In this new year, could I suggest you add to your regular prayer list pastors for the church in Asia? As the Holy Spirit continues growing His great work of enlightening and enlivening the gospel throughout Asia, we continue to see the greatest need being men to preach that gospel and the preservation of those already preaching it.
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ.’” (Mark 8.29 E.S.V.)
“Before leaving this subject, special attention should be called to the fact that the words of Jesus ‘But you, who do you say that I am?’ convey a very important lesson, namely, that a true believer is one who is willing, whenever necessary, to express a conviction that is contrary to that of the masses. In the best sense of the term, the believer is willing to come forth boldly in the interest of the truth.
The Kingdom is for vigorous people …for strong and sturdy men like Joseph …Moses …Joshua and Caleb …Samuel …David …Nathan …Elijah …Jehoshaphat …Daniel and his three friends …Mordecai …Stephen …Paul …Epaphroditus …Onesiphorus …and the apostle John …It is for such valiant women as Ruth …Deborah …Abigail …Esther …and Lydia.
Conformity with the world, compromise on basic issues, the unwillingness to be distinctive, is strongly condemned in Scripture …not being ‘of the world’, believers are shining lights in the midst of the world …They are spiritually different from the world, in order to be a blessing to the world.
So here in Mark 8.28, 29, […]
I was flying home from a conference with two of the army ‘scripture readers.’ The older man opposite was grimacing in some pain. O.K., so we shouldn’t have been sitting in the disabled seats, but there was plenty of room. The thickly set (I’m one to talk) gentleman leaned forward and something dropped out of his pocket.
I watched, then waited, and thought… I took his mishap as a providential opportunity to initiate a conversation; so I smiled, then said: ‘Excuse me, you have dropped something out of your pocket!’
He looked down, blushing, spied his wallet (I think) on the ground (or maybe that was the second time it happened, and was just some medication on the first occasion), picked up the item, and thanked me, in a rather reserved manner.
I was sure, on first sight, this man was probably Austrian: his face looked Germanic (he could have been Martin Luther), and he was wearing what seemed to me a bit like lederhosen (a grey woolen jacket with a dark green lining around his collar and cuffs). I was almost expecting him to break out in refrains of ‘Edelweiss, edelweiss’ in the manner of Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews on ‘The […]
It would be ridiculous to deny that Christian are drenched with countless blessing both material and spiritual. Yet it would not be overstating the case to recognize that every Christian personally, and Gospel workers in particular, have the greatest share or portion not in this life but the next. Glory, for the main part, belongs to worldly men. In this valley of tears believers are often heaped with shame.
It is in the context of despised, inglorious, faith that the apostle Paul mentions a ‘double groan’ of the Gospel to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5.10. His double aim is confidence in their travail for the Lord and consolation for the afflictions and reverses they endure.
The Gravitational Groan
Our home is not down here, but with God in heaven above. Paul contrasts the temporary, flimsy, earthly body with the permanent, indestructible, heavenly frame – one day soon we will be like the risen, exalted, Lord Jesus, death swallowed up in glory, in the Temple prepared by God. Contemplation of this new resurrection body, in the likeness of the glorified humanity of our exalted Lord Jesus, should be light a magnet which draws our hearts, by soul-transforming, heart-rejoicing, triumphant-overcoming, walking by faith and […]
Just back from the gym! It’s been a rather hectic week – well behind on preparation. Yet, it has also been the best personal witnessing week for a few months. Had two or three long chats with total strangers who have been stopping me to ask questions.
Tonight, in the sauna, however, really ‘takes the biscuit’ (an Irish term that means gets first prize)! Let me be very brief indeed.
Three strangers (man & wife and another young man in his early twenties) plus me in the Sauna.
Young man says to us ‘as older people, what advice can you give me?’ You are probably as shocked by that as I was.
After hearing the fairly bland response of the older man, I said ‘I’ve never been asked that question before by a younger person: here’s three things I would say to you.’
The first is…….
The second is…….
The third is…….
Three answers, six words, for maximum impact (by the grace of God, with the help of the Spirit). I’ll probably never meet the young man again!
What would you have said?
Chat in Corinth
‘Have you heard about the latest Church Growth Model in Corinth? The latest preachers in Acro Creek think they’ve nailed success! O.K., it’s a little alternative, and it’s the opposite to what Paul said (but then again, for some strange reason, he seems to have cancelled his announced visit – some lame excuse about an unforeseen turn of events)! Yet, we cannot help but notice, it does seem very popular: it appears to be working! They’ve definitely had results! The crowds of pagans are flocking! They’re going to extend their buildings! Even better, there’s no suffering, so perhaps we should give it a go.’
Model for Ministry
If that was the chat in Corinth, it would explain Paul’s loving determination to put the record straight, and turn Corinthians back to the Cross. Having explained the nature and glory and hope of the Ministry of the New Covenant, he commends his urgent appeal, by the model minister he is. Effectively, he says, ‘this is how to do the work, this is the Christ’s model for church growth’, as we make our appeal, 2 Corinthians 5.20, ‘Be reconciled to God.’
“We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed, […]
Last week I encouraged you all in your practice of personal evangelism through the words of seventeenth century pastor-theologian, Wilhelmus a’Brakel. That article can be found here.
One of the blessings of being a Gentle Reformation author is the behind-the-scenes interactions with retired pastor, Rev. Ken G. Smith, who frequently sends us feedback, encouragement, and challenges concerning our writings. If I can speak on behalf of all of the GenRef team, we do love his private interactions with the blog!
Last week, Rev. Smith sent me a personal response to a’Brakel’s encouragement towards evangelism, and with his permission, I am passing those comments on to you, the readers, for your encouragement as well. Ken G. Smith wants us to understand the “why” of why Christians do not evangelize. He writes:
I really appreciated reading your piece on evangelism and the reference to a’Brakel, who at one point in my life was very helpful. I like what he has to say about evangelizing, but have to say I’ve not found his advice effective.
There’s a reason(s) why people don’t bear witness.
Let me share a bit of a different approach.
First, if one is not a fluent “talker” about the gospel, then one needs to assess why […]
Since I received a radio from Weer Bei, I feel like I can see again. Through the daily broadcasts, my spiritual eyes have been opened. I love listening to the Good News on Radio. If Weer Bei was to shut down, I feel like I would go blind again. For this reason I am supporting Weer Bei with the little money I have. Weer Bei enables me to see even though I am blind – Blindman from Nyamlel – Aweil West
“Weer Bei” means “redemption” in the Dinka language. Weer Bei radio broadcasts the good news of redemption in Jesus Christ to the region of Aweil, South Sudan through the voices of local pastors and Christian leaders. Since Weer Bei’s beginning 2009, through the ministries of Cush4Christ, a mission of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and Every Village, the Lord has done great things.
The radio station has the capacity to reach almost two million people who have been supplied emergency radios by international aid organizations in this war-torn land. Vince and Julie Ward moved their family from Canada to the village of Parot, in Aweil, South Sudan in 2006 to see the gospel proclaimed, elders raised up, and churches planted. […]
Time is pressing on in sermon preparation, so on this Saturday afternoon I thought I’d share my morning thoughts.
Perhaps your feeling tired or jaded in the work. Maybe you feel the burden of the responsibility to preach. “Who” you may wonder “is sufficient for these things?”
In 2 Corinthians 1-2 Paul has been wrestling with this question. He clearly had detractors who were running down his credentials. After laying out his defense, in 1.12-2.11, he asserts that his change of plans was neither whimsical or selfish. Instead he delayed his visit to spare pain to God’s flock.
In 2.14-17 he deals with Christian conquest, for Christ has called them, as ministers, to diffuse fragrance around the globe in Christ’s Gospel victory march.
Next in 3.1-3 he shows that in exercising his powerful, successful mission, through God’s means of grace, he needs no other, human, Christian commendation, for results speak for themselves: Corinthian conversion and church planting is proof enough of divine power at work in Paul’s apostolic efforts. The fruit of New Covenant ministry is seen in the regeneration of the ‘living letters’ that Christ, through Gospel ministry, has written on living ‘fleshy’ human hearts
Then, in 3.4-6, he insists that such apostolic boasting […]
This morning as we speak the Caribbean territories and the ‘pan-handle’ state is caught in the grip of a hurricane, which, if predictions are correct, will result in dire need. Back here, in case you are not aware, on the western seaboard of the Atlantic, many public figures have criticized the lethargic, sluggish, response of the UK government – while the French and Dutch had troops positioned in advance to deal with the looming crisis, the ministers in Whitehall were sitting on their hands (at least that is the charge), while their overseas territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, were left in the eye of the storm, for Irma to do its worst.
Paul writes to the Philippians from prison, with the potential of facing death row, to issue a promise that God would supply all their need. Just like any church or group of Christians, the needs of these believers were great. In addition to the normal round of problems that all of God’s children face, Paul catalogued a long list of urgent needs for both Himself and Christ’s flock, for which He was responsible.
Philippian & Pauline Needs
The recipients of the letter of […]