From Arizona to Honduras

Last summer, we had a few members from our church attend short-term missions. We thought it would be exciting to hear from a member of our church as he recounts his time from attending two short-term missionary journeys. The first to Arizona and the second to Honduras. I hope you’ll find the recap to be exciting and challenging.

From: Raymond Lu

Arizona

Religious Background: A lot of missionaries from different religious sects come to these reservations. Most of the locals have a surface level knowledge of Christianity where they group Mormonism, Catholicism, and Christianity as all the same.

What we did: The main event that we held was a children’s VBS for five days. The children are raised very sheltered when young. Because of this, most of the kids were very energetic and wild. For the youth (7th–12th), we ran a basketball camp as well as a VBS. Our regular schedule consisted of waking up, doing door-to-door evangelism while inviting kids to attend our VBS, setting up for VBS and then VBS, and then debriefing the day.

What I learned: Throughout the week in Arizona, it is disappointing to admit that I was very pessimistic. I was in charge of the games, and on a few occasions I would ask the children what they learned during the day. Most of the time, I would get blank stares. I had a lot of fun but I was really questioning whether we were really teaching the kids or not. It was a matter of fruitfulness and faithfulness where I was so focused on the fruit rather than trusting in the sovereignty of God. And this all changed the very last night I was there. I was able to talk to one of the older adults and he was telling me his testimony. He told me how his son went to a VBS and couldn’t stop talking about God and how he learned about God through his son. Many times, I know that I can doubt children and their ability to understand their own faith. I know during that week especially, I doubted God’s ability to change a heart no matter how young he/she is. And all I could do was plant a seed hoping that it would grow.

Honduras

What we did: We focused on medical checkups, optometry, and pharmacy. Throughout the week, I split my time between the optometry team and the pharmaceutical team. Every day we ran a “clinic” where the nearby villages would come and seek medical attention. The doctors did most of the evangelizing as they needed the translators the most but when there were translators that were free we had opportunities to speak with the people in line. Each day we would spend about 6 hours in a village running our clinics. On occasion, we would also distribute water to a local neighborhood. We also visited two orphanages and played with the kids.

What I learned: I met a missionary couple, David and Lydia, who are in charge of an orphanage in Honduras. David shared his testimony about how he gave up a comfortable lifestyle in the states to go to Honduras. He started from nothing in Honduras to where he is now, an orphanage that has grown to more than 500 kids. After we heard the testimony we played with the kids that lived in the orphanage. As we were playing, David came driving in a tractor. All the kids stopped playing with us, dropped everything, wriggled out of our arms, and cried out “PAPI!” or daddy. They rushed to him to receive a simple hug. Behind the hugs were a lifetime of sacrifice and submission to God. I saw how God had used David to touch the lives of all these orphans and teach them about God. Before we arrived, he told us that he came here so that he could show the orphans in Honduras that somebody still loved them and it is clear that he didn’t mean love from himself or Lydia but rather God. The 970 acres of land that he received when he was only paying for 10, the growth of his orphanage from 5 to 500 children, and the happiness of all the children I met there all gave witness to his faith in Christ.

The Joy of Jesus Christ

When thinking of missions and missionaries, I often think about how much I would have to give up, whether just a week or longer, to go to places like these where clean water is a luxury. When looking at David, I couldn’t help but smile and marvel at how much he was blessed in this country. I saw that he found his joy in Christ where in it, he traded everything he had in America for a hug.

Let me ask: what do you find your joy in? I’m not saying that your joy in Christ will lead you to some far off country where you will do missions when in fact it could lead you to your workplace, your school or even your friends and share the grace and mercy of the Gospel.

Do you treasure God so highly that you find all your worth and value in knowing and understanding Christ.? What better way to understand Christ than to strive to be like Christ in all your endeavors! All that Jesus commands, whether it be in Matthew 22:37–40 or Matthew 28:19–20, is to help us become more like Him as well as knowing our joy is in God. It is a serious matter to share the Gospel with others because salvation is at stake. He gave us the job to (1) glorify Him in the spreading of His Word and (2) glorify Him by becoming more like Christ and understanding Him more intimately.

Strange Fire Conference: The Follow Up

Well, no sooner had I posted those links, more links were issued out by various Christian blogs. I thought there were two links that were helpful. The reason they were helpful was because it came straight from Pastor John MacArthur’s lips.

The first is an interview conducted by Dr. Jason Allen, a transcript of the interview.

Eventually, the book Strange Fire, the conference, and what was said there is going to have to be debated on the grounds of biblical interpretation. That is where we would like to force the issue.

The second is another interview conducted by Tim Challies in which I thought Pastor John answered in a thoughtful manner with a strong appeal to “continuationists” as well as for “open-but cautious” to consider their stance and understanding of God’s Word.

On the one hand, I would agree that this is a second-level doctrinal issue—meaning that someone can be either a continuationist or a cessationist and still be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. I have always maintained that position, and I reiterated that point several times during the conference. I have good friends who consider themselves continuationists, and I am confident that these men are fellow brothers in Christ. But that doesn’t excuse the seriousness of the error. In fact, I would appeal to my continuationist brethren to reconsider their views in light of what Scripture teaches.

Strange Fire Conference

With the recent Strange Fire conference, I know that there are many questions you may have to the topic as well as the outcome of the conference.

The first thing to do is actually review the conference. The first place to go to is the host of the conference, Grace Community Church and under their Grace To You ministry. The link is below. At the site, you can download each of the sessions. It’s important that you spend time listening to the conference before you’re asked to weigh in (if you weigh in at all).

Additionally, you can also purchase the book–under the same title–at Amazon

Second, there were helpful recaps and summaries of the conference from trusted Christians who have sought to blog and recap the sessions. I won’t include all of the links from the respective sites as they will have included internal links to the various summaries. I’ll just include the first and you can explore their site for more of their summaries.

After reviewing the summaries and videos, here is a link for consideration as you weigh the implications. A truth that needs careful consideration. As always, my exhortation to you is to be wary of any online discussions as may slip into unprofitable speech or unedifying.

The Unshakable Mountain

Psa. 125:0    A SONG OF ASCENTS.
Psa. 125:1    Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the LORD will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!

“My feelings are important for many things. They are essential and valuable. They keep me aware of much that is true and real. But they tell me next to nothing about God or my relation to God. My security comes from who God is, not from how I feel…The image [in Psalm 125] that announces the dependable, unchanging, safe, secure existence of God’s people comes from geology, not psychology.” Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Downers Grove; IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 83.

Blessed are the Meek

The intent of these “follow-up” additions to the sermon are for those who serve in the children’s ministry as well as for those who were absent at church. The hope is that it’ll add something to your midweek bible study as well as keep you up-to-date with the rest of the congregation.

Introduction

  • The Beatitudes are shocking and perplexing when you first read it. It’s even more so shocking to Jesus’ listeners because they were completly mystified as to what they were hearing.
  • The Jews were often times astonished at what Jesus said and often times shocked because of the implications.
    • The expectations were high and previously mentioned, there were 4 religious groups in dominate control (e.g. Pharisees, Sadduces, Essenes, and Zealots).
  • Jesus went and preached against the means in which each of the groups expected the new Messiah to fulfill. A fulifllment that based entirely on their own expectations and traditions and not on the prophecy of the Old Testament.
    • The people would first reject Jesus. They would then hate Jesus. Culiminating in the evil desire to kill Him because He wouldn’t approve of their religion.
      • Instead of approving their religion, He condemned them

Meekness is…?

  • Gentle. The world basically means mild or soft.
    • The word was used in conjunction in a variety of ways. In medicine, it had a connotation of soothing; with the weather, it was alikened to a soft breeze. In animal husbandary, it was used of colts and other animals that were wild but broken by a trainer.
    • For humans, it’s an attitude of gentle spirit, meek, submissive, quiet and tenderhearted.
      • Matthew 21:5; look at how Jesus is characterized as He triumphantly enters into Jerusalem.
  • The essential difference between being “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3) and being “meek” (Matt 5:5) is that poor in spirit focuses on our sinfulness and destitution while meekness focuses in on God’s holiness. Humility underlines both virtues.
  • Meekness isn’t weakness, cowardice or emotional baggage. It’s not lack of conviction or mere human niceness. True meekness is courage, strength, and conviction that come from God and not self. True meekness is power put under effective control and discipline.
    • Proverbs 25:28 & Proverbs 16:32
  • Reconigizng True Meekness
    • There are a multitude of characters we can look to in the Scriptures as examples of true meekness. Scope ranges from Abraham, Joseph, Moses to David. In the New Testament, obviously we could see this in Jesus and in the Apostle Paul.

“We cannot see the world as God means it in the future, save as our souls are characterized by meekness. In meekness we are its only inheritors. Meekness alone makes the spiritual retina pure to receive God’s things as they are, mingling with them neither imperfection nor impurity.” George MacDonald

The Outcome of Meekness

  • The general result of meekness is being blessed, being made divinely happy. Look at the 2nd half of Matthew 5:5.
  • The subjects of His Kingdom are going to come someday into that promised inheritance–which was lost and perverted after the Fall.
  • Our responsibility is to trust in the Lord and obey His will. The settling of accounts, whether it’s judgment or blessing, is in His hands and will be accomplished at the exact right time and right way.
    • Let’s live in faith and hope based on biblical promises and the divine pronouncement that we’ll inherit the earth.

The Need for Meekness

  • Meekness is required for salvation. Only the meek will inherit the earth because only the meek belong to the King who will rule the future kingdom of the earth.
  • Meekness is commanded.
    • Zeph 2:3; James 1:21.
  • Meekness is needed for effective witness
    • 1 Peter 3:15
  • Meekness gives glory to God
    • Pride seeks own glory whereas true meekness seeks God’s glory.

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