Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Best Missions Message I've Ever Heard

Last night in the third night of the missions conference at Tri-state Baptist Temple of South Point, Ohio, Dr. Clayton Shumpert preached the greatest missions message I have ever heard. His text was Isaiah 53. He preached a simple yet powerful message on everything that Christ did for us and everything that Christ is to us. The premise of the message was this: "If you know Him, you will love Him; and if you love Him, you will serve Him." There was no arm-twisting or guilt-tripping in the message. He preached on Christ being the Sent One, the Suffering One, the Sin-bearing One, the Silent One (he opened not his mouth), and the Satisfying One (He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied...). He made a statement that was profound. "Any missionary who has surrendered to go to a mission field had to first come to a point where he truly appreciated all that Christ had done for him." Why are there so few surrendering to go? Perhaps it is because so many Christians today feel like they deserve what Christ did for them. And if we feel that way, there will be no true gratitude to the Lord for all that He did for us on the Cross. When we truly come to the point where we realize that without Christ we have no hope, I believe we will begin to serve Him in sincerity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Moon-like are You?

It's interesting to me that in Genesis 1, the moon is called a light. Skeptics have tried to use this to discredit the Bible by saying ridiculous things like, "Ha! See, the writer didn't even know that the moon is merely a reflector of the sun, not a light in and of itself!" Obviously, God was referring to the function of the moon as the means of giving off light at night; He was not going into scientific detail about how the light is produced. God was referring to the fact that He made the moon to be a light in the darkness. The moon was made to reflect the light of the sun.

"Ye are the light of the world..." In the same way that the moon has absolutely no power to give off light apart from the sun, we cannot give off the light of the Gospel apart from the Son. 2 Corinthians 4:6 reads, "But God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts..." We are not the source of the light; we are merely reflectors of the light that has shined in our hearts. Isn't it interesting that in both instances, something that is not a light in and of itself is called a light by God? The moon was made to give off the sun's light to penetrate physical darkness; we as Christians were made to give off the Son's light to penetrate spiritual darkness.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Challenge in Cambodia

Stephen Benefield, the missionary with whom we will be working when we get to Cambodia, emailed me the top three questions that Cambodians ask him when he is soul winning. These three questions give us a glimpse of the formidable spiritual challenges that await us in Cambodia.

1. Do you give people a salary? This is referencing the fact that many Cambodians are not nearly as interested in receiving spiritual help as they are immediate financial help. This is understandable. These people do not know the Lord. They live in extreme poverty. It is natural for them to focus on the immediate, tangible need for money and other material goods. Please pray that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we might know how to help them look beyond their physical destitution and see their dire spiritual condition and their need for Christ.

2. If I become a Christian, can I still go to the wat? "Wat" is the Khmer word for temple, and in this context it is specifically referring to a Buddhist temple. This question helps us understand that many Cambodians are willing to add Jesus to their godshelf, but not many are willing to turn from their idols to serve the true and living God.

3. Is it true that when a person becomes a Christian they have to abandon their parents? This is perhaps the greatest spiritual challenge that faces missionaries in Cambodia. When Jesus said that He brought not peace, but a sword, this is exactly what He was referring to. Many Cambodians who have turned to Christ have done so knowing that such a decision would bring persecution and ostracism from their families. In the Cambodian mindset, to turn from the parents' traditions is to turn from the parents themselves. Pray that Cambodians who are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit for salvation will have the courage and spiritual strength to turn to Christ regardless of the threats of family, and that they will be living testimonies of God's grace in the sight of their families.