heart.hope.justice: support Sarah

posted in: Arkansas, hearthopejustice | 3

sarah ray

It is so neat to see what the Lord calls your friends to do.  Currently, I have friends telling people about Jesus all over the world, including Nepal where the earthquake just happened, in Baltimore, where the riots are happening, and I have a sweet friend who is about to head to South Africa to love on babies who have no parents.

My friend Sarah, from Little Rock, tells a bit of her story:

“I am thrilled to be headed towards South Africa to serve the Lord with 1Hope Ministries International. After spending almost 10 years as a pediatric nurse in Arkansas, I’m excited for this new challenge of spending my days discipling young women to know and love Jesus Christ. I’ll primarily be working with interns in their late teens/early 20s who come from all over the world to volunteer at the Muphamuzi Baby Home, a home for abandoned babies awaiting “forever families.” I’m currently about $20,000 away from my fundraising goal and working to get my house on the market. As soon as funds are raised and my house it sold, it’s off to Africa for me! Can’t wait!

1Hope: http://1hope4africa.com
My Blog: http://1hope4africa.com
You can purchase a heart.hope.justice print (justice for loving and taking care of orphans) and with each print sold, Sarah gets 10$ toward her remaining funds left to raise.  I’m not going to South Africa anytime soon, but want to help support those who are going.


Platt’s Gospel Bomb at T4G

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I was unable to be at this particular session of T4G, but as I was following it on twitter from SBTS, that was all anyone could talk about.  So, I’m listening to it now, and here are my thoughts:

Sovereignty and missions can go (or should I sayhave to go) together.  Anyone who says (or any denomination that says) that missions and evangelism can’t be mixed with a person who totally believes in the sovereignty of God over all things.  I would say that you can’t biblically do missions if you don’t believe in the sovereignty of God over all things.  I am not saying anything more than that.  Something is amiss if you don’t have an accurate view of God’s sovereignty in all things – and if you are trying to do missions and evangelism without this belief – it is highly difficult to get right.

Local Ministry and Local Mission are Totally Necessary, Global Missions is Tragically Neglected, Pastors have the privilege and responsibility of leading the way in missions – these are his three premises.  The bedrock of all of these things is a FIRM belief in the sovereignty of God.

Revelation 5 – he then reads it.  He really needed no other evidence.  He could have stopped there (as a friend said the morning after Platt spoke).  (Side note: the first time I heard him live in SBTS chapel he quoted Romans 1-10:1 and that was the best chapel, one of the best church corporate gatherings I’ve ever been to – the power of the Word.)

“God holds the destiny of the world in the palm of His hand.”  Who are we to think that we can change the minds of men apart from the work of the Holy Spirit?  Who are we to think that we can do anything to change the eternal life of people without the working of God in their lives?

“We don’t have any rights.”  We have no rights as anything.  God has all the rights as the sovereign God over all things in the universe. 

“God does not NEED us.” – He involves in His sovereign design because He loves us, not because He needs us.

“The state of man before God apart from Christ is utterly hopeless.”  This is taken from Rev 5 but oh so many other places in Scripture.  And I have to say this is one belief I see in relationships with family members and friends and in our presidential nominees. This is the truth folks.  The Bible is the final ANSWER because it is the very words of God.  No one can tell us differently and stand on judgment day.

“The greatest news in all the world is that the slaughtered Lamb of God rules as the Sovereign Lord of all.” – Again, taken from Rev 5.  He is our hope.  He is our goal.  He is our end.

“Teach your people to pray passionately for the nations.”  God hears our prayers and has saved people from every nation in the world. 

“Do you take time in your preaching each year to preach about missions?” – This is for pastors, but can be relevant for all of us.  Pastors – do you preach to us your congregation more than 5 times a year on the mission to the people of the world?  As SBCers we usually preach about missions in December (because of Lottie Moon), around Easter (because of Annie Armstrong), and maybe one or two other mentions (especially if we have a global missions conference or something).  This isn’t enough.  Its not enough to just mention it as an announcement at the end of the service or as a mention in the bulletin that only 2% of your congregation reads.  Do we as Christians talk about very much? 

Strong sermon on missions.  How will it impact us?


Crossway Book Review: Acts by R. C. Sproul

posted in: Books | 2

Crossway is a blessing to me. I love their books!
R. C. Sproul is a faithful, long-time minister of the gospel. He has set a standard in writing and preaching and theology. I was very ready to get his commentary on Acts. I got it in the mail last week, opened it in the car, and was flipping through it at red lights. That definitely tells you it is a good book. The pastoral staff at my church is going through Acts right now so it is perfect timing and I’m also using it for the second quarter of curriculum I’m writing which happens to be on missions.
Things I love about this commentary:
1. Readability.
2. Not just facts (like Greek terms and sentence parsings)
3. Personality of author (Sproul) comes through the pages
4. The cover (and I usually discard the dustjackets right away, not this one)
5. Very easy to navigate (headings, chapters, etc)

Here is a quote, just in time for Chistmas: “The glory of Christ shone through the veil of Jesus’ humanity.” (90)
I’ll definitely be using this for personal use come January when I plow through Acts in my quiet times.
Well done and useful for preaching, teaching, or personal study.

Operation Christmas Child 2010

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I remember when Mom and I used to do Angel Tree from the Lakeland Square Mall. I’ve now not done much of anything in that realm for Christmas for many years, although I would give to other organizations or missions endeavors. This year, I wanted to do an OCC box. So, I did, and delivered it to my local CFA who was giving away free sanctified chicken sandwiches with the drop-off of each box. It was fun shopping for my Girl, 10-14 with my friend, Tina.
I also had the opportunity to take a charter bus trek down to the Queen City and serve at the distribution center for OCC. They do have a well-oiled machine going there. We were given a short tutorial and then put right to work, not to miss much of our 6 hour shift. I got to work alongside friends and packed boxes that were going to Sudan and Malowi (sp?).
Coolest part of the day: Many of you know I’m writing curriculum for churches that will eventually be translated for the nations. So exciting. The first lesson we wrote was on the tower of Babel and one of the games was a Jenga tournament. One of my proofers said that people in other countires may not have Jenga games so I better have a alternate game they could do. Well, I just so happened to open a box and it had a jenga game inside. I was so excited. Right before I passed the box off to the next person, we stopped to pray over these boxes. I rested my two little hands on this one box and prayed for the child who would receive this box and wondered if God would ever allow them to study the story of the Tower of Babel and be able to play the Jenga game. So cool.
Here are some thoughts:
1. We are such a material culture. I thought much about this as I was searching the boxes for “unapproved” items. There were some boxes that were half empty and I thought, man I wouldn’t like to get that box. There were some that were full of school supplies and underwear, again, I would not be happy with that box. It tooks some cool toys, candy, notebooks, etc that made me smile at the box. I’m sure these children that get these boxes will be ecstatic just to get the box.
2. We are greedy. There were some pretty cool toys in some of those boxes. Can I find some of those toys?

If you are packing an OCC box this year (still) or will pack one in the future, please help your packers by remembering these helpful hints:
1. Follow the instructions. They come with every box or you can find them on the internet.
2. Don’t pack chocolate (except Tootsie Rolls, and I haven’t figured out if those are chocolate or not).
3. Any other type of candy is fine – PLEASE SEND IT. But, if you do, please put it in a baggy. That way, when we open it, it won’t go flying everywhere.
4. Don’t put liquids in the boxes. Liquids will be removed. If you want to give them hygiene stuff, send bars of soap, preferably not Irish Springs, wow – those bars are really strong!
5. Don’t put stuff with all English writing on it. Most of these boxes are going to places where the first language is not English. How would you feel if you got a book in Chinese and you don’t speak it and have no way to learn it?
6. Mix up the box some. Add some “helpful, useful” stuff in it (socks, udnerwear, notebooks, pencils, etC) and then also include fun stuff (toys, candy, etc). Wouldn’t you want your Christmas presents to be the same way.
7. Don’t wrap the box in a rubberband. We’ll just take off the rubberband and throw it away.
8. Don’t send your unwanted toys and used items. We’ll take them out. Would you want to get a bunch of dirty, used toys under your Christmas tree, probably not (unless you are a thrift store snob)!
9. Please pack a box. Make it a family mission opportunity. Pray for the children who might receive it. Have your children fill a box for a child the same age as they are. How fun it will be!

Give this season. It is definitely better to give than to receive.

Relevant Magazine on Gluttony

posted in: sin | 2

Oh, everyone’s favorite topic – including mine unfortunately (as I ate way too much on vacation this past week). Relevant Magazine tackles it here
1. “Most people don’t believe eating too much is a crime against anyone or anything.” This is so true. Most pastors don’t preach on it. Most people don’t like to talk about it in their accountability groups. Why is this? Debt is talked about (spending too much money). Alcoholism is talked about (drinking too much beer). But, why not gluttony. I don’t know why that is…it just is and needs to be addressed. Why don’t we think it is a sin? It is. There are plenty of Scriptures that talk about taking care of our body, moderation, idols, etc.
2. “Nearly all religions have sanctions against gluttony, still, data indicate that those who claim to observe organized religion are more likely to be overweight than other Americans.” I am a Southern Baptist, and unfortunately I think we are the worst. We live in the south (most) and we have 5th Sunday dinners, BBQs, Pig Pickins, donuts in SS classes, (we can’t meet without having food). We take our youth to camps that serve camp food (which equals unhealthy for the most part).
3. “If we are truly living a godly life, wouldn’t we be treating our body as a temple and avoiding the burden of body fat?” I am working on a book that will discuss this in further detail (give you something to look forward to). But, isn’t this true? We work on other aspects of our Christian life, but don’t necessarily want to work on this? So much enjoyment – so much hard work.
4. “Christian philosopher Thomas Aquinas equated gluttons to children, since they are governed by pleasure from appetite and their behavior is ruled by it. Gluttony transcends eating and relates to material goods and other physical pleasures. “-Aholic” is the suffix attached to the glutton’s “meal” of choice.” Love this. This wknd, mine would have been dessertaholic. Blamed it on vacation – but when can I take a vacation from obedience?
5. “As our culture evolved, gluttony went from a sin to a badge of honor. Over-consuming meant we were better off (at least monetarily). We’ve become a society that rejoices in over-consumption, yet denounces those who put on weight, get a DUI or gamble away their life savings.” Wow. This was harsh – and true. And this effects how we look at the world and missions too.

Have you even thought about how your over-consumption of food is telling of how you think about the world? Hunger? Needs in impoverished societies? Wow. More to think about than just what is on your plate and in your stomach.


Book Review: Piper's Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ

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One of my favorite types of books are biographies.  John Piper does an excellent job in the Swans Are Not Silent series of combining autobiographical writings, biography, and application.  The 5th book in the series, Filling up the Afflictions of Christ, is no different.He he highlights William Tyndale, John Paton, and Adoniram Judson.  Judson was the one I was most familiar with because I did missions and college ministry at the Summit.  You can’t be at the Summit for any amount of time and not know of Adoniram Judson.  Tyndale and Paton were familiar – but didn’t know their story as much.

Here are some of the key things that I underlined:

I remember Bruce Ashford saying something like this in the first chapel message he preached (as a professor) at SEBTS: “What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ is not that they are deficient in worth, as though they could not sufficiently cover the sins of all who believe.  What is lacking is that the infinitie value of Christ’s afflictions is not known and trusted in the world.” (22)

(Tyndale)  “The key to spiritual achievement is to work hard, and to know and believe and be happy that God’s sovereign grace is the decisive cause of all the good that comes…  That is they both believed in hard work to say things clearly and creatively and compellingly when they spoke for Christ.”  (36-7).  I need to remember this in my writing projects. 

Most memorable John Paton quote: “I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the great day my resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our Risen Redeemer.” (58)

“Often since have I thought that the Lord stripped me thus bare of all these interests, that I might with undistracted mind devote my entire energy to the special work soon to be carved out for me, and of which at this moment neither I nor anyone had ever dreamed.”  (75)  May I live my life with this FOCUS.

How I need this: “(Paton’s Mother to her children) “Oh my children, love your Heavenly Father, tell Him in faith and prayer all your needs, and He will supply your wants so far as it shall be for your good and His glory.” This is what Paton trusted God for in claiming the promises: God would supply all his needs insofar as this would be for Paton’s good and for God’s glory.” (77)

When life is painful (Judson): “As with all events under God’s merficul providence, this painful circumstance had some remarkable positive effects.” (95)

Honestly, when I question, I always say this – because it is my firm foundation – the truth and character of God – whether I agree or understand it or not.  “Adoniram had been sustained with hope and with a spirit deeply submissive to the providence of God.” (99)

A Parent's Prayer

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How do you pray for your kids?  If you are like most Christians in America – you are praying for your kids to get good grades, make good friends, get into good schools with great scholarships, good jobs, good marriages, the American life.  What if you prayed a dangerous prayer like this for your children:

“Heretofore we fears bias you, but no we must tell you why we praise God for the decision to which you have been led.  Your father’s heart was set upon being aminister, but other claims forced him to give it up.  When you were given to them, your father and mother laid you upon the altar, their first-born, to be consecrated, if God saw fit, as a Missionary of the Cross; and it has been their constant prayer that you might be prepared, qualified, and led to this very decision; and we pray with all our heart that the Lord may accept your offering, long spare you, and give you many souls from the Heathen World for your hire.” (John Piper, Filling up the Afflictions of Christ, page 73)

This is a conversation had by John Paton with his parents. John faithful served in the South Seas amongst hardship, disease, death of spouse and child, fearing being eaten alive – every day for decades. 

You never know how God will answer the prayers of a parents.  Make them good ones. 

More on Paton and the rest of the Piper book in the book review soon.