the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. This seems pretty logical if you have a basic assent and intellectual understanding of how Scripture reads.

Herein lies my hurdle. I know the truths of Christ revealed in the Word. I also believe the truth of the Cross, creation, and general revelation provide ample evidence of a Creator and His divine nature. Also, I believe that this revelation is also enough to provide the evidence that is needed to leave me condemned before the judgement seat of Christ. Knowing all this, believing it in my mind, and affirming it with my mouth equate to zip.

Now the two collide and I have an inner struggle, an intellectual assent, and a desire to know the difference. I rejoice that I know there is a difference. But, how do I reconcile all of this information? Well, two things are evident. One, the inner struggle is a common trait that all of humanity experiences at one point or another and we just know there is something we are going to be accountable too. Is it not His law that is written on our hearts? Two, the intellectual assent provides logical and statistical data that helps one make a conclusive decision, but it can all be infactual and have no bearing on "actual truth" if it isn't real. Is this blog post is further evidence that I have a desire to make my calling and election sure? (2 Peter 1:10)

Reading in Scripture of the redemption to be had, the accomplishments of Christ on the Cross, and our Lord's glorious words, my heart and soul are happy. I rejoice in knowing that He will return one day and not only redeem His bride, but also reign as our King forever! This causes such a wonderful comfort and happiness that my feeble and poorly written words could not even begin to express it truly.

So back to the point! The enemy has darkened the minds of those who don't believe. This would provide a huge stumbling block and throw up a huge wall in front of all the insights that previously were said right? Right, so then what? Where do I find joy in all of this then? Well, if we read on in the Scriptures we'll see. If we believe any of these things, well have a resultant response in the preaching of Christ crucified, as this is the Gospel (2 Cor 4:5). Then we go on to find affirmation that if we see the joy in anticipation of our Lord's coming and seek to do His will in the mean time, we have the light of Christ revealed to us by Him (4:6).

In closing thought, this is where the rubber is meeting the road for me today. I'm sure it will take form again in some way tomorrow or another day. But, today I had joy, true profound joy that made me feel good that I knew Christ as Lord. Not because He's my fire insurance, but because He's my master, and I am His slave! I wish to do His will every day and my battle comes from the flesh trying to nag me about the ways that I don't. Thank God for repentance, and thank God for faith. Without either, I'd not know the Saviour.

Here is a link to an article at Desiring God by John Piper that helped me organize my thoughts on this matter! Praise God for John's devotion and insight into the Word. This has helped a lot!

Apr 7, 2008

I Believe! Right?

The nagging conscience can be one of the most annoying things I have ever endured. It ranks up there with the screeching of chalk on a blackboard. Worse yet, I would consider it in league with that fly that you keep missing with the flyswatter, it's continuous buzzing, and the flight path routed next to the same ear on ten-second intervals. Now in retrospect, this annoyance is also one of our greatest tools as Christians. Morally, this should provide the ways and means by which we gauge our decisions, thoughts, and actions. Of course, given our conscience is bound by the Word of God.

In daily struggle against that all too aware conscience of mine, I often come across the faith battle. This encounter sends my mind spiraling off into a war waged over faith. Do I believe what I say I believe? Is it really so that these things are as I understand them? Am I just a fool that has no real concept of the Sovereign Creator I call Christ? These things often trouble me. Intriguingly, when asked questions of the same nature from antagonistic, scoffing, and ridiculing persons, I confidently and appropriately appeal to the answers provided in Scripture. But, when faced with internal inquisition, I stumble and fall, often faltering to SELF.

This could turn into a drastically long exposition that I'm sure would be wonderful journey into the details of the Word. But, I've chosen to leave that part up to you! While I've been pondering and meditating on this dilemma almost everyday I stopped for a breather and read Tabletalk from Ligonier Ministries today.

Today's devotional entry hit the proverbial nail, dead on the head. The mention of Matthew 8:23-27 and Jesus' control of the elements provides powerful testimony to the power of God in the Incarnate Son. However, the simplest aspect of such awesome displays and sovereignty over chaos and destruction are dwarfed by the humble display of faith illustrated by Jesus. See, I never look at that part in this passage; it's usually glossed over with a minimal look of concern and overshadowed by the power used to control the storm.

Verses 24-25 illuminate the point I'm trying to make. (24) Jesus' sleeping amidst such noise and chaos occurring around Him shows His sleepy, tired, and worn-out condition in the state of a Man. But, His calming of the sea and the sound of His command (25) demonstrate His power as God. In between these two points we hear Jesus' properly assess the condition of the panicked disciples and inquire about their lack of faith. Oh, how I am that disciple. The faith of Jesus in the Father can be shown in His sleep amidst such clatter. While the disciples (me) question the control that our Savior has of our lives, even while He is right with us, He continues to demonstrate the example we are to seek after.

So, outside the potential that lies behind an exposition of the duality in this passage, I would like you to navigate away from this blog pondering the duality of our faith struggles. Mine personally finds ease in the evidence that within lies a struggle. It's duration has become slightly frustrating, but my confidence is in God. If the resultant lack of decent rest and strenuous mind contortion is for my benefit, I say bring the trial and I PRAY God's power in giving me guidance, strength, and refinement throughout the contest. Realistically, there is no contest, I already know who the winner will be.

Apr 5, 2008

Church Discipline Continued...

Today's addition to the topic of Church Discipline includes a sermon from Pastor Jeff Noblit of First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals in Alabama. These links will connect you to the sermon at www.SermonAudio.com

Church Discipline pt. 1 Jeremiah 6:14-16 .

Apr 3, 2008

Why reconciliation?

In light of some previous posts, I have decided to continue exploring the Scriptural teaching in matters of church discipline and reconciliation between believers. I find this no small irony that several others in the blogosphere have saw fit to explore this topic either. That said, because I have very little time to create a unique post, I will point you in the direction of some blogs that have posted some helpful and enlightening information on the matters.

Pulpit Magazine - "Let Them Know or Let It Go?" - John MacArthur
Are there any biblical principles to help us make the right choice? Yes! Here are six guidelines to help you know whether to quietly forgive or to lovingly confront.

Parchment and Pen - "A Case Study in Church Discipline." - C. Michael Patton
Julie, a long standing member of your church (non-denominational) and a good friend, asks to meet with you. She has always been a rather quiet and unhappy person, but this day she seemed more upbeat. You meet her for lunch as she has told you that wants to share with you some news. The news, however, comes as a shock and produces quite a dilemma.