Encouraging One Another in the Lord!

by Joanna Bogunjoko “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11–12 (image: CWe spent the end of the year with Joel, some SIM US recruiting team members, and over 10,000 students at Urbana 2018)

Thank you for lifting us up continuously in your prayers and for your support in our global ministry in partnership with you. We are grateful you have stood with us in all our travel to conferences and to visit and encourage our colleagues ministry. We thank God for His protection. We do not take our safety for granted!

We were reminded of this again when we heard of the crash of the Ethiopian Airline six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa to Kenya. We have been on the same type of aircraft with Ethiopian Airline in both December and January. Please pray comfort and peace for the families of all 157 people who lost their lives on the ill-fated flight.

We had asked for your prayers as we gathered with our new global and regional leaders in Nov and Dec in Kenya. THANK YOU for praying. It was a time of learning together, listening to God together, and getting to know one another. The most significant outcome for us personally was our leaders’ commitment to live and to lead based on leadership values rooted in Scripture. Pray that we will live up to the standard of godliness, righteousness, purity and servanthood that we set for ourselves before the Lord.

With the generous gift from a couple who have been our friends and cheerleaders, we were able to spend five days of rest in Ethiopia. What a privilege to visit historic sites, churches cut into rock that date back hundreds of years, and ancient sites such as Axum. It was our best 25th wedding anniversary gift, and we are truly grateful for their generosity.

In Kenya to meet with our colleagues and other Africans who lead international missions

In Kenya to meet with our colleagues and other Africans who lead international missions

We returned to Kenya to meet with our colleagues—other Africans who lead international missions. This was an opportunity to encourage one another, pray together and hear from the Word. We shared glimpses of what we are learning in our roles and issues we are facing, in order to learn from one another. The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree. He then also invited us (Joshua and Joanna) to plant a tree to commemorate our 25th anniversary. When you are at BTL in Ruiru, Kenya, you may find an avocado tree with our picture next to it.

The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree

The manager of BTL Christian International Conference Centre where we met invited each leader to plant a memorial tree

We spent the end of the year with Joel, some SIM US recruiting team members, and over 10,000 students at Urbana 2018. At the SIM exhibition booth, we answered questions and prayed with many students seeking guidance about God’s calling into His mission. Please pray for these students. The journey is daunting for many, but they are trusting the Lord, and we are too.

Highlights of Our 2019 Trips So Far
We were in South Africa for Evangel Fellowship meetings in January. This is a gathering of leaders of churches that have come out of the work of SIM in many countries. Over 14 years of bi-annual Evangel meetings, Joshua felt this was one of the best in terms of the quality of discussions. Many churches face significant challenges; they realize their need for one another more than ever. Please pray for church leaders in contexts that increasingly challenge many things the church stands for theologically.

We were also blessed to spend time with the SIM team in Burkina Faso. This team is really feeling the impact of increasing terrorist activities in that part of West Africa. They are now almost totally confined to the capital city and many Christians feel increasing unease in rural areas. Please pray for courage amidst these countrywide security risks.

Our time in Mali was amazing. This is a country where Al-Qaida in the Maghreb has done great damage over the years, yet it was a most refreshing visit for us. How encouraging to see the small SIM team engaged in an unbelievable number of ministries. Two church plants are underway in a rural area outside the capital, as well as children’s feeding program. They have also completed research into a potential outreach among the Moors, Fulani, Soninke, Shonghai, and the deaf—all people who are unreached in Mali. Three families from Ethiopia and a single man from North East India are starting French language studies in Bamako, with plans to serve with SIM among the Fulani in Niger, Mali and Guinea. How encouraging! Please pray we will be able to come alongside them in this amazing vision of seeing a witness for Christ among people who have never heard of Him.

Time with our SIM Guinea team was encouraging. It was great to be back in Guinea after about eight years and to see this team growing. How refreshing to spend time with about 50 university students in Guinea. Many have lots of questions about their future, a desire to serve Jesus, and a willingness to be creative and not depend on government. But they asked, “Who can help us think through these challenges and help us sort out life?” They know that many African migrants have paid the ultimate price in the Mediterranean Sea, and they do not want to follow those steps. At the same time, the present state of things in their country is bleak. They asked, “What is the church’s answer?” After three hours together, we cannot say we had answers to all their questions, but we are grateful for the opportunity to spend time and learn together.

Collaborating mission CEOs in Thailand

Collaborating mission CEOs in Thailand

After a quick three days meeting with the International Directors of some of SIM’s collaborating mission agencies, we went on to Germany for SIM Board of Governors. We remain truly grateful for the godly people on our board. Joshua feels blessed to serve under the guidance of people who are totally sold to Jesus and are only concerned about God’s Kingdom and the Good News of the love of Jesus among the nations.

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us. We are truly grateful for their kindness and hospitality.

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us

Joshua spoke at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, the first weekend of March where Genn and Margie Betts generously hosted us

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area.

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area

We also reunited with long-time friends and colleagues Don and Jenny Townsend from Galmi, Niger, and Allen and Marge Peltier from Egbe, Nigeria, as well as other SIM missionaries in the area

Last weekend, we were in Columbia, South Carolina, during the Missions Emphasis Month at First Northeast Baptist Church. Joshua preached during the service on Sunday. Praise God for these opportunities and for the privilege of sharing with God’s church what we are learning from His Word, from His work, and about His mission in His world.

Please pray for Joshua’s speaking at the Rock Hill Bible Fellowship Church this Sunday, March 24. Late Sunday afternoon, we fly to the UK to join a Mission Leadership course. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to learn as we serve.

From there, we go to the Ukraine where Joshua will speak at the mission conference of the Volyn Region Baptist Association. Next we will visit the SIM offices in France and Switzerland, then join Joshua’s Executive Team for a retreat in the UK. In April, we will speak in Greece to a group of SIM workers from limited access locations. From there we continue to Canada for Prairie College Board meeting. We will conclude our five-week trip with another church mission weekend in Ontario.

Thank you for praying for all these trips and speaking engagements. We could not undertake any of these if we did not know that you are standing with us in prayer. No one would try without a solid backing of God’s people who pray, at least we will not.

Praise and prayer:

  • Give praise to God for restoring our children to good health and for continuing to uphold them.
  • Pray for sustaining grace for Jochebed at work and for Joel in school.
  • Jochebed is considering a job change. Please pray for the Lord’s leading and open door

A Special Opportunity
We are most grateful to each one of you who support us sacrificially out of what the Lord has blessed you. We know many of you give from the little that you have, and Joanna and I feel most unworthy of your generosity. However, a supporter who is concerned about our shortfall is making a generous offer. For those who have not received his email:

“Thank you so much for being fellow supporters of Joshua and Joanna. I’m writing in an effort to get them fully funded.

Frankly, I’m of mixed mind on whether it’s a good idea for the International Director to be required to raise his own support. However, given that that is how SIM works, it seems to me that it is extremely unfortunate to have a situation in which individual missionaries are expected to raise full support while the International Director is himself substantially under-funded. It would be even more unfortunate, in my opinion, if Joshua were to spend a disproportionate amount of his time raising a relatively small amount of money for his and Joanna’s support, rather than spending that time on issues of much larger import to SIM and the Kingdom at large.

As a result, when Joshua was at our house recently, I told him that my wife and I would match dollar-for-dollar any contributions that others make toward eliminating his $50,000+ deficit for this year.

If you’re able to help with the $25k match, please contact Joshua with your pledge or donation. For example, if five families each provide $5,000, we’re there. (I certainly don’t need to know who’s pledging how much, but only the total which I need to match.)

Thank you so much for your past support and for your consideration of this request.

In Christ,
T.

To date, $9,500 have been given or pledged. Please let us know if you are interested in participating.

Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko

Joshua & Joanna Bogunjoko

Joanna Bogunjoko is the SIM’s Special Assistant to the International Director and Archives Assistant under the umbrella of SIM International Leadership and Services. She have served at three mission hospitals in West Africa and became full members of SIM in 2001.

 



Living the Christian Life

by All About Following Jesus | What does the Bible say about how to live the Christian life? AllAboutGOD.com | Contact us here.

How to live the Christian life is a topic that is discussed in many Bible passages. One of the most notable discourses was between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish council, went to Jesus during the night to discover how to live the Christian life. Jesus explains to Nicodemus that he must be born again: “…I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Salvation is the beginning step in living a Christian life. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus encourages all believers to grow in relationship, commitment, and obedience to Him. This is the essence of how to live a Christian life. Our relationship, commitment, and obedience are done out of love, not constraint. John 14:21 says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Living the Christian life is not abiding by an agenda or following a set of strict rules. Instead, the Christian life is characterized by:

  • Understanding that you are a new creation! 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
  • Transforming and renewing your mind. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
  • Treating others with love. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
  • Living out the teachings of Christ. Jesus taught: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3-10).
  • Sharing your faith. Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Living the Christian life does not mean enjoying a life of ease and never experiencing problems. 1 Peter 5:8 says that there is an enemy who wishes to destroy us: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” But we also read that Jesus has overcome the world!

No matter what opposition you face, living the Christian life is worth it! Enjoying a relationship with God and His Son Jesus, being confident of where you will spend eternity, and living in day-to-day fellowship with Him is far greater than any opposition you may face.

All About Following Jesus,

We live in an awesome era! We’ve peered to the edge of the massive cosmos.
We’ve delved into the intricate world of the microscopic cell.
We’ve discovered archaeological treasures that establish the veracity of biblical events.
We’ve deciphered the digital code of the human genome.
We’ve established the reliability of ancient biblical manuscripts.
We’ve developed principles of quantum physics that allow for an extra-dimensional Creator.
We’ve witnessed the actual fulfillment of biblical prophecy in Israel.
We’ve watched the rapid deployment of space-age communication technologies that can provide access and exposure to all of these realities.

 

Yes, we live in an awesome era!
We’ve witnessed phenomenal events and collected compelling evidence that all point to something outside ourselves. We’ve seen evidence of God like no other period in the last 2,000 years. What a time to wake up, pursue life, seek truth, and share our journeys with others!

This information is offered by AllAboutGOD.com, which is structured as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. If you would like to support our efforts, you can make a tax-deductible contribution here. Thanks!

 

AllAboutGOD.com
PO Box 507
Peyton, Colorado 80831
AllAboutGOD.com | Contact us here.



Is Jesus Relevant Today?

JesusOnline Ministries | Jesus offers life with real meaning. He said that life is much more than making money, having fun, being successful, and then ending up in a graveyard. Yet, many people still try to find meaning in fame and success, even the greatest superstars.

Many think that Jesus Christ wants us to become religious. They think Jesus came to take all the fun out of life, and give us impossible rules to live by. They are willing to call him a great leader from the past, but say he is not relevant to their lives today.

Josh McDowell was a college student who thought Jesus was just another religious leader who set up impossible rules to live by. He thought Jesus was totally irrelevant to his life.

Then one day at a student union lunch table McDowell sat next to a vibrant young coed with a radiant smile. Intrigued, he asked her why she was so happy. Her immediate reply was“Jesus Christ!” 

Jesus Christ? McDowell bristled, firing back:

“Oh, for God’s sake, don’t give me that garbage. I’m fed up with religion; I’m fed up with the church; I’m fed up with the Bible. Don’t give me that garbage about religion.”

But the unfazed young coed calmly informed him,

“Mister, I didn’t say religion, I said Jesus Christ.”

McDowell was stunned. He had never considered Jesus more than a religious figure, and didn’t want any part of religious hypocrisy. Yet here was this joyful Christian woman talking about Jesus as someone who had brought meaning to her life.

Christ claimed to answer all the deep questions about our existence. At one time or another, we all question what life is all about. Have you ever gazed up at the stars on a pitch-black evening and wondered who put them there? Or have you ever seen a sunset and thought about life’s biggest questions:

  • “Who am I?”
  • “Why am I here?”
  • “Where am I going after I die?”

Although other philosophers and religious leaders have offered their answers to the meaning of life, only Jesus Christ proved his credentials by rising from the dead. Skeptics like McDowell who originally scoffed at Jesus’ resurrection (see http://y-jesus.com/wwrj/6-jesus-rise-dead), have discovered that there is compelling evidence that it really occurred.

Jesus offers life with real meaning. He said that life is much more than making money, having fun, being successful, and then ending up in a graveyard. Yet, many people still try to find meaning in fame and success, even the greatest superstars.

Madonna attempted to answer the question of, “Why am I here?” by becoming a diva, confessing, “There were many years when I thought fame, fortune, and public approval would bring me happiness. But one day you wake up and realize they don’t..I still felt something was missing..I wanted to know the meaning of true and lasting happiness and how I could go about finding it.[1]

Others have given up on finding meaning. Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the Seattle grunge band Nirvana, despaired of life at age 27 and committed suicide. Jazz-age cartoonist Ralph Barton also found life to be meaningless, leaving the following suicide note: “I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, and from house to house, visited countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up 24 hours of the day.[2]

Pascal, the great French philosopher believed this inner void we all experience can only be filled by God. He states, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which only Jesus Christ can fill.”[3] If Pascal is right, then we would expect Jesus to not only answer the question of our identity and meaning in this life, but also to give us hope for life after we die.

Can there be meaning, without God? Not according to atheist Bertrand Russell, who wrote, “Unless you assume a god, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”[4] Russell resigned himself to ultimately “rot” in the grave. In his book, Why I am not a Christian, Russell dismissed everything Jesus said about life’s meaning, including his promise of eternal life.

But if Jesus actually defeated death as eyewitnesses claim, (see http://y-jesus.com/wwrj/6-jesus-rise-dead) then he alone would be able to tell us what life is all about, and answer, “Where am I going?” In order to understand how Jesus’ words, life, and death can establish our identities, give us meaning in life, and provide hope for the future, we need to understand what he said about God, about us, and about himself.

What Did Jesus Say About God?

God Is Relational

Many think of God more as a force than a person who we can know and enjoy. The God of whom Jesus spoke is not like the impersonal Force in Star Wars, whose goodness is measured in voltage. Neither is He some great unsympathetic bogeyman in the sky, delighting in making our lives miserable.

On the contrary, God is relational like us, but even more so. He thinks, He hears. He communicates in language we can understand. Jesus told us and showed us what God is like. According to Jesus, God knows each of us intimately and personally, and thinks about us continually.

God Is Loving

And Jesus told us that God is loving. Jesus demonstrated God’s love wherever he went, as he healed the sick and reached out to the hurting and poor.

God’s love is radically different from ours in that it is not based upon attraction or performance. It is totally sacrificial and unselfish. Jesus compared God’s love with the love of a perfect father. A good father wants the best for his children, sacrifices for them, and provides for them. But in their best interests, he also disciplines them.

Jesus illustrates God’s heart of love with a story about a rebellious son who rejected his father’s advice about life and what is important. Arrogant and self-willed, the son wanted to quit working and “live it up.” Rather than waiting until his father was ready to give him his inheritance, he began insisting that his father give it to him early.

In Jesus’ story, the father granted his son’s request. But things went bad for the son. After squandering his money on self-indulgence, the rebellious son had to go to work on a pig farm. Soon he was so hungry even the pig food looked good. Despondent and not sure his father would accept him back, he packed his bag and headed home.

Jesus tells us that not only did his father welcome him home, but he actually ran out to meet him. And then the father went totally radical with his love and threw a huge party celebrating his son’s return.

It is interesting that even though the father greatly loved his son, he didn’t chase after him. He let the son he loved feel pain and suffer the consequences of his rebellious choice. In a similar way, the Scriptures teach that God’s love will never compromise what is best for us. It will allow us to suffer the consequences of our own wrong choices.

Jesus also taught that God will never compromise His character. Character is who we are down deep. It is our essence from which all our thoughts and actions stem. So what is God like—down deep?

God Is Holy

Throughout the Scriptures (nearly 600 times), God is spoken of as “holy.” Holy means that God’s character is morally pure and perfect in every way. Unblemished. This means that He never entertains a thought that is impure or inconsistent with His moral excellence.

Furthermore, God’s holiness means that He cannot be in the presence of evil. Since evil is the opposite of His nature, He hates it. It’s like pollution to Him.

But if God is holy and abhors evil, why didn’t He make our character like His? Why are there child molesters, murderers, rapists, and perverts? And why do we struggle so with our own moral choices? That brings us to the next part of our quest for meaning. What did Jesus say about us?

What Did Jesus Say About Us?

Made For A Relationship With God

If you were to read through the New Testament you would discover that Jesus continually spoke of our immense value to God, telling us that God created us to be His children.

Irish U2 rock star Bono remarked in an interview, “It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people….”[5] In other words, before the universe was created, God planned to adopt us into His family. Not only that, but He has planned an incredible inheritance that is ours for the taking. Like the father’s heart in Jesus’ story, God wants to lavish on us an inheritance of unimaginable blessing and royal privilege. In His eyes, we are special.

Freedom To Choose

In the movie, Stepford Wives, weak, lying, greedy and murderous men have engineered submissive, obedient robots to replace their liberated wives who they considered threats. Although the men supposedly love their wives, they replaced them with toys in order to force their obedience.

God could have made us like that — robotic people (iPeople) hardwired to love and obey him, programming worship into us like a screensaver. But then our compulsory love would be meaningless. God wanted us to love Him freely. In real relationships, we want someone to love us for who we are, not out of compulsion — we’d prefer a soul mate over a mail-order bride. Søren Kierkegaard summarized the dilemma in this story.

Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power … and yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels … she would surely not resist—no one dared resist him. But would she love him? She would say she loved him of course, but would she truly?[6]

You see the problem. Less poetically put: How do you break up with an all-knowing boyfriend? (“It’s just not working out between us, but I guess you already knew that.”) But to make freely exchanged love possible, God created human beings with a unique capacity: free will.

Rebellion Against God’s Moral Laws

C.S. Lewis reasoned that even though we are internally programmed with a desire to know God, we rebel against it from the moment we are born.[7] Lewis also began to examine his own motives, which led him to the discovery that he instinctively knew right from wrong.

Lewis wondered where this sense of right and wrong came from. We all experience this sense of right and wrong when we read of Hitler killing six million Jews, or a hero sacrificing his or her life for someone. We instinctively know it is wrong to lie and cheat. This recognition that we are programmed with an inner moral law led the former atheist to the conclusion there must be a moral “Lawgiver.

Indeed, according to both Jesus and the Scriptures, God has given us a moral law to obey. And not only have we turned our backs on a relationship with Him, we also have broken these moral laws that God established. Most of us know some of The Ten Commandments:

“Don’t lie, steal, murder, commit adultery,” etc. Jesus summarized them by saying we should love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. Sin, therefore, is not only the wrong that we do in breaking the law, but also our failure to do what is right.

God made the universe with laws that govern everything in it. They are inviolable and unchangeable. When Einstein derived the formula E=MC2 he unlocked the mystery of nuclear energy. Put the right ingredients together under exacting conditions and enormous power is unleashed. The Scriptures tell us that God’s moral law is no less valid since it stems from His very character.

From the very first man and woman, we have disobeyed God’s laws, even though they are for our best. And we have failed to do what is right. We have inherited this condition from the first man, Adam. The Bible calls this disobedience, sin, which means “missing the mark,” like an archer missing his intended target. Thus our sins have broken God’s intended relationship with us. Using the archer’s example, we have missed the mark when it comes to the purpose we were created for.

Sin causes the severing of all relationships: the human race severed from its environment (alienation), individuals severed from themselves (guilt and shame), people severed from other people (war, murder), and people severed from God (spiritual death). Like links on a chain, once the first link between God and humanity was broken, all contingent links became uncoupled.

And we are broken. As Kayne West raps, “And I don’t think there’s nothing I can do to right my wrongs…I wanna talk to God but I’m afraid cause we ain’t spoke in so long … ” West’s lyrics speak of the separation that sin brings to our lives. And according to the Bible, this separation is more than just lyrics in a rap song. It has deadly consequences.

Our Sins Have Separated Us From God’s Love

Our rebellion (sin) has created a wall of separation between God and us (see Isaiah 59:2). In the Scriptures, “separation” means spiritual death. And spiritual death means being completely separated from the light and life of God.

“But wait a minute,” you might say. “Didn’t God know all of that before He made us?

Why didn’t He see that His plan was doomed for failure?” Of course, an all-knowing God would realize that we would rebel and sin. In fact, it is our failure that makes His plan so mind-blowing. This brings us to the reason that God came to Earth in human form. And even more incredible-—the remarkable reason for his death.

What Did Jesus Say About Himself?

God’s Perfect Solution

During his three years of public ministry, Jesus taught us how to live and performed many miracles, even raising the dead. But he stated that his primary mission was to save us from our sins.

Jesus proclaimed that he was the promised Messiah who would take our iniquity upon himself. The prophet Isaiah had written about the Messiah 700 years earlier, giving us several clues regarding his identity. But the clue most difficult to grasp is that the Messiah would be both man and God!

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And his name shall be called…Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9:6)

Author Ray Stedman writes of God’s promised Messiah: “From the very beginning of the Old Testament, there is a sense of hope and expectation, like the sound of approaching footsteps: Someone is coming! … That hope increases throughout the prophetic record as prophet after prophet declares yet another tantalizing hint: Someone is coming!”[9]

The ancient prophets had foretold that the Messiah would become God’s perfect sin offering, satisfying his justice. This perfect man would qualify to die for us. (Is. 53:6)

According to the New Testament authors, the only reason Jesus was qualified to die for the rest of us is because, as God, he lived a morally perfect life and wasn’t subject to sin’s judgment.

It’s difficult to understand how Jesus’ death paid for our sins. Perhaps a judicial analogy might clarify how Jesus solves the dilemma of God’s perfect love and justice.

Imagine entering a courtroom, guilty of murder (you have some serious issues). As you approach the bench, you realize that the judge is your father. Knowing that he loves you, you immediately begin to plead, “Dad, just let me go!”

To which he responds, “I love you, son, but I’m a judge. I can’t simply let you go.”

He is torn. Eventually he bangs the gavel down and declares you guilty. Justice cannot be compromised, at least not by a judge. But because he loves you, he steps down from the bench, takes off the robe, and offers to pay the penalty for you. And in fact, he takes your place in the electric chair.

This is the picture painted by the New Testament. God stepped down into human history, in the person of Jesus Christ, and went to the electric chair (read: cross) instead of us, for us. Jesus is not a third-party whipping boy, taking our sins, but rather he is God himself. Put more bluntly, God had two choices: to judge sin in us or to assume the punishment himself. In Christ, He chose the latter.

Although U2?s Bono doesn’t pretend to be a theologian, he accurately states the reason for Jesus’ death:

“The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled. It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.”[9]

And Jesus made it clear that he is the only one who can bring us to God, stating, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” (John 14:6)

But many argue that Jesus’ claim that he is the only way to God is too narrow, saying that there are many ways to God. Those who believe all religions are the same deny we have a sin problem. They refuse to take Christ’s words seriously. They say God’s love will accept all of us, regardless of what we have done.

Perhaps Hitler is deserving of judgment, they reason, but not them or others who live “decent lives”. It’s like saying that God grades on the curve, and everybody who gets a D- or better will get in. But this presents a dilemma.

As we have seen, sin is the absolute opposite of God’s holy character. Thus we have offended the one who created us, and loved us enough to sacrifice His very Son for us. In a sense our rebellion is like spitting in His face. Neither good deeds, religion, meditation, or Karma can pay the debt our sins have incurred.

So, why is Jesus alone able to save us from our sins? Aren’t there others qualified to save us? Although there have been many people and prophets who have lived good lives, the New Testament eyewitnesses of Jesus tell us that he was morally righteous in every way. Theologian R. C. Sproul tells us that since Christ lived a sinless life, he alone qualified to be our savior.[10]

A Gift Undeserved

The biblical term to describe God’s free forgiveness through Christ’s sacrificial death is grace. Whereas mercy saves us from what we deserve, the grace of God gives us what we don’t deserve. Let’s review for a minute how Christ has done for us what we could not do for ourselves:

  • God loves us and created us for a relationship with Himself [11]
  • We have been given the freedom to accept or reject that relationship [12]
  • Our sin and rebellion against God and His laws have created a wall of separation between us and Him[13]
  • Though we are deserving of eternal judgment, God has paid our debt in full by Jesus’ death in our place, making eternal life with Him possible.[14]

Bono gives us his perspective on grace.

“Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff..I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge..It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.[15]

We now have the picture of God’s plan of the ages coming together. But there still is one missing ingredient. According to Jesus and the authors of the New Testament, each of us individually must respond to the free gift Jesus offers us. He won’t force us to take it.

You Choose The Ending

We continually make choices—what to wear, what to eat, our career, marriage partner, etc. It is the same when it comes to a relationship with God. Author Ravi Zacharias writes:

“Jesus’ message reveals that every individual…comes to know God not by virtue of birth, but by a conscious choice to let Him have His rule in his or her individual life.”[16]

Our choices are often influenced by others. But in some instances we are given the wrong advice. On September 11, 2001, 600 innocent people put their trust in the wrong advice, and innocently suffered the consequences.The true story goes like this:

One man who was on the 92nd floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center had just heard a jet crashing into the north tower. Stunned by the explosion, he called the police for instructions on what to do. “We need to know if we need to get out of here, because we know there’s an explosion,” he said urgently on the phone.

The voice on the other end advised him not to evacuate. “I would wait ’til further notice.”

“All right,” the caller said. “Don’t evacuate.” He then hung up.

Shortly after 9:00 A.M., another jet crashed into the 80th floor of the south tower. Nearly all 600 people in the top floors of the south tower perished. The failure to evacuate the building was one of the day’s great tragedies.[17]

Those 600 people perished because they relied on the wrong information, even though it was given by a person who was trying to help. The tragedy would not have occurred had the 600 victims been given the right information.

Our conscious choice about Jesus is infinitely more important than the one facing the ill-informed 9/11 victims. Eternity is at stake. We can choose one of three different responses. We can ignore him. We can reject him. Or, we can accept him.

The reason many people go through life ignoring God is that they are too busy pushing their own agenda. Chuck Colson was like that. At age 39, Colson occupied the office next to the president of the United States. He was the “tough guy” of the Nixon White House, the “hatchet man” who could make the hard decisions. Yet, in 1972, the Watergate scandal ruined his reputation and his world became unglued. Later he writes:

“I had been concerned with myself. I had done this and that, I had achieved, I had succeeded and I had given God none of the credit, never once thanking Him for any of His gifts to me. I had never thought of anything being ‘immeasurably superior’ to myself, or if I had in fleeting moments thought about the infinite power of God, I had not related Him to my life.”[18]

Many can identify with Colson. It’s easy to get caught in the fast pace of life and have little or no time for God. Yet ignoring God’s gracious offer of forgiveness has the same dire consequences as outright rejection. Our sin debt would still remain unpaid.

In criminal cases, few ever turn down a full pardon. In 1915, George Burdick, city editor for the New York Tribune, had refused to reveal sources and broken the law. President Woodrow Wilson declared a full pardon to Burdick for all offenses he had “committed or may have committed.” What made Burdick’s case historic is that he refused the pardon. That brought the case to the Supreme Court, which sided with Burdick, stating that a presidential pardon could not be forced on anyone.

When it comes to rejecting Christ’s full pardon, people give a variety of reasons. Many say there isn’t sufficient evidence, but, like Bertrand Russell and a host of other skeptics, they aren’t interested enough to really investigate. Others refuse to look beyond some hypocritical Christians they know, pointing to unloving or inconsistent behavior as an excuse. And still others reject Christ because they blame God for some sad or tragic experience they have suffered.

However, Zacharias, who has debated with intellectuals on hundreds of college campuses believes that the real reason most people reject God is moral. He writes:

” A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence. A man rejects God because of moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God.”[19]

The desire for moral freedom kept C. S. Lewis from God for most of his college years. After his quest for truth led him to God, Lewis explains how acceptance of Christ involves more than just intellectual agreement with the facts. He writes:

“Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again..is what Christians call repentance.”[20]

Repentance is a word that means a dramatic turn-around in thinking. That’s what happened to Nixon’s former “hatchet man”. After Watergate was exposed, Colson began thinking about life differently. Sensing his own lack of purpose, he began reading Lewis’s Mere Christianity, given to him by a friend. Trained as a lawyer, Colson took out a yellow legal pad and began writing down Lewis’s arguments. Colson recalled:

‘I knew the time had come for me. . Was I to accept without reservations Jesus Christ as Lord of my life? It was like a gate before me. There was no way to walk around it. I would step through, or I would remain outside. A ‘maybe’ or ‘I need more time’ was kidding myself.”

After an inner struggle, this former aide to the president of the United States finally realized that Jesus Christ was deserving of his full allegiance. He writes:

“And so early Friday morning, while I sat alone staring at the sea I love, words I had not been certain I could understand or say fell naturally from my lips: ‘Lord Jesus, I believe You. I accept You. Please come into my life. I commit it to You.’”[21]

Colson discovered that his questions, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?” are all answered in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul writes, “It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.” (Ephesians 1:11, The Message)

When we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, he fills our inner void, gives us peace, and satisfies our desire for meaning and hope. And we no longer need to resort to temporary stimuli for our fulfillment. When He enters into us, he also satisfies our deepest longings and needs for true, lasting love and security.

And the staggering thing is that God Himself came as a man to pay our entire debt. Therefore, no longer are we under the penalty of sin. Paul states this clearly to the Colossians when he writes,

“You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (Colossians 1:21b-22a NLT).

Thus God did what we were unable to do for ourselves. We are set free from our sins by Jesus’ sacrificial death. It is like a mass murderer going before a judge and being granted a full and complete pardon. He doesn’t deserve a pardon, and neither do we. God’s gift of eternal life is absolutely free-—and it is for the taking. But even though the pardon is offered to us, it is up to us to accept it. The choice is yours.

Are you at the point in your life where you would like to accept God’s free offer?

Perhaps like Madonna, Bono, Lewis and Colson, your life has also been empty. Nothing you have tried satisfies the inner void you feel. God can fill that void and change you in a moment. He created you to have life that is flooded with meaning and purpose. Jesus said, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10b)

Or perhaps things are going well for you in life but you are restless and lack peace. You realize that you have broken God’s laws and are separated from his love and forgiveness. You fear God’s judgment. Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.”

So whether you are simply tired of a life of empty pursuits or are troubled by a lack of peace with your Creator, the answer is in Jesus Christ.

When you put your trust in Jesus Christ, God will forgive you of all your sins—past, present, and future and make you His child. And as His loving child, He gives you purpose and meaning in life on Earth and the promise of eternal life with Him.

God’s Word says, “to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

Forgiveness of sin, purpose in life, and eternal life are all yours for the asking. You can invite Christ into your life right now by faith through prayer. Prayer is talking with God. God knows your heart and is not as concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. The following is a suggested prayer:

“Dear God, I want to know You personally and live eternally with You. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life and change me, making me the kind of person You want me to be.”

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If so, simply pray the above suggested prayer in your own native language.

When you make a commitment to Jesus Christ, he enters your life, becoming your guide, your counselor, your comforter, and your best friend. Furthermore, he gives you strength to overcome trials and temptation, freeing you to experience a new life full of meaning, purpose, and power.

Chuck Colson discovered that new purpose and power. Colson readily admits that before becoming a Christian, he was ambitious, prideful, and self-centered. He had no desire or power to love others in need. But his thoughts and motives radically changed once he committed himself to Christ.

Endnotes

  1. O: The Oprah Magazine, “Oprah talks to Madonna,” (January, 2004), 120.
  2. Quoted in Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publ., 1981), 1.
  3. Quoted in William R. Bright, “Jesus and the Intellectual” (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publ., 1968), 33.
  4. Quoted in Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 17.
  5. Quoted in Michka Assayas, Bono in Conversation (New York: Riverhead Books, 2005), 203.
  6. Soren Kierkegarrd, Philosophical Fragments, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985), 26-28.
  7. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 2001), 160.
  8. Ray C. Stedman, God’s Loving Word (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 1993), 50.
  9. Quoted in Assayas, 204.
  10. R. C. Sproul, Reason to Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Lamplighter, 1982), 44.
  11. New Testament, John 3:16
  12. Ibid., John 1:12
  13. Old Testament, Isaiah 59:2
  14. New Testament, Romans 5:8
  15. Assayas, Ibid.
  16. Ravi Zacharias, Jesus among Other Gods (Nashville: Word, 2000), 158.
  17. Martha T. Moore and Dennis Cauchon, “Delay Meant Death on 9/11,” USA Today, Sept. 3, 2002, 1A.
  18. Charles W. Colson, Born Again (Old Tappan, NJ: Chosen, 1976), 114.
  19. Ravi Zacharias, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004), 155.
  20. Lewis, 56.
  21. Colson, 129

 



The Christian Life

GotQuestions.org | What is the Christian life supposed to be like?

The Christian life is supposed to be a life lived by faith. It is by faith that we enter into the Christian life, and it is by faith that we live it out. When we begin the Christian life by coming to Christ for forgiveness of sin, we understand that what we seek cannot be obtained by any other means than by faith. We cannot work our way to heaven, because nothing we could ever do would be sufficient. Those who believe they can attain eternal life by keeping rules and regulations—a list of do’s and don’ts—deny what the Bible clearly teaches. “But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Galatians 3:11). The Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Christ because He told them this very truth, that all their righteous deeds were worthless and that only faith in their Messiah would save them.

In Romans 1, Paul says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that saves us, the gospel being the good news that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. When we enter into the Christian life by faith in this good news, we see our faith grow as we come to know more and more about the God who saved us. The gospel of Christ actually reveals God to us as we live to grow closer to Him each day. Romans 1:17 says, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” So part of the Christian life is diligent reading and study of the Word, accompanied by prayer for understanding and wisdom and for a closer, more intimate relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Being crucified with Christ means that our old nature has been nailed to the cross and has been replaced by a new nature which is Christ’s (2 Corinthians 5:17). He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. It means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.

The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39 addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habukkuk: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” God is not pleased with one who “draws back” from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end (Ephesians 1:13-14). The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: “But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” The true believer is one who believes to the end.

So the Christian life is one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own.

 



Missing Church Doesn’t Make You a Sinner

by Tommy Zimmer | “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 (image: Mary Beth Bonacci)

Many Christians think if they miss church service, they might be damned to hell for all eternity. This can be very much seen in Catholic doctrine. “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice,” The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states. “Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” However, that is only one denomination of Christianity. Most other denominations can have significantly different interpretations. It's helpful to have a clear understanding of the different sects of Christianity.

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod explains where the phrase “by faith alone” comes from. It comes from various parts of the Bible but particularly Ephesians 2:8,9. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast,” the passage wrote. This is a very clear departure from the Catholic view, who believe you have to speak to a priest in confession in order to receive absolution for the sins you committed. This has been a particular stressor and important piece of the puzzle. Slate noted this in an article they published. “A generation ago, you'd see a lot of us lined up inside Catholic churches on Saturday afternoons, waiting to take our turn in one of the confessionals,” the article said. “Yet in most parishes, the lines for these confessionals have pretty much disappeared.”

Slate speaks about a cultural change as to why Catholics aren't confessing their sins at mass. However, Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, has been advocating for confession and how helpful it can be. “Moreover, it helps to verbalize your sins with another person,” Martin wrote. “And hearing the words of absolution, viva voce, is a lot more powerful than intuiting them in prayer,” Martin alleges he has spoken with many Catholics and understands how tiring confession can be. But, he still believes in the benefits of confession.

So, the question of missing church can greatly depend on your particular Christian views. It could also be based on whether or not you are very liberal or conservative. Many Catholics can be conservative and pro-life while others might be pro-choice and care more about social justice issues. While individual Christian churches have attempted to set standards, it is tough to enforce them in one country alone but across the world too. It would seem the Lutheran standardsare more sensible. But, we can leave the answer up to you.

About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery and the entertainment industry.


ECWA USA DCC Youth Conference 2017

by Rev. Innocent Nwaobasi | I am writing to ask for your prayers and supports again as the youths meet in Maryland
When: July 13-16th 2017
Where: ECWA Maryland
 
The youth Conference is around the corner from July 13-16th 2017 at Maryland. We appreciate your prayers and supports for our faithful sons and daughters who love the Lord and are involved in our church programs in our various churches in ECWA USA DCC.

 I am writing to ask for your prayers and supports again as the youths meet in Maryland to discuss issues of great importance to them, that will help them grow in the Lord. Any amount the Lord has deposited in your heart to give as a support, I appeal to you to do so. Remember God love a cheerful giver and reward cheerful giving (1 Corinthians 9:7 & Luke 6: 380). As you give God bless you. Please pass this information to all your friends, sons and daughters.
Please support our youth. Send your check to ECWA USA, for Youth Conference Maryland:
Bukky Olaoye
% ECWA Atlanta
2004 Oak Terrace Drive
Atlanta GA 30316.
 
 


Managing the Dark Side of Me

Dr. Arnie Cole/For Man in the Mirror | Are you fighting the good fight of faith and pursuing righteousness daily? (Lightstock)

"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Tim. 6:11-12).

During my career as a behaviorist and researcher, I have met and interviewed hundreds of Christian men who are convinced that overcoming temptation and managing their "dark sides" are impossible goals—at least this side of heaven.

So instead of fighting the good fight, as Scripture instructs us to do, too many men have given up. Some—and I hate to admit it, but myself included—find themselves embracing soul-robbing choices, telling themselves two deadly lies: (1) "I don't really have a problem," and (2) "I can handle this alone."

We all have at least one thing that is so desirous, so attractive to our nature that even the mere thought of it is enough to tip us over the edge. Like an evil spell, our proximity to it immobilizes our senses. It seems to own us. It often calls out to us, and when it presents itself, we are completely undone. Sadly, if we desire something long enough, we'll deceive whomever we have to in order to get it. Usually the first person we deceive is ourselves.

The Bible warns that temptation comes in many forms. Sometimes it's disguised as a lover and friend. Sometimes it appears to be clothed even in light—coming to us with seemingly innocent intentions. Temptation is always stealthy, always deceptive … kind of like a certain snake that entered a certain garden long, long ago.

But here's a little secret about our sinful desires: They are quite predictable, always attacking our brains in the same way. In fact, James—a half-brother of Jesus—knew this all too well, and he observed four stages in the temptation cycle: enticement, conception, birth and death.

James was convinced that the more we understand these four stages, the better we can put up a fight. In his letter to early Christians he said this: "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:13-15).

The good news is, you and I don't have to be defeated by sin. We can manage our dark sides and fight the good fight for the true faith. These five essential steps can help:

Admit to God that something needs to change and confess your struggles to Him.

Accept the Lord's forgiveness and stop beating yourself up for your failures. If you let it, toxic shame will always pull you into a downward spiral … and back into sin.

Find someone you can trust and talk honestly about your struggles.

Acknowledge daily before Christ your lack of power to control your dark side, and pray that He will empower you to avoid temptation to sin by turning to healthy, wholesome triggers.

Set your mind on Scripture all throughout the day. Only truth can undo untruth.



What Is It Like to Be a Christian on Everest?

The north face of Mount Everest (Wikimedia Commons)

I have had a life-long interest in Everest—starting at an elementary school assembly in a tiny South Dakota town where I listened fascinated as a mountaineer related tales from the first American ascent of the world's tallest mountain.

Since then, I've read a small library of books on Himalayan climbing. I've also stood on Everest's summit. Naturally, I wanted to see the new movie Everest.

The movie is a reasonably accurate portrayal of climbing. The characters in Everest struggle through some of the most dramatic and terrifying moments of their lives. As Rob Hall talked with his wife while stranded high on the mountain and doomed to die, one sad thought occupied my mind: In the midst of fear, hopelessness, and the uncertainty of life and death, there was no thought of crying out to God.

This was also my experience on Everest. No thought of God seemed to cross the minds of my fellow climbers, despite the stunning beauty of the mountain and the fear caused by extreme conditions. On my three Everest expeditions, I was the solitary believer in Christ, alone with my God in an unbelieving environment. 

What is it like to be a Christian on Everest? I frequently talk with other believers who see my experiences on Everest as something extraordinary. But as a believer, I don't see it that way. What God requires of me on Everest, God requires of every Christian.

Like any other Christian, I want to do what God created me for. The 1996 tragedy dramatized in Everest was a turning point in my life and career. Reading Krakauer's book prompted me to write a film proposal, which landed me at K2 Base Camp in the summer of 1999, where I filmed a series for National Geographic. Three Everest expeditions as a high altitude cameraman for other companies followed.

However, I've never felt that I pursued Everest. Instead, God has opened doors for me to climb. Once on the mountain, I learned something significant.

I am not a hot climber, but I'm comfortable and extremely competent at altitude. I saw that God had made my body for climbing. I adjusted easily to the thin air at altitude. When my oxygen failed an hour below the summit, I was able to continue to the top, film and descend. I did not lose my appetite high on the mountain, as many climbers do. I did not have to train hard to be fit for climbing. Clearly, I was doing what God had created me to do.

Sensing I was in the center of God's will gave me confidence and removed worry and fear. Does this mean it was all fun? Like every other Christian, I still had to persevere, even when doing what God had designed me for. I've eaten more dal bhat than I care to remember. I've missed the luxury of showers and gone months without seeing my family. I've exerted myself to the point of exhaustion.

Climbing the French Spur on Everest's West Ridge, I worked harder than I've ever worked in my life. Isn't this what God wants for each believer? Where are you competent? What are your gifts? What is the mountain that God has for you? Put your heart into it and work for the glory of God.

When I'm climbing, I'm like every other Christian working a secular job, surrounded by those who don't know Christ. My task is to walk the walk no matter where He has put me. Placed among mountaineers, I saw my contribution as one link in the chain Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 3:6, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."

At K2 Base Camp, I grieved with climbers after the death of their teammate, killed by rock fall high on the mountain. Though I was a newcomer to their mountaineering circle, they approached me with a request: Would I conduct Mehi's funeral? That was a rare chance to freely share my faith with other climbers.

Usually, the opportunities seemed smaller. Profane speech is the norm in base camp, but high on the mountain, in a tent alone with one other climber, the profanity would be gone. I might not have the chance to actually share the gospel with my friend, but maybe my presence would be the opening of that man's mind where the missing thought of God could enter and bear fruit someday. Though it seemed that no one noticed, some of my mountaineering comrades were watching my life. For what believer working in the world is this not also true?

As followers of Christ, God wants our worship. In 2006, I climbed to a place few people have ever gone. I arrived alone on Everest's snow-covered West Ridge and looked out over mountains that had loomed large in base camp but were now small hills below me.

In that moment my heart was full with the worship of God. I knew my fellow mountaineers would experience the exhilaration of reaching the ridge and the beauty of the view, but that they would not be worshipping God. Only I can return to God the worship that He has put in my heart. That is true for every Christian.

What brings you joy? Where has God put you? Wherever that is, give God the worship that you alone can give. 

David Rasmussen has over 25 years of experience as a cinematographer and director of photography specializing in documentary films. His latest project, Finding Noah, a documentary about an archaeological expedition on Mount Ararat in search of Noah's Ark, will premiere nationwide for a one night only event on Oct. 8. For more information, visit findingnoah.com.


Dispelling The Fog

THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
(502) 375-1904

www.ecwa.wordpress.com, www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com

THEME:  THE BIBLICAL DIMENSION
TOPIC:  DISPELLING THE FOG

TEXT: MATTHEW 10: 1-15

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

In the Scripture, what does the phrase “The Biblical Dimension” really stands for or mean?  In reference to the man John Paul, in his Book titled “The Essentials of Global Missions” it could be explained or narrated in different ways.  Such as:                
(A). The God in dialogue.  (B). The analogy of the word of God.  (C). The cosmic dimension of the word.  (D). The creation of man.  (E). The realism of the word.  (F). The Christology of the word.  (G). The eschatological dimension of the word of God.  (H). The word of God and the Holy Spirit.  (I). The Tradition and Scripture. (J). The Sacred Scripture, the inspiration, and the truth.  (K). God the Father, the source, and the origin of the word.  (L). Our Response To The God Who Speaks.  (M). Called to the covenant with God.  (N). God hears us and responds to our questions.  (0). Our dialogue with God through his words.  (P). The word of God and faith.  (Q). Sin as a refusal to hear the word of God.  And, (R).  Mary, “Mother of God’s Word” and “Mother of Faith.”

  1. THE APOSTLES, THE FIRST MISSIONARIES

Our Lord Jesus Christ set apart twelve of His disciples and called them Apostles.  He then send them only to their own people, the Israelites.   This people, the Israelites, were sent to announce that the Jews should repent since their Messiah, the King, as come and His kingdom is impending.  Also, the Lord set apart others, such as the Apostle Paul and Barnabas as Apostles to the Gentiles as well.  The Scripture narrates it thus:        

Ananias Baptizes Saul

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”  And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.  12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” 
 

13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.  14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 

17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,[a] who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.  19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus (Acts 9:10-19 (NKJV).

Defending the Gospel

1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.  2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.  3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.  4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.  7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter  8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),  9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.  10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do (Galatians 2:1-10 (NKJV).

There is another story that narrates the parable of a sower.   It could be viewed in this way:

The Parable of the Sower

1 And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea.  2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:

 

3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.  4 And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air[a] came and devoured it.  5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.  6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.  7 And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.  8 But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”  9 And He said to them,[b] “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

The Purpose of Parables

10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.  11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them (Mark 4:1-12 (NKJV).

Brethren, in all the above narrated stories, how do you view yourself?  Be assured that if you and I should commit ourselves for the ministry that the Almighty God entrusts into our hands, we will change the whole world. 

  1. WHY IN THE WORLD DO WE NEED MISSIONARIES TODAY OR WHO ARE OUR MISSIONARIES?

Some Churches or Denominations spend a lot of time talking about missions or missionaries today.  In order words, it is about planning a mission trip or supporting missionaries around the world.  For example, Missionary Work narrated by our Lord Jesus Christ could be explained thus:

Christ’s Commission to the Eleven
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  18 they[a] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” Mark 16:15-18 (NKJV).

The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.  17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Amen. (Matthew 28: 16 – 20 (NKJV).

The Apostles Commissioned
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,[a] for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained (John 20:19-23 (NKJV).

The above narrated or indicated stories mean that churchgoers understand what Missions are and what Missionaries are commanded to do.  Evangelism is a huge part of Missions and the purpose of Missions and Evangelism is to take or bring the gospel message to others around the world.  That is, Missionaries are called to reach out to the nations just as the Apostle Paul was faithfully and honestly committed to the Missions given to him.  That is, he reached out into the neighborhood with great commission.  
 

CONCLUSION

Brethren, be assured that the Evangelism of Missions means more than just standing on a soapbox preaching the gospel to anyone walking by.  But, Missionary Evangelism comes in numerous forms and is done in a variety of places.  Some of the two most notable missionaries of the Bible were Prophet Isaiah and the Apostle Paul.  Prophet Isaiah was more than willing to be sent out because he had a heart for missions.  The Apostle Paul was called to travel to the nations and make disciples of all nations, most importantly to the Gentiles.    
               Let’s say you are called to missions, what does that mean?  Bear in mind that there are numerous types of missions.  Some Christians are called to preach and plant churches.  They may travel around the world preaching, creating disciples, and building churches.  Other disciples may be sent to use their skills to teach children in underdeveloped countries.  Also, some Christian missionaries show God by doing things that aren't seen as overly religious.  That is, showing God's love in tangible ways.  This means providing medical care to those in need, teaching English as a second language, and providing emergency services after a natural disaster.  
               Bear in mind that there is no right or wrong way to be a missionary.  As seen in the Bible, missionaries and evangelists are used by God in God's own way.   Our Almighty God designs us to be unique and He called us to work with others in a faithful and better way.  If you feel called to missions, it's important that you examine your heart for how God wants to work with you.  For instance, you may be called to missions in Europe, Ethiopia, Liberia, Ghana, Africa, or in Nigeria.  Beloved, follow what God tells you because that's what He designs or commands you to do.  You may view this in the following Scripture, please.  The Epistle of Romans Chapter 15: 14-33.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ keep, bless, and uphold you.  Amen!



The Pedagogy of a Christian Life

THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL (ECWA)
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
(502) 375-1904

www.ecwa.wordpress.com,   www.ecwausa.org,
ecwaky@gmail.com

TOPIC:  The Pedagogy of a Christian Life

TEXT: John 5: 17-24

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi

INTRODUCTION

                What does the phrase “Pedagogy” really mean?  In reference to a man by the name William Alexander, the word Pedagogy could be viewed or explained thus:

What constitutes pedagogy is complex and not easily defined.  Even the definition of pedagogy appears to be somewhat obscure.  Watkins and Mortimer (1999) define it as “any conscious activity by one person designed to enhance the learning of another.   Alexander (2003) has his own preferred definition which suggests that pedagogy requires discourse.”

Pedagogy is the act of teaching together with its attendant discourse.  It is what one needs to know, and the skills one needs to command in order to make and justify the many different Kinds of decisions of which teaching is constituted.

In today’s sermon we will focus on the following topics:

  1. JESUS CHRIST, THE SELF STRONG CENTERED OR SELF-CONCEPT

For we Christians knowing whom we are is an essential part of learning who we are.  Also, knowing who we are in the Lord gives us the confidence that we need to teach others.   Be assured that our Lord Jesus Christ was a man of mission who fully dedicated Himself for the task committed into His hand.   That is, Jesus Christ work is the result of His Father working through Him.  The Scripture says;  

The Father Revealed

7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.  11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. 

The Answered Prayer

12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  14 If you ask[a] anything in My name, I will do it (John 14:7-14 (NKJV).

The Scripture continues again by saying;

13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus Identifies His Betrayer

18 “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me[a] has lifted up his heel against Me.’[b]  19 Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.  20 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (John 13:13-20 (NKJV).  

Brethren, be assured that our relationship with one another is the best way to acknowledge and appreciate each other.  But if we fail to acknowledge and appreciate each other, how can we live successfully?  Be assured that our Lord Jesus Christ worked faithfully, sufficiently, and honestly with His disciples and He obtained victory.  But the question is, how faithfully, honestly, and obediently do you associate yourself with the people in the community each day?  The Lord as called us for His mission and we need to be obedient to it and do it honestly, obediently, and faithfully. 

 

  1. JESUS IDENTIFIES WITH THE FATHER THROUGH PRAYER

In the Scriptures we can find several specific references from Jesus Christ’s prayers.  For instance, in the Book of Luke it is recorded thus:

The Twelve Apostles

12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:  14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor (Luke 6:12-16 (NKJV).

The Apostle Luke narrates how Jesus Christ prayed often in a lonely place and how His disciples tell the Lord to teach them how to pray.  It is recorded thus:

The Model Prayer

1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,[a]
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come[b]
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

3 Give us day by day our daily bread.  4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Luke 11: 1-4 (NKJV).

The Scripture again continues by saying;

Keep Asking, Seeking, and Knocking;

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.      8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?  11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11(NKJV).

Dearly Brethren, looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ, depending on Him, and relying on Him as your Lord and King will give you more ability and hope in Him.  I wish you understand that unless you honestly and truly depend on Him you may not gain victory in Christ Jesus.   That is the reason why a Hymn says, “Emi ni yi, ran mi (Isaiah 6: 8)

  1. Pelu ayo I’ a osise fun Jesu
    Pelu ife I’ a o f’ owo wa se
    Isekise ti O ba yan fun wa,
    L’ ododo I’ a o sise, ‘ranse wa 

Egbe:     Sise fun Jesu,
               L’ ayo I’ a o lo, I’ ayo I’ a o lo,
               Sise fun Jesu
               Ninu ogba Re I’aiye

    2.        Pelu adun Ii a o so itan naa,
               Ti ‘fe nla Re s’awon enia,
               Kristi itansan Ogo ti Baba,
               Lofe I’On y’o fi ‘bukun fun wa

 

  1. Pelu ‘reti I’o sise f’Oluwa,
    A o fi otito rin lona Re

A o t’asako sodo Olugbala,

A o f’ Od’agutan han elese.


CONCLUSION

Dearly beloved, looking unto the Lord as our Savior and deliverer gives us the ability and opportunity of trusting, depending, and believing in Him the more.  But if we fail to put our trust in Him, focus on Him, and depend more on Him, it will be difficult for us to achieve any goal or success.  Therefore, Look on to Him the more then success and victory will be yours.