Archive for February, 2009

Books For Africa – Emmanuel Community Centre

Posted in Emmanuel Community Center Kenya, Luke Tamu, Uncategorized with tags , , on February 24, 2009 by gospel2live

Books For Africa has put up the project donation page for Pastor Luke Tamu and the Emmanuel Community Center orphanage and theological college.  As I posted before, we have the opportunity to send books with a street value worth nearly half a million dollars to Kenya for just $9,500 to cover the shipping.

If you would like to learn more, or are interested in donating to this project, you can go directly to the project page here.

We are also still interested in theological resources for the training of pastors.  If you, or a pastor you know, is willing to part with commentaries, biographies, systematic theology books, or other reference books, please get in touch with me to see how we might be able to include these resources in the container that is being shipped this summer.

Please pray for this project, and consider contributing to making this shipment happen soon!

UPDATE — February 10, 2011:

This project was completed in the summer of 2010.  However, recent information from teams that have visited Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers have revealed that this ministry is NOT one that we will continue to partner with.  We pray that the books will end up in hands that are blessed by having them; however, it is apparent that they will not be used by Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers as we were originally told.  Feel free to contact me via email if you are considering partnering with Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers, for more information before joining in any of their “ministries.”


Penn Jillette on Evangelism

Posted in evangelism with tags , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2009 by gospel2live

…I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward … how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that …

I found this quote particularly fascinating.  It gives a completely different perspective to that which we would expect to hear from an atheist, but it is a wonderfully logical way of thinking.  So many unbelievers just want the Christian to shut up and leave them alone.  Too many Christians do exactly that.  As a result, we see little, if any, evangelistic efforts in our day.  

But what if we REALLY believed the Gospel?  Isn’t it our Biblical belief that judgment day is coming towards our unbelieving world like a run-away truck?  Do we really believe that those who do not come to Jesus by faith are objects of wrath who will spend eternity in conscious torment in the fires of hell?  Do we really believe that forgiveness and adoption as sons are made possible through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross?  Do we really believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that we now have the blessed hope of eternity in the presence of God?

If we really believe these things, why aren’t we willing to “tackle” unbelievers?  Penn would.  

I understand that not every unbeliever shares Penn’s respect for the evangelist.  However, the power of the evangelist rests not in his eloquence, his methods, or even his persistence.  The power of the evangelist rests in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the message of the Gospel.  We do not need to make ourselves obnoxious, or argue people into the kingdom.  However, we need to be consistently and continually proclaiming the good news that Jesus lived the life we should have lived, died the death we deserved to die – as our substitute to satisfy God’s righteous anger – and rose again to bring us the hope of eternal life.

 How can we remain silent with such great news?

Forfeiting Evangelism

Posted in Christian relationships with tags , , , , , , on February 7, 2009 by gospel2live

The following is a quote from Mark Dever’s message on Evangelism and the Church for the 2009 Desiring God Conference for Pastors:

We want to lead our congregations to evangelize congregationally.  What I’m saying is, the corporate witness of our churches, will make our evangelism either easier or harder — depending on whether that witness is a help, or a hindrance.  If your church, is all about making sure everybody who was ever a member is still a member, keeping this group together at all costs, then you are forfeiting your witness to the Gospel in the community.  If your church is all about glorifying Christ, seeing his Spirit work and mold and break and convict and edify and change us, as individuals and as a community, friends, then Satan’s knees are shaking!  That’s exactly what God built the church to do.

This particular comment struck me hard.  It seems that many of our churches fall prey to this temptation to keep peace at any and all costs.  We handle sin with kid gloves and maintain facades as we interact with others from the church.  Often, this may lead to double lives.  We put on our happy face and act real holy at church, but our lives away from church reflect all the values of the world and are barren and dry spiritually.

While I have seen this condition in churches before, I am not sure I had thought about it as a forfeit of our Gospel witness.  However, it makes perfect sense.  Unity at all costs will inevitably lead to hypocrisy and hypocrisy is the bane of evangelism.  Our unbelieving friends and family see through the happy-face charades that we play, and it sickens them — as it should sicken us!  When we pretend to be holy on Sunday, but our lives are not transparent, authentic, and transformed daily, we fail to show the power of the Gospel and make evangelism difficult, if not impossible.

On the other hand, if we are willing to live humbly, confessing our own sin, earnestly pursuing the glory of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, then our lives will be a fragrant aroma to those whom God is calling to salvation.  While self-righteous, religious pride is toxic to evangelism, authentic and honest relationships that are causing us to sharpen one another and grow in our conformity to Jesus will be strangely attractive to unbelievers.  As a result, our attempts to proclaim the Gospel will have a much more powerful effect.

However, authentic and honest relationships will ultimately lead to a certain amount of conflict.  As a result, people who LIKE their religious pride and sense of superiority will not react well to even the most loving confrontation  over their sin.  As a result, people who are not serious about having their own sin dealt with will often be driven away — much like the rich young ruler.  When Jesus forced him to choose between becoming a disciple and his material possessions, we found out that he really worshipped his stuff, not Jesus.

In response, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you really know and believe the Gospel?  

Is the Gospel something you know in your head, but do not rejoice over in your heart?

Does your church value the glory of Christ and his cross more than it values peace among the membership?  

I would challenge you to think this through prayerfully, asking the Spirit to reveal His truth to you, and to discern whether your practice is consistent with your theology.  If there is a gap in your practice, either individually or corporately, repent and turn to Jesus.  Cultivate an environment where the glory of Christ is more important than your own comfort, and you may find that your church will begin to be competitive for lost souls, instead of forfeiting them to the enemy.

Tithing Your Pastor

Posted in missions with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2009 by gospel2live

Dr. Michael Oh delivered the missions address at the 2009 Desiring God Conference for Pastors.  I highly recommend that you listen or watch this presentation which took the approach “Missions as Fasting.”  You can link to it here.

One of the application points that I found challenging was for pastor’s to “tithe yourself to missions.”  Because the American church is so blessed with resources that are unprecedented in world history, Dr. Oh challenged us to give up some of our own comforts to help the cause of reaching the unreached people groups around the world.  This could mean taking five years out of a lifetime to spend on the mission field.  Another alternative would be to spend one month per year teaching and training other pastors at seminaries in remote parts of the world.

While there is still a desperate need for a more consistent and correct gospel witness in the West, the vast majority of our missions spending is used to support works that take place in largely Christianized cultures.  One can argue that Europe should not count as “Christian,” but the point is that less than 3% of all mission spending is used in areas of the world that have NEVER had a gospel witness.

I would challenge you to listen to Dr. Oh’s message and ponder how you and your church can become better supporters of reaching unreached people for Christ.  Also, consider whether you can do more to give financially, in prayer, and with your own time towards seeing the glory of Christ made known to the uttermost parts of the earth.  Consider whether you should help “tithe your pastor” to the cause of Jesus Christ in the coming year.

Leaders in the Making

Posted in Christian relationships with tags , , , on February 3, 2009 by gospel2live

It is a great privilege to be attending the Desiring God Conference for Pastors in Minneapolis.  This year, in addition to the blessing of attending the conference, I have the double blessing of attending with a couple of emerging lay leaders from my home church.  The conference topic is on evangelism and the role of the pastor and church in reaching those who are perishing.

Attending a conference like this with lay men who desire to grow in God is a tremendous opportunity.  It has given us an opportunity to spend time listening to very challenging speakers, but even more importantly, time to digest and discuss what we are learning throughout the day.  Some pastors simply need to get away and be minstered to.  However, for those who have the opportunity to bring key current and future leaders with to such an event, they will find a level of life on life discipleship that is very hard to duplicate.   I am very grateful to the men who came along that they were willing to take the time and make the commitment to attend.

I would encourage pastors and church leaders to multiply the impact of conferences by attending them as teams and taking the time to work through the implications of the teaching for your particular local church!