Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Ex-Mayor Says He will Follow Jesus
On the third night of the Nepal Healing Festival, we issued a challenge, “If you have decided to follow Jesus, come up on the platform and testify.” The first person to come to the platform was the ex-mayor of the city. The entire crowd recognized him. He publicly declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins. From now on, I will live for Him.” All the people cheered for the former mayor.
Saved in the Morning, Healed in the Afternoon
On the fourth morning of the Fire Conference, Daniel gave an altar call for salvation. The Fire Conference is supposed to be for pastors and leaders, but we opened it up for the entire city to attend. Since there were many Hindus scattered throughout the church crowd, Daniel felt the need to give them an opportunity to be saved.
He said, “If you want Jesus to forgive your sins, then I invite you to come to the front of the church. If you have never given your life to Jesus, then today is your day.” About twenty people walked forward in response. Daniel asked them to all kneel on the ground and led them in a prayer for salvation.
One of the men who came forward for salvation was crippled. He could not walk without using a cane. Joyfully, he gave his life to Jesus.
Later, in the afternoon festival, the same man came to the platform. Instead of leaning on his cane, he was holding it high in the air. Jesus had healed him!
Nepal is Open to the Gospel
My wife Jessica worked in Nepal as a missionary for six months back in 2001. She says, “When I lived in Katmandu (the capital of Nepal) I could feel deep spiritual oppression every day. Believers were few and persecuted. At that time, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom closed to the Gospel. Daily we prayed that things would change in this beautiful nation.”
Since then, the government has changed hands several times and now for the first time in history, it is possible to publicly proclaim the Gospel in Nepal. The Healing Festival that we are doing in the center of Surkhet is unprecedented.
We have received no opposition, no persecution. Top government officials have given us their stamp of approval. There is great openness to hear about Jesus. Thousands of Hindus have come to the festival and heard about Jesus for the first time. Here in Nepal there are entire villages and people groups that are willing to forsake their Hindu deities and become believers in Jesus.
All the local pastors are telling us that it is a miracle that we are doing a public, open-air presentation of the Gospel in the center of the city, because previously it would never have been allowed.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Hindu Mother Saved
Koussila comes from a Hindu family. She became a believer several years ago and ever since, she has had one prayer. Her one request to God was for her mother to be saved.
When Koussila head about the “Healing Festival” she was very excited. She volunteered to help setting up the festival. For three weeks she worked hard putting all the details of the festival together. Since she speaks English, she was able to translate regularly for Joshua Myers, our festival director.
As Koussila worked putting up posters and inviting people to the festival, she prayed that her mother would be willing to attend. On the first night of the festival, her prayers were answered.
Her mother stood behind the platform as the preaching began. She listened to every word. But, when we led the crowd in the salvation prayer, Koussila’s mother just stood there.
Koussila was helping us translate the miracle testimonies. After the healing testimonies were finished, Koussila left the platform and went to her mother. “Did you pray with the preacher to make Jesus your Lord?” she asked her mother. “No, I have been a Hindu my whole life and I was scared,” came the reply. Koussila began to witness to her mother. She explained the message to her and told her what it means to be a follower of Jesus. After several minutes, she asked her mother, “Would you pray with me and ask Jesus for salvation?” To Koussila’s delight, her mother said, “Yes.” Right there, behind the platform, Koussila led her mother to Jesus.
With tears in her eyes, Koussila brought her mother to us to share the news. Her mother was smiling. She still had a Hindu red dot in the middle of her forehead, but now Jesus was living in her heart.
Every King Must Have a Throne
Many village people have walked a long distance to attend the Healing Festival. Since it is to far for them to return home each evening, we have provided blankets for them to sleep on at night. All the churches and believers of Surkhet have opened their doors to house the villagers.
Today in the Fire Conference, one of the pastors stood up to address a problem. He said, “We have noticed that many of you have been going to the bathroom out in front of the church. We have a toilet inside the church that we want you to use. Since you are from the villages, perhaps you have never seen a toilet before. God has created you to be kings and queens, and as royalty you must not squat in front of the church, instead you must sit on the throne. Please learn how to use the toilet.”
Yes, we have Hot Water.
Before we arrived, our crusade director checked out our hotel rooms to make sure they were comfortable. One of the questions he asked the hotel manager was, “Does this hotel have hot water?” The answer was, “Yes, of course we do.”
To my disappointment, after a long dusty day preaching in the sun, I discovered that only freezing cold water came out of the showerhead. I gritted my teeth and took a cold shower. Sometimes when you are on a mission trip, you have to suffer for the Lord.
The next morning, at 5:30am there was a knock on the door. Blurry eyed, I answered the door. It was the desk clerk. In his hand was a pitcher of steaming hot water. “You want hot water for your shower?” he asked. By mixing hot and cold water in a bucket, I could have warm water to rinse off my body. So, technically the manager did not lie when he said the hotel has hot water, however, I still feel cheated somehow.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
God is Good
On the second night of the Nepal Healing Festival, Daniel King preached about the goodness of God. He told the crowd, “Everything good comes from God. Everything evil comes from Satan.”
Daniel proclaimed, “Sin, sickness, hate, fear, and poverty is from Satan; salvation, healing, love, peace, and prosperity is from Jesus.” The crowd laughed as Daniel tried to pronounce some of the words in the local language.
Then Daniel informed the people that a choice must be made between following God or following the way of sin. He read John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give you abundant life.” He continued with a passage from Deuteronomy, “Today, God sets before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life.” Finally, Daniel explained that Jesus said there is a broad road that leads to destruction, and a narrow way that leads to life.
“Every person must make a choice whether they will follow Jesus or follow the way that leads to death. Do you choose to go to heaven or do you want to spend eternity in hell? If you want to be a follower of Jesus, raise your hand.” Across the field, thousands of people lifted their hands high into the air. Virtually the entire crowd wanted to follow Jesus.
The Story of Pastor Padam
Twenty years ago, Pastor Padam was thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel. For five months he suffered in prison, wondering how his family was going to survive in his absence. Back then, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom and there was great opposition to the Gospel. But, now there is a new democratic government and people are becoming more open to Christianity. For Pastor Padam, it is a great miracle to be able to stand on a public platform and to talk about Jesus in front of the highest government officials. What he was once jailed for, he can now do in the open.
Throughout the town people are saying, “We have never seen anything like this before.” To be able to publicly proclaim, in the middle of the city, that Jesus is Lord is a great miracle. Never before have such large crowds of people gathered in this region to hear the Gospel.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Three days before the Nepal Healing Festival was scheduled to begin, the head of our pastor’s committee received a call from the mayor of the city demanding that he come to his office. When the pastor arrived, it was obvious that the mayor was angry. He said, “All over the city, I see yellow posters advertising your Healing Festival. You have painted the entire city yellow. Who gave you permission to do this?”
Politely, the pastor said, “You gave us permission.” He pulled out a sheet of paper that clearly gave the Christians permission to advertise for the festival. At the bottom of the paper, in blue ink, was the mayor’s own signature. The mayor had forgotten that several weeks previously, he had given his permission.
Embarrassed, the mayor began to apologize. The pastor decided to take a chance and said, “Sir, when the Hindus do a festival, you give them money to help with the expenses and when the Buddhists have a festival, you give them money. As you know, the Christians are also tax payers, will you give us some money to help pay for a Christian Festival?”
In a great gesture of welcome, the mayor of the city decided to donate 20,000 rupees (about $280) to the Christian festival.
Welcomed to the City
Over 4,000 Christians welcomed us to their city with a giant rally and parade. A traditional Nepali band marched at the front and provided marching music. Church choirs sang, dancers worshiped the Lord, shouts of “Halleluiah” rang out, and the line of Christians, four persons wide, stretched for almost a kilometer, from one end of the city to the other.
On the sidelines, Hindus gathered to watch the spectacle. They had no idea there were so many Christians in their country. They were amazed to hear the believers singing Christian words to traditional Nepali tunes.
As the parade arrived at the Festival grounds in the middle of the city, the worship team kicked off the festivities with a fast-paced song of praise to Jesus Christ.
Many top government officials were curious about why we were in their city so they came to see what was happening. We gave them seats of honor on the platform. On the first day of the festival, I sat next to the chief of police, the chief of the armed forces, and the head administrator of the entire district of Surket.
They started to talk among themselves. It was obvious they were confused about something. Finally, the three of them nominated the head administrator to ask a question.
He leaned over and asked, “What is a healing festival? I have never heard of this before.” He had a very perplexed look on his face. As a Hindu in a predominately Hindu nation, he knew little about Christians and their ways.
“A healing festival is when Jesus heals people emotionally, spiritually, and physically. There are many hurting people and Jesus wants to heal them,” we explained.
“Oh, now I understand,” said the official. Instead of a puzzled look, he had a smile on his face. “This healing festival is a very good thing.”
Then, in a final gesture of peace, he leaned over and said, “Merry Christmas.” It was the only Christian phrase he knew but it was his way of saying that he was happy to have Christians minister healing to the people of Surket.
Hindus Healed on the First Day
Our co-evangelist, Dr. Jack Myers preached the first day on the power of the name of Jesus. Thousands of people shouted the name of Jesus, many of them Hindus calling on Jesus for the first time.
In the middle of the sermon, an elderly gentleman to the right of the platform jumped to his feet and lifted his walking cane in the air. He started to shout, “I’m healed. I’m healed.” The entire crowd turned to look at him. He threw his cane to the ground and began lifting his hands over his head. There was a huge smile on his face. After this spontaneous miracle, the preaching was over as God began to touch people across the field.
People streamed forward to give their testimonies. A blind eye was opened. A man with back pain for four years was healed. Then, a Hindu man came to the platform. He explained that he had been deaf in his right ear for five years. As he listened to the sermon, his ear popped open and he was able to hear. We tested his hearing and he was able to hear even the softest whisper. When the crowd saw that he was Hindu, they began to talk, “Jesus is healing even Hindu people.”
At the end of the first day’s service, as people left the field, it was obvious that word about what had happened was going to spread across the city. The whole town was talking about how Jesus was touching the Hindus.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
This week I am teaching on soul winning to 1,200 students at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. In honor of Gordan Lindsay, the founder of CFNI, I am posting a poem he wrote on my blog.
Sunrise and skies are fair
A day begins without a care:
A day for joy, a day for leisure,
A day for thrills, a day for pleasure.
Youth is merry, youth is gay;
The great Grim Reaper is far away.
But there is a call, ‘tis the Master’s voice:
“I need you today; may I be your choice?
A harvest is waiting and fields are white,
Will you join the reapers in the morning bright?
Awake, O youth to the heavenly vision:
Multitudes - multitudes in the valley of decision.”
Morning sun high above the earth;
A cry of distress in the midst of mirth.
Heathen are born and heathen die;
Is there none to hear their cry?
“Oh yes,” said the youth, “count me as one,
To help in the harvest till the day is done.”
(Yet he lingered on for a little more fun.)
High sun and high noon;
“You’ll be hearing me soon.
I’ve married a wife; I’ve property to see,
Five yoke of oxen acquired by me.
I’ll soon heed the call and join the band
Ready to give the reapers a hand.”
(But he tarried on; he’d a bargain in land.)
Afternoon sun and afternoon light,
The golden orb hastened its flight.
Conscience still heard; memory daunted.
Wealth he’d acquired, yet more was wanted.
(Many were the possessions he proudly
House and barns, lands and farms,
Streams and ponds, stocks and bonds,
Chickens and hogs, forest and logs,
Sheep and cows, thoroughbred sows,
Crops and flax, meadows and haystacks,
Orchards and cherries, vineyards and berries.
Day was waxing and day was waning,
Still the rich man was entertaining.
For a sinister voice had spoken and said,
“On with the fun; on with the dance;
Make merry while you have a chance.
You’re a man of the times - ten feet tall.”
To conscience he said, “Time yet for the call.”
So a little more folly, and a little more fun.
(And the hours slipped away until there were none.)
Sun rise to sun fall;
The day was wasting on the western wall.
Hands still busy with a thousand things,
As evening descends and curfew rings.
The day has faded into twilight red,
As multitudes hastened to join the dead.
“I am ready; I am ready,” said the man at last.
But shaking hands could not hold fast.
Hair unnoticed had turned to gray,
Still he thought it was yesterday.
Alas, harvest past, it was too late to save.
Those who had gone to a Christless grave.
Where is the silver, where is the gold?
Where are the possessions to another sold?
Where are the sheep that grazed on the hill?
Where are the cattle that drank from the rill?
Where are the barns that were filled with plenty?
Where are the thoroughbreds, one hundred and twenty?
Where are the heirlooms, where are the treasures?
Where is the laughter; where are the pleasures?
Where are the parties; where is the wine?
Where are the delicacies and the dinners so fine?
Sun sunk low and night descending,
Summer gone, and the harvest is ending.
Oh, for a chance for time extended.
(A wasted life was never intended.)
Sun fall and moon rise
What is left of the rich man’s prize?
Go out through the valley to yonder hill,
And see the marble standing still
Treasures offered in heaven; but he took instead
The cold reward of the unsaved dead.
And what of us who live today?
This is our hour; let us not stay.
A call to harvest till it shall end.
Work now, work fast, reap, my friend.
New dawn and sun rise,
To the faithful, the Master will give the Prize.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
2. The Harvest is BIG. “The Harvest is plentiful...” (Matthew 9:37).
3. The Harvest needs LABORERS. “The Laborers are few...” (Matthew 9:37).
4. The Harvest requires our PRAYERS. “Pray...for laborers...” (Matthew 9:37).
5. The Harvest belongs to GOD. “The Lord of the Harvest...” (Matthew 9:38).
6. The Harvest is EVERYWHERE. “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields...” (John 4:35).
7. The Harvest numbers in the MILLIONS. “Swing the sickle for the harvest is ripe...Multitudes, Multitudes in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:13-14).
8. The Harvest needs us to become INVOLVED. “Jesus called his disciples and gave them authority...” (Matthew 10:1).
We are Soul Winners! Our goal is to lead 1,000,000 people to Jesus every year. Thank you for caring about the harvest. Your financial support and prayers are what allow us to work diligently in the harvest fields of the world. Thank you for helping us reach people for Jesus.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
My friend Greg Ford recently pointed me towards five websites that offer free design work, videos, and countdowns for churches. Check them out:
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
By Daniel King
It was a boring day at Hell’s check-in desk. Only a teenage drunk driver and a Hindu guru had checked in so far. It was not like yesterday when a suicide bomber and his victims arrived. Then the flames had been roaring and a full contingent of demons had been present to drag everyone to the torture chambers. But, for now, the flames smoldered in the darkness and reflected off the brass, maggot eaten nameplate sitting on the desk. Just barely, the name could be seen. William Zane Bub.
The red-faced, deformed demon looked up from his desk and wiped the sweat from his forehead. What was the annoying sound that was disturbing his rest?
“Ring,” blasted the sharp, piercing noise of the antique telephone sitting next to his elbow. Lethargically, he stretched out his claw and grabbed the handset.
In a tired, rebellious voice, he began to sing the jingle management forced him to recite when answering the phone, “Hell, Hell, Hell, Hello. We’re looking foreword to seeing you below. Hell, hell, hell, hello, where the flames are bright and time goes slow...” He decided not to sing the other ninety-four poorly written verses of the hotel’s theme song.
“What can I do you for,” he coughed, “I mean, what can I do for you?”
“My name is John Smith. I want...”
“My enemies call me Bill,” the demon interrupted, “hold for a second, let me find you in the computer.” Bill tapped on his keyboard only to find that the computer had performed an illegal function and had gone into semi-permanent hyphenation. “Stupid computer demons,” he muttered to himself, “those bugs they programmed into this operating system are purely diabolical.”
Finally, John Smith’s info came flickered into life on the screen. Bill took a moment to look over the profile then he spoke into the telephone, “John, I have you right here, it says you were born July 9, 1978, is that correct?”
“Yes,” said John with relief in his voice. The rock music playing while he was on hold was ear splittingly loud and badly out of tune.
“Right, I have your reservation right here. It looks like you made this reservation the first time you lied to your mom when you were three years old.”
“Uhh...I guess so.”
“We have you scheduled to be in the Mausoleum Suite.”
“I don’t want that room.”
Bill chuckled to himself. Here was an opportunity to use the worst of his puns. “You know, people are dying to get in there. Don’t laugh, this is a grave matter. I’m dead serious. Do you know why funerals are so sad? It because six of your best friends let you down,” He waited for the groans but when only silence ensued, he continued, “but on a lighter note, I could put you in the Crypt Chamber.”
“I’m not coming...” John began to explain.
“Nonsense, of course you’re coming. Everyone comes. As a matter of fact, you’re scheduled to be with us sometime next year. I’m sending Agent Death to pick you up real soon. You’ll be able to recognize him, he’s the one with the big sickle. Ha, ha.”
“You are not listening to me, I do not want to come,” John reiterated forcefully.
“Very common response, but you really have no choice, besides, the worms are ready to eat.”
“I’m not going to eat worms” John exclaimed!
“No, of course not sir, the worms eat you. Ha, ha! By the way, do you like rare, medium, or well done...actually, there’s not really an option. We keep the flames so hot that everyone is well-done.”
John was not getting through to Bill. “I am not coming to Hell Hotel.”
“But, you’ve already paid a high price for this reservation.
Bill tapped away at the keyboard for a moment, “So far, your reservation in hell has cost you your health, your wealth, and according to a note here, for your next installment on your payment plan, it will cost you your marriage.”
“I had no idea it was costing me so much.”
Bill gloated, “Well, sir, we try to give you a foretaste of hell, by giving you a little hell on earth.”
“I want a full refund,” John angrily demanded.
“We don’t give refunds, your investment in this reservation is non-refundable.”
“I want more than a refund, I want a seven-fold return.”
Bill paused for a moment. Where had John heard about that clause? It was hidden in the smallest of the small print at the bottom of the contract. Few knew they could demand a seven-fold return on Hell’s prices. Perhaps it was a fluke, he would be careful. “What are you talking about?”
John took a breath and started to explain, ‘Last week, one of my business associates invited me to go to church with him.”
Bill began to squirm, “You didn’t go, did you?”
“I did go, just to be polite.
“The people were friendly, the music was nice, and the sermon was interesting.”
Bill breathed a sigh of relief, it sounded like the hundreds of churches where nothing ever really happened on a typical Sunday.
Then he caught his breath as John continued. “After the sermon, the preacher started talking about sin and salvation. I thought about all the wrong things I’ve done and when he asked if anyone wanted to give their lives to God, I raised my hand.”
Furiously Bill said, “You what?”
“I got saved.”
“I’m going to heaven when I die.”
“You can’t...I mean, why...Why are you calling me?”
Bill Z. Bub cringed as he listened to John yell, “Because, I’M CANCELING MY RESERVATION IN HELL!”
Friday, August 13, 2010
The pig said, “Oink, oink, hold on just a second, I’m not sure I want to give some bacon. If we make breakfast for the farmer, both of you will give a contribution, but I will have to make a sacrifice.”
Are you making a contribution to God, or are you willing to make a sacrifice? I encourage you to “Be a Pig for Jesus.”
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believth in him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life” (John 3:16). God loves the entire world. God loves you. God believes you are a beautiful person and He wants you to have eternal life. Will you accept God’s love?
2. God does not know anyone who has not sinned.
The Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Everyone has messed up. Sin is when we decide to do things our own way instead of God’s way. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). There is a price that must be paid for our sin. The price of sin is death. Jesus Christ paid this price by dying on the cross for our sins. God gave His Son as a gift so we could have eternal life. Do you want eternal life?
3. God does not know any way to get to heaven except through Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The only way to get to God is through Jesus. The Bible promises, “That if you confess with you mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). You have sinned. Your sin separates you from God. Jesus died to pay the price for your sin. If you make Jesus the Lord of your Life, God will give you eternal life.
Would you like to make Jesus the Lord of your life? If so, pray this prayer right now. “Dear God in heaven, I am sorry for sinning. Please forgive me. I make Jesus Christ the Lord of my Life. Thank-you for giving me eternal life. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Saturday, July 17, 2010
One of our close ministry friends recently wrote a book that I think every family that wants to protect their children should read. Here is some information about the book:
June 2010 - Tulsa, Oklahoma – Kalyn is the oldest daughter in the robust Cherry tribe of twelve. A pastor’s kid, Kalyn was active in church, a straight-A student and very loving to her parents and siblings…seemingly the perfect child. So how, at the age of 14, did she become involved with a man in their church three times her age? An $800 cell phone bill was the tip of the iceberg as the Cherry’s research for truth brought them face to face with a nightmare that had grown even under their watchful eyes. Overnight their daughter turned from a sweet, loving contributor to the family to a rebellious, suicidal, angry teen.
Kalyn’s Secret: Every Parent’s Battle to Save Their Children is a more than a compelling story of overcoming victory. The Cherry’s transparently reveal both sides of the nightmare as readers get to look into the parental “dark night of the soul” as well as the confused heart of the teen/not yet adult mindset and subsequent irrational behavior. In search of professional help, counselors misdiagnosed the problem for the first two years. Finally, the Cherry’s found a miraculous ray of hope that set them on a course of healing. In Kalyn’s Secret they share:
The warning signs they missed.
What they should have done different.
Why parents cannot reason with their teen as a rational adult.
The disturbing similarities between drug and alcohol addictions, eating disorders, sexual predators and perversion stalking today’s kids.
Most importantly, the vital keys every parent needs to avoid the camouflaged pitfalls our children face each day.
This is a story of hope. Parents will benefit from the Cherry’s extensive research revealing tools and insights for those who find themselves already in the battle and those desperately working to avoid it.
The Cherry’s five-year battle for restoration of their daughter’s mind and heart will encourage every parent who finds themselves in “every parent’s battle to save their children.”
Retail: $15.99 trade paper
“As a Dad and as a Husband – I want to do everything I can to protect my family. This book offers great insight to help prevent physical and spiritual attack from outside influences and is an incredible resource to help those already in the battle. It is a message of hope for all parents.”
Michael W. Smith
“A must read for parents.”
Director, Teen Mania
Click HERE to get your copy of the book: http://www.amazon.com/Kalyns-Secret-Lisa-Cherry/dp/0881445290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279431796&sr=8-1
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The Two Trees
By Daniel King
In Bihar, India there stands a tree called the Bodi Guya tree. Tradition claims that under this tree Buddha was enlightened after many days of meditation.
At the Mount of Olives in Israel, in the garden of Gethsemane, there stands an olive tree. Tradition claims that on the night he was betrayed, Jesus sat under this tree and cried out to God his Father.
I have seen both trees. I found that both of these great men struggled with the same problem while sitting under their respective trees. Both Buddha and Jesus suffered and confronted the problem of suffering, but they offered two different solutions
Suffering is a universal problem. In these modern times, one only has to watch the news for a few moments to discover horrible suffering somewhere in the world. A fire burns down a house. Famine causes starvation. War kills the innocent. Disease ravages bodies. The wealth of one stands in sharp contrast to the poverty of another. Children go to bed hungry. In many places, there is no hope, no dignity, no self-worth, and no future for humanity.
Buddha was deeply impacted by the suffering he saw four thousand years ago. Buddha was born as a prince and raised in protected luxury until one day he saw a poor leper. This confrontation with reality shook him and he began searching for a solution to the problems of this world.
In India, where Buddha walked there is an air of oppression throughout the society. Their fatalistic and pessimistic worldview promotes the idea of karma (works), reincarnation, and the caste system. Millions suffer their entire lives. Few believe that life can be better.
Under his tree, Buddha discovered the four noble truths of Buddhism. The first truth was “Life is Dukkha” (suffering). As he wondered around India as a monk, he saw the horrible plight of the beggars, experienced the depths of human poverty, and questioned old age, death, and the afterlife. Under that tree, he reached a conclusion, all of life is full of dukkah, nothing but suffering.
The second noble truth Buddha articulated is that “This suffering is because of our desire.” What desire? The desire to have a hot meal, a place to sleep, clothes to wear, sanitation, health care, education, to have someone who loves you and whom you can love, a better life for one’s children, the desire to live life to the fullest. When we want something and don’t get it, we start to suffer.
The third truth of Buddha’s enlightenment is that “When desire is eliminated, suffering is eliminated.” If you want nothing, you will not be disappointed when you do not get it.
Buddha’s fourth truth revealed the “Eight-Fold Path” to removing desire from your life. This led to the Buddhist philosophy of renunciation that has been practiced throughout the ages. Buddhist monks give up all their possessions, shave their heads, and live extremely ascetic lifestyles. They meditate for years attempting to achieve enlightenment, a place of nothingness; no desire, no thoughts, hopefully no suffering.
Under his tree, Jesus dwelt with suffering in a different way. According to Christianity, in the beginning of time, there was no suffering. God created the first man and woman and put them in a beautiful garden. But, one day in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. This act of disobedience is called sin. Sin is what causes suffering.
When sin entered the world, sickness, hate, fear, and everything else that breeds suffering entered along with it. The Bible says “The wages of sin is death.” Every person who sins deserves to suffer and to die. The Bible says, “All have sinned.” Every person on earth has disobeyed God; we have lied, cheated, coveted, murdered, and disobeyed God’s commands. Thus, all humans suffer because of sin.
Jesus was God’s answer to the problem of suffering. Jesus, the Son of God, was born two thousands years ago in the city of Bethlehem. When Jesus walked the dusty streets of Israel, he too saw suffering. He experienced the depths of grief and pain. He cried. But his response was one of compassion.
When Jesus saw a man who was crippled for thirty-eight years, Jesus healed him by saying, “Take up your bed and walk.” When Jesus found a dead twelve-year-old girl, he brought her back to life. When a blind man approached Jesus, He restored his sight. When five thousand men plus woman and children were hungry, Jesus multiplied five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed the entire crowd. Jesus performed many miracles to set people free from their suffering.
But, Jesus wanted to permanently cure suffering. The only way to accomplish this was for Him, as a perfect, sinless, Son of God, to suffer and die in place of humanity.
This is why Jesus laid in agony beneath his tree. His purpose for coming to earth was to set mankind free from suffering, but in order to triumph, he knew he must face the ultimate pain. He knew he would be flogged with a whip, spat upon, deserted by his friends, nailed to a cross, and left to die in shame. He cried out to God, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” He begged God to take the cup of suffering from his lips, yet because it was the only way to secure salvation for mankind, Jesus took the cup and drank deeply. Why? Because of his compassion.
Jesus died on a cross so we could be free from sin. He was whipped so we could be free from sickness. Jesus could have avoided suffering, but instead he chose to suffer so that we might be free from suffering.
Buddha dwelt with suffering by trying to deny its existence. Jesus dwelt with suffering by embracing it. When Jesus saw human suffering, He was moved with compassion, and performed miracles to relieve the suffering.
When Buddha saw human suffering, he decided that suffering is caused by desire, and the only way to avoid suffering is to avoid desire. Jesus came, not to set us free from desire, but to fulfill all our desires. Jesus said, “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.”
Jesus did not reveal four noble truths, Jesus only revealed Himself. Jesus said, “I am...the Truth...anyone who comes to the Father must go through me.”
Today, Jesus still confronts suffering with compassion. Anyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be set free from suffering and live eternally in heaven, a place better than nirvana. The Bible says, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
According to the Bible, in the Garden of Eden, there were two trees. The first was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the second was the Tree of Life. The first tree represents human knowledge and human effort, and the second represents the God kind of life. Buddha sits beneath the first tree, he developed the greatest human system in history for dealing with pain. Jesus sits beneath the second tree, he simply offers eternal life to all who come to him.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
The picture that many people have of God is one of a judge. They imagine God as an old man with a long white beard sitting in heaven waiting for the opportunity to smite someone with a bolt of lightening for doing something wrong.
The people in Jesus’ time knew God as Holy, as a Judge, as the Almighty. Because of their religious ideas, they were scared of God. But then, Jesus revealed a new side of God that no one had ever seen before.
“Our Father, which art in heaven…” was how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Do you know how revolutionary this phrase was?
Let’s look at the well-known story about the Prodigal Son. In this story, Jesus revealed a new facet of God’s character.
Once upon a time, there was a rich man who had two sons. The younger son went to his father and asked for his inheritance. This was unusual because usually a son would not receive his inheritance until after his father was dead. This son was basically saying, “Dad, I wish you were already dead.” In the Middle Eastern culture where honor is important, this story is immediately shocking. The listeners knew that the father would be justified in being extremely angry over such a deep insult.
But, the father was not offended. Instead he divided up his property and gave half of everything to the younger son as his inheritance.
Immediately the younger son packed his luggage and traveled to a far away country. He started to spend his money. Every night he would go out drinking and dancing. He bought drinks for everyone at the party. He wasted his money on gambling and drinking and wasteful living.
Suddenly, his money ran out. He had nothing. His friends left him.
He took the only job he could find, feeding pigs. He slept where the pigs slept. He ate the same garbage the pigs ate because he was starving. Any Jew listening to this story would have been horrified at such a terrible fate since Jews think pigs are unclean animals.
Suddenly the son had a good idea. He remembered that even the lowliest servants at his father’s home were eating and living much better than he was. He decided to go to his father and say, “Father, I have sinned against you. I am no longer worthy to be your son, to be in your family. I beg you, please allow me to be your servant and wash your clothes and clean your house.”
He started the long journey home. Slowly, he trudged through the dirt. He kept rehearsing in his mind, over and over again, the punishment his father would give him.
But, the father saw his son from afar off. What does this mean? The father was out looking for his son every day. He was eagerly waiting for him, longing for the day his youngest son would return. The moment the father saw his son coming from afar, he ran to him.
It is amazing that the father ran as fast as he could to meet his son. In that part of the world, an elderly man does not run, he walks in a slow and dignified manner. But, this love-struck father took the initiative to run towards his son.
The prodigal son fell at his father’s feet and began his preplanned speech to beg for mercy. The father totally ignored his son’s words, he lifted him to his feet, and began to hug him and kiss him.
The father calls his servants. “Bring my best Armani suit. Find my crocodile leather shoes. Bring my son’s favorite food. Put my Rolex on his wrist. Put a diamond ring on his finger.”
The father dressed his son in the finest clothes. Then he told the servants, “We are going to celebrate tonight. Let’s butcher our best calf. Bake some apple pie, that’s my son’s favorite. Hire some musicians, we are going to celebrate. Go invite all our friends to come.”
As the father continued to excitedly give instructions about the party, the one thing he could not stop doing was hugging and kissing his long lost son.
What was Jesus doing in this story? He was introducing God as the Father of hugs and kisses. No longer would God be a judge, now God is seen as a loving Father.
For Father’s Day, let’s remember what this story teaches us about our heavenly Father!
The Father’s Attitude
1. The Father sees the son from afar. No matter how far away from God we are, He still looks for us with merciful eyes.
2. The Father was moved with compassion. No matter what mistake you have made, God still loves you.
3. The Father came out to meet the Prodigal son. When we repent, God meets us where we are.
4. The Father hugged and kissed him. God welcomes us with open arms.
5. The Father put his best clothes on him. God takes our old dirty clothes and gives us robes of righteousness.
6. The Father put a ring on his finger. God restored the authority that has been lost.
7. The Father put shoes on his feet. God entrusts us to go preach the Gospel.
8. The Father restores his joy. Let us eat and be merry. The Christian life is full of joy.
Monday, May 24, 2010
As an evangelist, I have two roles. My first role is to tell people about Jesus, to preach the Gospel, to be a soul winner. But my second role as an evangelist is just as important.
In addition to evangelizing the lost, I am also called to equip believers for evangelism. According to Ephesians 4:11, the five-fold ministry gifts are given for “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry.” In my blog today I want to give you an idea on how your local church members can be involved in reaching out to your community.
This past Saturday I participated in a local church outreach in Glenpool, OK with First Grace Church. The church is small, about one hundred members. Glenpool is a city of 12,000 people so the church feels it does not have the resources to do an outreach to the entire city, but they chose a particular neighborhood of about 150 home to focus on.
The church rented Jupiter Jumps and a popcorn machine, someone donated hotdogs, they invited a clown to make balloons, and they did face painting. They also did a drawing for a $300 pre-paid visa card in order to attract adults. The church members spread out into the community and invited people to come for a free hotdog. Of the 70 people who came around 25 people got saved! On Sunday morning, 8 people from the community came to church. At least two new families will start attending the church. For a church of this size, this was a very successful evangelistic outreach.
Below you can watch a video to see what happened.
Every church should give their congregation opportunities to reach out to those who are lost. Not every member of your church is called to be an evangelist, but every member of your church can be involved in evangelism. By scheduling regular outreaches your church members can have an outlet for their ministry gifts. Whether they participate by cooking hotdogs, knocking on doors, playing music, or just hugging people, every person in the church, from the young to the old, can help win the lost to Christ.
I want to hear from you. What is your church doing to reach out to the lost? What methods have you found to be effective for evangelism? Is there a needy community near your church that you could adopt?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
How are you using your words? Are you using your words to attack people or to build God’s kingdom. Words are important because they can be used for either good or for harm.
I am harvest focused. My passion is for souls. But recently, I was attacked on the blog of a self-appointed church watchdog. With his words, the blogger assailed me. He tore my ministry down. He questioned my integrity, my motives, my theology. The worst part of the assault was his misuse of Scripture to beat me up.
He used his words and God’s word as a sharp sword to cut me to pieces. After I finished reading his four thousand-word diatribe, I felt like a flayed fish, cut to pieces and laid out on a sizzling frying pan to cook. I am a big boy, I can handle the criticism, but my story illustrates an important point.
All too often, some people in the church use their words to cut others down, to attack, to injure, to hurt, to curse their brothers and sisters. In a misguided passion for truth, they even use God’s Word as a dangerous weapon to put down other believers.
The Word of God is like a sword. But it is designed to be used to attack Satan, not your brothers. Christians need to stop stabbing other Christians in the back and use their weapon for its proper purpose.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Jesus bent down into the dirt, picked the ear up, and miraculously reattached it. All too often, preachers have wounded and maimed people with their insensitive, sword-wielding way of preaching of the word of God. When preachers use their words as swords, they metaphorically cut off the ears of the people they are attacking. With their spiritual ears cut off, these people become unable to hear what the Spirit is saying.
This is what happened to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Right before he was stoned, Stephen accused them of being stubborn and uncircumcised in both heart and ears (Acts 7:51). The Pharisees and Sadducees had so much political infighting that their spiritual ears were deafened and they failed to recognize the Messiah they were waiting for.
While churches are busy attacking other churches and denominations, there is a world full of people who are going to hell. Dying humanity is crying out for help. Will the church hear their plea?
The prophet Micah prophesized that in the last days nations would beat their swords into plowshares (Micah 4:3). What was once used for war would be turned into a tool for bringing in the harvest. It is time to beat our swords into plowshares. Rather then using God’s word as a weapon for attacking others, we should use our words to encourage others to go after the harvest.
Jesus is coming soon. We need to make every second count for God. I believe the greatest harvest of souls in history will happen in the next few years. More people will be saved in the next decade then were saved in the first two thousand years of church history.
But, in order for this great harvest of souls to take place, we must stop using our words to attack each other. Instead, we must use our words to encourage one another to go after the harvest. Our words can be used either as a weapon of war or as a tool for bringing in a harvest of souls.
How will you use your words?
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
I actually bought a ticket to the conference months ago. I was fully planning to go. But then, the original date for our Ethiopian crusade had to be changed. Because of the political situation in Ethiopia, this was the only week it would work for our crusade to take place.
I had a choice to make. I asked myself, “Should I stay in Tulsa so I can hob-nob with key ministry leaders, or should I travel to the middle of nowhere to preach to poor tribal people?” I decided to go to Africa.
Crusades are for sinners. Conferences are for believers. Far too often Christians are so busy talking to each other that they forget to talk to those who most need to hear. I decided my time was better spent throwing a net into the sea instead of hanging out in on the dock with other fishermen trading yarns. As Reinhard Bonnke says, “The church is not a pleasure ship; it is a life boat and every hand is needed on deck for soul winning.”
I like going to conferences, but my main mission is to go to those who have never heard the Gospel. As an evangelist, my primary calling is to reach the lost. I may miss a big conference, but at least I won’t miss a mighty harvest of souls.
For years, I have proudly called myself a Charismatic Christian without being completely sure what the term “Charismatic” means. One day my curiosity was peaked and as I began researching, I was pleasantly surprised by the rich meaning of the word. Traditionally, the distinctives of the Charismatic faith include experiencing the infilling of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, believing in healing, and preaching the word of faith. What are some other implications of our name?
1. Charismatics are gifted.
The nine gifts of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-9 are often called charismas which is a Greek word which means “gifts.” The term “charismatic” was coined in the early nineteen sixties to refer to the branch of Christianity that believes in the gifts of the Spirit. Of course, as one professor at Oral Roberts University pointed out, “Those who believe in the Spirit-filled life are not a branch of Christianity, we’re the roots.”
2. Charismatics are leaders.
When a political leader has “charisma,” it means he has a leadership quality that is charming and appealing. In the same way, Charismatics are leaders in the body of Christ and have an undefinable glow which attracts the lost like a light draws bugs on a dark night.
3. Charismatics are graced.
The root in the Greek language for the word “charisma” is charis which is most commonly translated as “grace.” It is defined as “undeserved merit and favor.” So Charismatics are those who are smiled upon by God even when we do not deserve it. We literally walk in the grace of God.
4. Charismatics are joyful.
The Greek word for “joy” is chara, which comes from the word charis. Our joy is not based on a human experience that gives brief pleasure, rather our joy is obtained from the Lord and sticks with us in the midst of both the good times and the bad.
5. Charismatics are healers.
1 Corinthians 12:9 specifically mentions the charismas of healing or “gifts” of healing. As Charismatics, we use God’s power to heal people: spirit, mind, and body.
6. Charismatics are givers.
The term “charismatic” refers to a gifted one, but it could equally allude to to one who gives gifts. In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul mentions the grace (charis) of giving ten times when urging the church in Corinth to send an offering to the saints in Jerusalem. In other words, the word “Charismatic” could be translated “Givermatic,” defined as people who give automatically and cheerfully. Whenever the offering bucket passes, we are excited about giving.
7. Charismatics are blessed.
A final meaning of the word “charis” is blessing. So, Charismatics are “Blessed-o-matics,” those who are automatically walk in the fullness of God’s blessing.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Friendship is one of the greatest gifts God gives us. Everyone needs a friend. Life without a friend is boring and meaningless. Everyone needs someone that they can sing with, cry with, and dream with! Aristotle once said, “Nobody would wish to live without friends, even if he possessed all other good things.”
Friendship is the basic form of human relationships, but it has been sadly neglected. Ask yourself these questions. Do you have any good friends? How many friends have you made recently, people whose company you really enjoy? Are you always ready to make a new friend?
The best way to have a friend is to be a friend. Clay Trumbull asserts, “Friendship by its very nature consists in loving, rather than being loved. In other words, friendship consists in being a friend, not in having a friend; in giving one’s affection unselfishly and unswervingly to another, not in being the object of another’s affection, or in reciprocating such an affection.”
Since God is the best friend a person could ever have, we should model our friendships on how God treats us. He is ever-loving, patient, and kind. He listens to us far more than he talks. He never stabs anyone in the back with negative words. No matter how many steps we walk away from Him, it is only one step back. God loves us, not because we are lovable, but because He is loving. Jesus told his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). Do not wait for someone to choose you as a friend, instead, find a lonely person and become their friend.
A perfect example of true friendship is found in the Biblical account about David and Jonathan. They first met each other right after David had killed Goliath. Jonathan was the king’s oldest son, he was the heir-apparent who was loved by the people. Suddenly, the young, upstart David appears and the people’s devotion is transferred to him. Jonathan has the right to be angry, jealous, and resentful of David’s success. Instead, Jonathan unselfishly recognizes David as someone noble and special. He takes David to heart and they become covenant friends. In the midst of trouble, when Saul wants to kill David, Jonathan remains his friend. Even when the crowds begin shouting for David to become king, Jonathan remains devoted to him. No wonder, David said that the friendship was “passing the love of women.” Few things in life are greater than a true friend.
Here are some keys to being a good friend. Be sincere. Be honest. Keep secrets. Sympathize with your friends in times of hardship, and rejoice with them in their accomplishments. Be willing to invest time, energy, and money in your relationships. Go the extra mile. Be courteous. Avoid careless words that can damage a friendship. Dream together, play together, cry together, and celebrate together. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).
Friendship requires an investment of time, energy, and emotion. If you help others at their point of need, they will be available to help you when you need something. Being a friend is like having a bank account, you can not continue to make withdrawals, unless you also make deposits. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Dale Carnegie, in his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, offered six principles for making people like you. First, become genuinely interested in other people. Second, smile! Third, remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language, so remember the names of those you meet. Fourth, be a good listener by encouraging others to talk about themselves. Fifth, talk about other people’s interests, not about your own. Finally, make other people feel important - and do it sincerely.
Never, ever, ever marry someone who is not your friend. Physical attraction and romantic ideals are great for a honeymoon, but a good marriage is based on friendship. As Lord Byron said, “Friendship may, and often does, grow into love, but love never subsides into friendship.”
Choose your friends wisely. You will become like the people you hang out with. You will pick up their habits, say their pet words, and echo their opinions. I can tell what kind of person you are by looking at the friends you spend time with.
Friendship should be for life. A fair-weather friend is hardly worth having. Why make friends with someone who will leave at the first hint of trouble? Seek friendships that will last.
Just as “iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Find friends who will challenge you to greatness. Find someone who excels in an area where you are weak, so you will be strengthened by associating with them. I believe one should have many friends, but I think that a man will be able to count his great friendships on only one hand. George Washington advised, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of low growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”
“There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). This friend is Jesus, the only one who will never turn from you. Whenever you feel you are friendless, run to Jesus, because he will forever be your friend. When Jesus came to earth, He did not pick the high and mighty to be his friends. Instead, he called himself “the friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34). He does not care what you have done, where you have been, or why you have sinned. He will not judge you, he will accept you just the way you are. No matter what happens, you will always have a friend in Jesus, who promised, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). My prayer is that you will follow in the footsteps of Abraham who was called the “Friend of God” (James 2:23).
May we all be able to say, as Shakespeare said, “I am wealthy in my friends!”