Monday, July 28, 2014

The Definition of Faith…(Numbers 9:23)

The word "faith" is only truly expressed when it become "faithfulness". To say you have "faith" is evidenced by actions. James knew it when he said, "You say you have faith?... Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith from my works." Furthermore, he says, "You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe…" (James 2:18-19)

Faith is a great thing. Or should I say faith is a "grace" thing. It really is a gift from God that we give back to Him and is evidenced by how we choose to live our lives - for Him or apart from Him.

In the Old Testament in the book of Numbers, while the people of Israel are being formed into a nation in the crucible of the wilderness wanderings, we find a simple yet poignant definition of faith…

"They camped at the Lord's command, and they set out at the Lord's command. They carried out the Lord's requirement according to His command through Moses." (Numbers 9:23)

The people inhabiting Canaan and the surrounding countries must have watched with awe as this mass of humanity seemingly wandered aimlessly closer and closer to their lands. They had evidently heard of what God had done - the parting of the seas, the defeat of Pharaoh's army, the provisions of food and water. They saw the massive army of 600,000 plus men, all armed for battle. And they watched them move for a day, camp for one day or maybe one month, and then set out again. This would go on for forty years - seemingly random, wasted movements.

But it was not random and it was not wasteful. It was faith in action - faithfulness.

They camped when God said "camp". They set out when God said "move". The carried out the Lord's command whatever He asked of them.

Faith - expressed in faithfulness.

We would do well to do the same...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The First Three Laws of Holiness…

"The Lord spoke to Moses: 'Speak to the entire Israelite community and tell them: Be holy because I, Yahweh your God, am holy.' Each of you is to respect his mother and father. you are to keep My Sabbaths; I am Yaweh you God. Do not turn to idols or make cast images of gods for yourselves; I am Yahweh your God." (Leviticus 19:1-4)

This whole chapter is an interesting passage. It has to deal with God's laws regarding holiness. There is much to the chapter but I want to look at the first three things that He says He requires from His holy, set apart people…

1. Respect your parents. It is the first commandment with a promise (e.g. so that you will live long in the land). And it somehow plays prominently in what God desires for His holy people to look like. Those who respect, care for and obey their parents.

2. Keep God's Sabbaths. Note that He calls them "His" Sabbaths. They are not ours (although we greatly and wonderfully benefit from His Sabbaths). We keep them and keep them holy because they are His and He has commanded us to.

3. Have no idols and make no cast images for yourselves. In other words, we are to have no thing, no possession, no position, no "toy" to come between us and our total love and devotion to God.

Here's the thought I had. When we think of "holiness" today, we think of piety, of righting living. We think of personal holiness and devotion. I, errantly, think of mystically sitting in the woods and just spending time with God. While all these things are not bad, I am struck that God's idea of holiness has more to do with positive actions and practical implications in our relationship with Him and with others.

Respect your parents…Keep God's Sabbaths…Don't let anything come between you and God…

Kind of redefines holiness in our current age, doesn't it? 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Abundant Life has a Face...

(I received this story from a BGR field partner and thought I would share it with you)

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Mr. G, aged about 45 years, is a married man with two school going children aged 12 yrs and 9 yrs. He belongs to a Hindu family but recently he has adopted a Christian life. He stays in a house provided by his farm owner where he worked as a watchman.

Mr. G was dependent on alcohol and spent all his earnings on drinking. His wife worked as a coolie (e.g. hauling of heavy loads) to support her family financially. He lost his job. He was socially boycotted due to his erratic violent behaviour and abusive language. 


An alcohol awareness program was being held in his village. He was encouraged by his wife and neighbours to attend the de-addiction camp and he agreed to do so.  The de-addiction camp was organized by Bangalore Baptist Hospital (BBH).

Mr. G turned over a new leaf after the camp. He completely gave up his drinking. He and his family were given regular counselling and encouragement by the BBH field staff.

Gradually he started concentrating on his work and the money was spent on his family. His physical appearance and behavior changed. His co-villagers his new, positive attitude. It has been more than a year since Mr. G stopped drinking.

The pastor/counselor visited his home regularly and, over a period of time, shared the love of Chrsit with him and his wife. They both committed their life to Jesus and he is now a transformed man.

He requested support to improve his economic. BBH and their outreach program helped him obtain a cow. He bought it on a loan and paying back the principle. He has imrpoved his family income and livelihood through this cow project and regularly remits the money advanced to him in weekly installments back to BBH. He is also a change agent to other alcoholics in his village and refers several of them to the de-addiction camps.


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Jesus said, "I come that they might have life and have it more abundantly".

Isn't it great that we serve a God who cares about all aspects of our lives? I know Mr. G thinks so! 

Amen!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Jayne's Story…Gone Home

In April, I wrote a blog about Jayne and told you about her and her battle with HIV/AIDS. We had delivered a BGR "hospice" bucket to her and her family and she smiled as our BGR COO Rick Funderburk showed her the contents and explained what they were. She also shared her testimony about knowing Christ as her Lord and Savior when she was asked if she knew who Jesus was. 

We got word last week that Jayne has gone home to be with the Lord. Pastor Patrick sent this note…

"Hallo Her Name Was Jane Wanjiru She Has Let Two Chidren The Who Have Join The  Form One And Three Old Girl Who Are Now With Glandmother . We working out how can assist the family we visit them this afternoon."

I remember Jayne's smile at the kindness of those who prepared the bucket for her. I remember the big smile as she shared how she could bear anything because she knew Jesus. 

Her name was Jayne Wanjiru. She has gone home now.

Please pray for her mother and her two children left behind. Please pray for Pastor Patrick and his ministry as he helps Jayne's family and hundreds of others like her in that community.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Her Name Means "Flower"...

The other day, we visited Manang (Mrs.) Bulac. Her name means "flower" in English. She is 90 years old and lives in the Philippines on the island of Bohol. She is a widow who has a hard time getting around especially up and down the wooden steps to her small house.

She's survived many years, seen many joys and hardships as well. A few months ago, she survived the strong earthquake which shook her island. But her house didn't do as well.

Ninety years old, a widow with no one to provide for her and in need of a home. 

We visited just in time to see the local carpenters putting the finishing touch on a small but new, sturdy and accessible home. It had a cement floor and no stairs to climb. It was sturdy and cool with part cement, part plywood walls. 

Mrs. "Flower" had tears in her eyes as she said, "Thank you so much for my new home." And we were there. We were there to tell her that people on the other side of the world cared enough to help her have a new home. We told her that people cared enough to come and help her build that home as well. And we told her that the true provider of the home and the true provider of all things good is God the Father. 

We had a short prayer of thanksgiving and dedication for her home and then got in the van to visit some other project sites. We told her that we would tell the people in the USA who gave for her to have a new home, "thank you" for her.

Her name is Mrs. Flower and she wants you to know that she says "thank you" for blessing her life.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Fruit of His Labors...

Let me introduce you to my friend, a pastor named Patrick. He works in the slums of a large city in sub-Saharan Africa. He works with the poorest of the poor and as you can guess, he doesn't receive much in terms of compensation for his church work outside of the love and gratitude of his congregation. But that doesn't stop Patrick from preaching and ministering to those in need.

Patrick grows vegetables and raises chickens. The food and income generated from his projects help him to feed and support his family as well as be a blessing to those he ministers to. Patrick is a preacher who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. He uses those hands to hold a Bible and share about God as well as teach others how to make a living from vegetable gardening and small animal raising.



Patrick is one of those unique individuals that loves God, loves people and loves working with his hands. And he is one of those unique individuals that cares about people - spiritually and physically. I have had the privilege of walking alongside Patrick and seeing how he has a passion for the souls of those in his community and a compassion for their physical needs - hunger, poverty, HIV/AIDS.

Patrick reminds me of Jesus who went about doing good (Acts 10:38) and how He went all over Galilee, "teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people." (Matthew 4:23)

Patrick is a talented farmer and a loving pastor. He is truly a man who enjoys the fruits of his labor...


Monday, April 21, 2014

Seven Words that Changed the World...

This past weekend, we celebrated Easter. On Friday, we celebrated the death of Christ (called Black Friday by some) and traditionally, the Christian faith remembers the seven last sayings of Jesus from the cross. These sayings reveal His humanity, divinity as well as his purpose for eternity.

While most of us are somewhat familiar with the the seven last sayings of Christ, we often overlook the seven words that were spoken on Easter which changed the world forever…

"He is not here; He is risen!"

The women who went to the tomb saw angels inside…

The two disciples who ran to the tomb (Peter and John) saw grave clothes…

When we go to the tomb, we see nothing because…

"He is not here; He is risen!"

That's why we sing…

"I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today.
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer.
And just the time I need Him, He's always near!
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me, along life's narrow way.
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!"

Selah!