Loi Krathong is a Thai word that means “floating crown”. Right now, thousands of Buddhists in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar are celebrating by floating these crowns on the water. In many places, other Khom (lanterns) are placed in temples, homes, carried on sticks, and flown in the night sky. This annual tradition was started more than 500 years ago.
Although beautiful to look at, this tradition is very sad. Buddhists who participate are trying to earn Merit. In essence, they are performing a good deed by honoring someone or something else: the river, the environment, ancestors, or Buddha.
Buddha taught, “What do you take along when you go? What follows behind you like a shadow that never leaves? Both the merit & evil that you as a mortal perform here: that’s what’s truly your own, what you take along when you go; that’s what follows behind you like a shadow that never leaves. So do what is admirable, as an accumulation for the future life. Deeds of merit are the support for beings when they arise in the other world.” – Samyutta Nikaya III.4
Isaiah 57:12-13 tells us what God thinks of this:
I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you.
When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.
Pray for the people of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma) that are blindly trying to earn merit.
- Pray that they would stop worshiping created things like rivers, and men.
- Pray that they would trust the merit of Christ alone for eternal life.
- Pray that they would follow Christ who is the only way, truth, and life.
- Pray that they would pursue worshiping God instead of soul-annihilation as the greatest achievement.
- Pray that God would send laborers into the 575 Buddhist People groups.
- Pray that many of the 375 million Buddhist would believe.
We have all tried it! Things aren’t going our way, so we just hold our breath and turn blue. Go ahead, try it now…
…Didn’t do much good, did it? Most of us gave up this trick by the time we were teenagers, because it does no good!!!
Unfortunately, we haven’t given up the desire to be noticed when things aren’t going our way. This is true in all of our relationships, even with God. We try all sorts of things to get God’s attention (as if he doesn’t already know every detail of our lives). One of the most extreme examples is the abuse of fasting. That’s right, we abuse fasting!
Before you give up on this post, answer one question: What is fasting for? If you can’t answer this question accurately, you are missing a biblical discipline that could be your key to spiritual health.
For many years, I would have answered this question: “Fasting is to get God’s attention” or “Fasting is to show God that I am serious about my request” or “Fasting is to humble yourself before God” All of which are wrong! If these are your answers, then you are just skipping meals, NOT fasting. In a way, you are holding your breath and turning blue spiritually. God is not impressed.
So what is fasting for? Scripture has a lot to say about this in Isaiah 58.
Verse five tells us what fasting is NOT.
5 “Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD ?
The answer to God’s rhetorical question is NO! Verse six and seven give us the biblical answer:
6 “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? 7 “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house ; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh ?
Fasting is a gift from God that is specifically designed to help us get free from our sin in order to bless others. Have you ever heard of anyone fasting for the right reason? Have you?
The next time, a brother or sister in Christ declines lunch because they are fasting, ask them if you can pray that they would be “Freed from the bonds of wickedness.” After you peel them off the floor, share Isaiah 58 with them.
So what does this have to do with missions? Glad you asked! When we approach life as missions, we must do it with holiness. Fasting is one of the tools that God has given us to pursue holiness. When we do this, God promises the following result:
8 “Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, 10 And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. 11 “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. 12 “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations ; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell. – Isaiah 58
We could be the church that restores the prostitutes on Nebraska Avenue, the strip clubs on South Dale Mabry, and the bars on 7th in Ybor. Let us pursue the holiness that Christ has already given us, and let Him work through us.
Think you can achieve this result in your own power? Don’t hold your breath…
What’s your place in God’s mission? Try approaching it with fasting and prayer.
It is a great feeling when your wife walks by you and says, “Humm, you smell good!” It is a great feeling because you realize the purpose for putting on cologne has been accomplished. Another reason is the compliment comes from someone who loves you.
2 Cor. 2:15 “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…”
Did you know that God smells you? He does not smell you like a human who possesses “olfactory nerves?” God does not have nerves or a nose, because God is spirit. When the bible implies that He smells us, He is merely using an “anthropomorphism.”
Anthropomorphism is any attribution of a human characteristic to God. Anthropomorphisms help us to better understand Him and His actions towards us. The aroma of Christ in this verse is figurative language, referring to the sweet smell of burnt offerings to God in the Old Testament
This verse says, we emit a pleasing, sweet smelling aroma towards God. In other words, God smells us! But, do all of us emit this beautiful fragrance that brings pleasure to God’s nostrils? The answer is No, not all of us.
In the context of this verse, the people whom emit this aroma are those who are sharing the Gospel, his disciples, his faithful followers. If you are sharing the Gospel, if you are proclaiming the Good News, you are smelling good. The proclamation of the Gospel is all about His Son. God loves His Son and when we speak of His Son, this action produces a sweet aroma that is pleasing to Him. The proclaimer of the Gospel is the aroma of Christ to God!
Not only is God smelling us when we proclaim the Gospel, but the world also smells us.
2 Cor. 2:16 “to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”
As we all know, some aromas attract, like the aroma of your favorite meal being cooked. When you catch a whiff of this smell, you try to find the source of the aroma. On the other hand, some aromas repel and make us move away from the source. This is what the Gospel does in the world. To some, it is a sweet aroma that attracts and gives life, to others, it is an offensive aroma that repels and reveals divine judgment.
Barclay calls the repelling aroma “a deadly and poisonous stench.” The aroma which attracts is “a living and life–giving perfume.”
Our words and our works for Christ are like incense that is crushed, burnt and diffused everywhere, as a waft of perfume.
Let me ask you a question. “How are you smelling today?” Can the world smell you or are you like a cheap bottle of perfume that smells good when you open it the first time, but quickly looses its fragrance?
More important, can God smell you?
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” 2 Cor. 2:14
Why don’t you take your “Sweet Aroma” to the outer parts of the world? Visit the Mission Trip Calendar on this blog or e-mail us at missions@Idlewild.org for mission trip opportunities.
“You are not obedient to the Great Commandment if you are not obedient to the Great Commission.”
A strong but truthful quote, or is it just the “one track mind” of a mission pastor speaking? Let me try to expound. Paraphrasing the above quote would read, “You are not loving God if you are not living the Great Commission.”
In order to understand the reasoning behind this quote, we probably need to start with explaining the meaning of “loving God.” The Great Commandment says:
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
38 This is the great and first commandment. Matt. 22:37-38
What would loving God with all your heart, soul and mind look like?
I believe, if you love Him with all your heart, your heart will “break for the things that break His heart.” (R. Sterns)
If you love Him with all your soul, you will be willing to give your life for the souls of unbelievers like He did with His Son.
If you love Him with all your mind, because your mind is a renewed mind (Rom. 12:2), you would desire to do His will. Because you know His will, His desires are “good, acceptable and perfect.” He desires for “no one to perish, but have eternal life.”
Now that you know the meaning of the Great Commandment, let’s look at what the Great Commission says:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-19
What does living the Great Commission look like?
It looks like you “making disciples.” It’s putting all that bible knowledge you have accumulated throughout these years to work, by pouring it into someone’s life. Robert Coleman said, “Making disciples is not a special gift or calling; it is a lifestyle of obedience incumbent on the whole body of Christ, the church.”
It looks like you sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and guiding believers to being obedient to the ordinance of baptism.
It looks like you teaching them to obey all God’s commands by modeling obedience to “all” He commands them to do.
It looks like you loving your neighbors as much as you love yourself, your next door neighbors and your next-country-over neighbors.
So, “What’s love got to do with it?” Everything!
Our love for God should be the compelling force which drives us to participate in the Great Commission. Our love for Him should dictate the priorities in our lives. If He loved us so much that He gave His Son to die for us on the cross. If He loved us even while we were still sinners…the least we can do is be obedient to His commands.
“When you love the Lord, you long to glorify Him and see the nations fall at His feet in worship”. Keith Wright.
Show your love for God by being obedient to the Great Ommission, and see what great things He will do in your life.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”- 1 Cor. 2:9
* Live the Great Commission…Join us in 2012 as we show the love of Jesus Christ around the world. Check out our 2012 trip opportunities in Mission Trip Calendar tab on this blog.
Thursday afternoon’s agenda was to evangelize door to door and tell people about the possibility of a new Baptist church opening in their village. Our group consisted of a translator, a couple from the local church, and 4 members from the trip. The first house we stopped at looked very similar to the other houses we had visited on the previous days. Little did our group realize what God had planned for this house, and a special little child named Elliot.
While Tiffany was sharing the Gospel with two ladies in the house, my friend Gary and I sat outside discussing how hospitable the Costa Rican people were to our teams. Then we noticed a small child running around the yard in a 12 month onesie and one sandal. To our surprise, he was talking and we instantly could tell something was different. The female member (Olbi) from the local church informed us Elliot was a dwarf and was actually 3 years old.. After playing with him, I slipped over to the driveway and began to pray asking for Tiffany’s words to be clear and that the women’s hearts would be opened to God’s truth. I ended the prayer with saying “Lord, I can’t even imagine how difficult little Elliot’s life is and will be, and if there is any kind of comfort you can provide him, please do it.” I opened my eyes and took a few steps towards Gary, who was sitting on a bench by the house. Then I noticed a tiny brown shoe lying on the ground. Thinking that was odd, I took another couple of steps and there was the matching shoe. Instantly, I remember thinking “did that really just happen?”. I handed the shoes to Olbi, who placed them on Elliot. They were a little too big. I proceeded to tell Gary what happened, and he made me explain it to him again. We were both speechless.
Gary and I then walked to the driveway and looked in the back yard, which had a multitude of items considered “junk” in the US a broken surfboard, some rusty outdoor light fixtures, used car tires, and grass higher than your ankles. Nonetheless, Elliot was running all over the place just being a kid getting into everything and playing with a little red ball. About this time, the group walked out of the house so Gary and I walked towards Elliot to tell him we were leaving. What do you think he was carrying in his hands as he was walking over to us? I absolutely couldn’t believe what I was seeing – it was a brand new pair of white shoes. Gary looked at the shoes and said “Ryan, there isn’t a speck of dirt on these”. They are brand new!” Our team could have walked all day in that village and never found another new pair of shoes. You can probably imagine the emotions that Gary and I felt as we slipped the shoes on little Elliot’s feet. Of course, they fit perfectly.
As our team discussed the story later, and I have had the opportunity to share it with numerous people, I continue to be tremendously humbled by what God did for little Elliot that day, and am glad that we were able to experience this tiny miracle. Proof positive that God is everywhere and He can do anything if we will just ask Him for His help instead of relying on our own resources.
The picture above is of little Elliot with Tiffany who was able to share the gospel at his house. I think you will agree these are the brightest white shoes you will ever see. To God be the glory!
* Our next Costa Rica Mission Trip is on 4/28/12 to 5/5/12. Contact our Idlewild On Mission ministry at 813-264-8727 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is nothing more bothersome to me than to realize I cannot do something I really want to do. But the reality is, there are many things I cannot do.
As much as I love songs, “I cannot sing”, I have tried it and it sounds good to me, until I seek the opinion of those around me.
I admire men who are masters of the culinary arts. They impress their wives’ and their wives friends. “I cannot cook,” my cooking skills barely make the level of chicken on the barbie. That is, if you don’t care for extra, extra crispy chicken.
One of my favorite movies of all times is “Play It Again Sam.” I love to see Sam tickle the ivories, but it also reminds me, “I cannot play the piano.”
Tried it when I was younger, my highest level of proficiency was “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and it was painful to the ear.
When we go to the Florida Strawberry Festival, I am always captivated by the man drawing caricatures. I am impressed on how he can exaggerate the features on a person’s face and how quickly he finishes the drawings. When I was young, I was a comic book fan I tried to draw the characters in the books, but once I was done with them, they no longer looked like superheroes. All this to say, “I cannot draw.”
I am not alone in the things I cannot do. Throughout history, there have been men whom have been known for something they could not do, although these things have not been so trivial as drawing, singing or playing the piano.
In 1521, Martin Luther, who through the church’s excommunication, was practically declared a heretic, was invited to Worms, a town on the west bank of the Rhine river in Germany by the Emperor, who had been pressured by a few princes. Both the church and Emperor wanted Luther to recant his teachings while he was there. But they quickly heard about the one thing Luther could not do.
Luther had to appear before the Emperor twice; each time he was clearly told to take back his teachings. Luther didn’t see any proof against his views which would move him to recant: “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. “I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”
Luther was totally convinced of the scriptural truth of his discovery, that ‘the righteous shall live by faith and that we do not earn salvation because of doing the good works.’ He defied the pope and the powerful Roman Church. Though despised and persecuted, he remained faithful to the principle that man is saved by his faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement.
Luther was not willing to change his beliefs on salvation, he could not!
Many years before Luther, there was prophet called Jeremiah. Jeremiah had been given the task by God to take the message to Israel, “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.” (Jer. 7:2)
Unfortunately, God also told him, “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you.” (Jer. 7:27)
This did not matter to Jeremiah, because there was one thing he could not do. If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name, there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jer. 20:9). Not speaking of God was painful to Jeremiah, he could not do this. For us, many times it’s the opposite.
Right between Luther and Jeremiah, you find two of my bible heroes Peter and John admitting they could not do what was asked of them. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20). These two men could not stop speaking of their Savior.
When I look back at all the things I cannot do, I pray there will be at least two things I will not add to this list. The first is: I will never back off from sharing God’s Word when given the opportunity to do so. The second is, I will never deny the truth of His Word.
I pray I can live up to Paul’s words, “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Phil. 1:20)
What about you? What are the things to which you say, “I cannot do that”? Are they trivial things or Kingdom things?
Look at our Mission Trip’s for 2012 and say “I can do that”!
Salt is something that we take for granted in our day, but in the ancient world it was an important commodity. Scripture reports that salt was used in various contexts and as various symbols. One passage that has always troubled me is Matthew 5:13, where our Lord uses salt as a symbol.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
What has always confused me is the scientific paradox that is presented here. Salt is a very stable substance. In fact, in order for it to be chemically modified, it is usually diluted with water and electrified (impossible in the first century). How then can Salt become “Saltless” (literal translation of Mark 9:50)? None of us want to be a worthless, saltless Christian!
This passage still convicts me, but it is no longer because of fear. Why? True salt remains salty! The other examples in this passage show the absurdity of fearing saltless Christianity. #1 A hill-top city cannot be hidden. #2 A light (lamp) cannot be covered. It would extinguish, or burn through the covering. In the same way, salt cannot become saltless! So why does our Lord use this example?
The answer lies in the historical difference of salt. In the first century, salt came from natural sources, such as sea-salt and salt mines. Pure salt was gathered from the mines, but was always contaminated with other minerals. Today, various qualities of salt are used for different things (salting roads, or salting a filet mignon). It was the same in scripture. Salt only became Saltless in one of two ways:
#1 It was never true salt. Dishonest merchants could sell contaminated salt with a sample of pure salt on top. As the pure salt was used up, the contaminated salt would be exposed and become saltless. Have you ever met a church member who was salty on the surface, but their non-christian character was eventually exposed?
#2 It was contaminated by an outside influence. Salt is less effective when it has become contaminated. I once witnessed a 5 year old at Wendy’s licking the top of the salt shaker on each table. Needless to say, I found those salt-shakers less effective (and used individual salt-packets every time since). It is the same with the Christian life. We never become less Christian, we simply allow outside contaminants to ruin our effectiveness.
Here is the point: We don’t have to fear a change in our salty Christian nature, only contamination and fraud. Our challenge is to remain salty by avoiding contamination from this world.
One more salty fact to consider: First century farmers often added a little salt to the manure pile, speeding the composting process to make even the most fowl refuse into something profitable. Be encouraged, no matter how bad your surroundings are, you can remain pure and effective.
As Great Commission Christians, we need to allow our lost neighbors to “Pass the Salt” every time they walk by us.
Looking for some opportunities to be Salt and Light? Find opportunities on www.idlewildserves.org.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27)
It was the third time I had received a call on my cell phone from a number I did not recognize or have in my cell phone directory. That evening I received another call from the same number but this time it was on my home phone. Most times I let it roll to voicemail but this time I decided to pick up the phone. And I am glad I did because it was Mamadou (no danger to him, this is a very common name, it is like saying I received a call from John), a young Muslim English teacher I met on a mission trip to Mali two years before.
I was surprised by his call, but glad to hear his voice. He just wanted to say “Hi!” He was thinking of you and wanted to share what was going on in his life.
When I met Mamadou two years ago, we connected right away; the fact he spoke English was a plus! One night I shared the Gospel with him. He was receptive to the message and had many questions. After a long conversation I said to him, “You say you find this story (The Gospel) very credible and that it makes sense to you.” Tell me then, “Would you like to walk the Jesus way tonight?” He replied, “Yes it makes sense to me, but no, I cannot walk the Jesus way tonight!” I asked him, “Why not?” He replied, “Because if I walk the Jesus way, my parents, who are radical Muslims, will persecute me and ask me to leave the house; they will physically hurt me.”
Mamadou did not choose to walk the “Jesus Way” that night, even after a long explanation regarding the eternal consequences of his choice. But I continue to pray for him and remember him often. I recall a previous phone conversation I had with him a year ago. This day I called him. We spoke about many things, but I remember one of the things he wanted me to pray for was for him to find a wife. Being a 30 year old Muslim without a wife was not viewed favorably among his friends and family. I told him I would pray for him and ask God to send him a wife. I also told him he would have a chance to meet my wife when the next mission team arrived in January.
I vividly remember this phone conversation because it makes me smile when I think of it. When the mission team arrived one month later in Mali, Mamadou came to the compound one night and someone introduced him to Lourdes, my wife. He immediately Mamadou asked with a smile on his face, “Are you the wife Pastor Ray sent me?” I would have loved to have seen the expression on Lourdes’ and the teams’ faces that night! Mamadou had misunderstood thinking I was sending him a wife rather than my wife was going on the trip to Mali. We laugh every time we talk about that incident.
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches I reflect on Mamadou and his struggles with finding a wife, getting a higher paying teaching position, not having a car to travel to work, and many of the same kinds of struggles we in America experience. I am reminded that not all Muslims are terrorist and not every Muslim hates Americans. I am reminded that God also made Muslims in His image. And we are to reflect back to them what the “Image of God” really looks like. What it looks like when we are reconciled with our Creator and have the hope of eternal life. We have the obligation, no, we have the privilege of showing them the way to “true life”.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
On 9/11, remember the 4.5 billion Muslims who live in the “1040″ window (visit http://www.joshuaproject.net/10-40-window.php for more info). If you don’t have a Muslim friend, remember Mamadou and pray for him. Pray that someday he will have the courage to “walk the Jesus way.” Oh, and that he may find a wife!
Make this your prayer verse on 9/11:
“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:1)
Want to meet some friendly Muslims who are willing to listen to the stories of the Bible? Those who are interested in learning about your “Story?” Join us on one of our mission trips to Mali in 2012. Visit our 2012 Mission trip calendar on this blog or e-mail missions@Idlewild.org for more information.
“The Gospel was not given just so we can live forever. It was given so we can live for today” (Ray Sanabria)
I used to think that the day I received the Gospel was the day all was well, the day I could rest and not worry, the day I was assured of going to heaven. But the more I read the bible the more I realized the Gospel was given to us for so much more. The Gospel has made our lives well. It has given us peace. Hell is no longer an issue. But there is more. Not only has it changed how we are going to live our eternity; it has changed the way we should live today.
The Gospel helps us do three things.
Live A Free Life
We are no longer a slave to sin because we have been set free. We no longer need to carry the burden of an unforgiven sin from the past. The Gospel cleanses the sin of our past so we can have freedom in the present.
Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
Live A Powerful Life
We no longer have to live an ‘ordinary’ life; we have the ability to live an ‘extraordinary’ life by the power the Gospel has deposited within us. This power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Live An Influential Life
We no longer need to live a selfish life, thinking only about ourselves and our future. We now have the ability to live a life of influence. We can change the world a life at a time. We can bring freedom to a world that is a prisoner to sin. We can offer power to a weak world. We can turn the world ‘upside down’.
Acts 17:6 “And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also”
Don’t settle for an ordinary life. Live an extraordinary life!”
Join us as we “Live The Gospel” in our community and across the world. Get involved in our local ministries or visit our 2012 Mission Trip Calendar on this blog.
God commanded us to care for the poor. But with limited resources, how should we prioritize the ministry of evangelism and the ministry of mercy?
In short, the ministry of evangelism IS our most important ministry of mercy. If we truly believe that Hell is real, and the Gospel is the solution, then any mission of mercy will include evangelism. Remember the last three verses in Isaiah whenever you need motivation to share the Bread of Life:
~ Isaiah 66:22-24
22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. 24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
This verse is a solemn reminder that every month and every week in eternity will be marked by worship of the one true God. Part of that worship will be a visual reminder of God’s triumph over His enemies.
We cannot fail to be Christ-like by showing physical Mercy and Love. In fact, that is how we will be known as His disciples (John 13:35). And according to Galatians 6:10, we are to ‘do good’ to believers and to ‘all men’. Consider this, what good is it for us to relieve suffering for men in this world, and allow them to loose their eternal souls? (Mark 8:36) God forbid that we should be temporally compassionate and eternally negligent.
The next time you pick up your apron at the mercy kitchen, don’t forget your gospel shoes! If you aren’t involved in a mercy ministry, you can find one here: http://www.idlewild.org/missions/missions/local-missions.html
Idlewild on Local Mission
Several years ago I was asked a simple question, “Are you packing?” My mind went immediately to suitcases and clean underwear, but my friend had something else in mind. If you asked a Sheriff the same question, he would assume you were asking, “Do you have a weapon on you?” I am talking about our spiritual weapon, the Word of God.
If you are like me, then you are tempted to view a mission trip as an isolated experience; one that we save for, plan for, pack for, and execute with physical and spiritual care. If you have ever gone on a mission trip, you have carefully packed your bags with strange items like bug-spray, deflated soccer balls, and tracts that you can’t even read.
What if we approached every day with the same amount of care for the lost?
Consider this: God has chosen the People of God, filled with the Spirit of God, using the Word of God to fulfill His mission in this world. Sadly, we often neglect this awesome responsibility, and we start by failing to “pack” for our daily mission. We aren’t prepared with the Word of God, our only weapon against the hopelessly lost condition of this world.
There are numerous ways to “pack”. First and foremost, you should know the gospel by heart. Whether it is the Roman’s Road, Bridge to Life, Share Jesus model, or something else, the gospel is simple, and you should be able to share it anywhere, anytime. I would suggest that you go one step further. Carry a portion of the scripture with you. A gospel tract, gospel of John, or New Testament can be a powerful aid when sharing your faith.
For me, it is a constant reminder to look for opportunities to share. When you grab your keys, wallet, and cell phone, also grab your “weapon”. Offer up a short prayer asking the Lord, “Please give me an opportunity to share the gospel today.” Those opportunities will come, and you will be reminded of your mission every time you see your “weapon” while reaching for your keys or grabbing your wallet. Add this to your daily routine, and you will be surprised at the number of gospel encounters you will have.
Here are some ideas to get you started. Memorize the verses associated with the gospel. Visit the Missions Café and get a stack of gospel tracts. Sign up for the Pocket Testament League and give away a gospel of John each day. Put a New Testament in your car, in your briefcase, and on your desk.
Idlewild on Local Mission
Amazon River Mission Trip Report – June ’11.
As I prepared for the trip to the Amazon in June, I prayed to see the power of Jesus Christ as people came to know Him. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to not be grieved in what He saw of me. I prayed to be forever changed with a burden for a people in a land I knew little of.
I knew as I prayed, that God would take me out of my comfort zone here at home. I knew I would be living in an open boat, sleeping on a hammock for 10 days. I knew I would be sweaty and dirty and there would be no comforts of air conditioning for this time. I knew I would be working with people with whom I could not communicate, because we didn’t speak the same language. I knew that the most uncomfortable facet of this trip (for me) would be leaving my 4 ½ year old son behind. For God had answered my prayer for a child at the age of 42, and I knew leaving this “miracle” child at home would tug on my heartstrings daily, and prove to be very uncomfortable for me.
During the mission, I came to know a different kind of “uncomfortable”. As a mother, I was uncomfortable seeing the canoes loaded with families (some with very small children and babies) coming to the villages to receive medical/dental help. I was extremely uncomfortable with the amount of babies (11, 12, 13 year olds) having babies. I was uncomfortable with the deplorable conditions that many of these children have to grow up in.
But, the most discomfort came for me, when I saw this little guy come to the dentist for help. He had an abscessed tooth and his mouth and face were obviously full of infection. He was sick…very sick! Of course, there was too much infection for the dentist to be able to pull the tooth, but he was able to administer antibiotics that could have very well saved this child’s life! The image of this precious child, grieved me for days to come.
I was reminded that we as Christians become comfortable. So many things come so easy for us. When our child is dirty, we have clean water to bathe him in. When our child is unhappy, we have a plethora of ways to entertain him. When our child is sick, there are doctors just around the corner. And when our child complains of being hot, we have air conditioned cars and homes to cool them.
And I was reminded that “to whom much is given, much is required.”
Come to the Amazon River with us in: March 23 – April 1st or July 27-Aug 5 of 2012. For more information e-mail us at email@example.com or call 813-264-8727
Our landlord (M) lives in the top floor of our apartment building with his family (he is in his 50’s and has several grown children and grandchildren). He and his family are Tibetan Buddhist and he is a religious leader in this community. One of the practices of Tibetan Buddhism is to spend time in deep, solitary meditation.
During this time the people are encouraged to empty themselves and fill themselves with spirits who will come inside (see: Matthew 12:43-45, as the Bible clearly warns against this) and possess their bodies and help them to reach nirvana/enlightenment. (M) is currently in his 3rdweek of a meditation that may last for up to 3 years (1 year minimum). During this time of meditation (M) lives in a very small Tibetan Buddhist worship room that he has made in his home (which is right above our home). It is full of golden idols and things that can be used for meditation and worship. (M) will not come out of the room for at least a year and up to 3 years (as long as it takes him to reach this enlightenment that he is seeking). He doesn’t leave the room to use the bathroom, to get food, to talk with his family, for no reason. He stays in the room in a meditative state.
Only 2 people are allowed to visit him: his son who is about 30 years old and the guard of our home who takes care of a lot of business items for him. They bring him his food, get rid of his waste, give him water to clean himself and they are able to speak a few words to him each time they enter but we have been told that they must only stay very important things.
All around him his grandkids are running around, his family is going about their day, his friends and family come to visit and he doesn’t take part in any of it. Basically to the family (M) is gone for several years. This brings up many, many thoughts in my heart and ultimately brings me sadness. It is so, so clear the bondage that (M) and his family are in and it breaks my heart that he has the opportunity to be free in Christ and yet he is choosing to live in slavery to the enlightenment that he is trying to obtain. My heart breaks for his family as they would love to be with him and to spend time with him but are unable to because he is locked away behind a door seeking for answers. Please pray with us for (M) and his family:
- Pray that (M) would find no hope and peace in the way that he is seeking enlightenment. Pray that our God would speak to Him mightily through this time. Pray that (M) would truly be seeking for truth and that the truth would set him free (John 8:32, Jeremiah 29:13)
- Pray for the salvation of (M) and his entire household (Acts 16:13-15)
Contributor: Missionary in Nepal (names not disclosed for security reasons)
*Join an Idlewild Team in 2012 as we minister in Nepal. For more information e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever found yourself having a conversation with a missionary and not knowing what questions to ask? Maybe if you knew “What questions not to ask” or “How to ask them” it would be helpful. Below are some comments from a missionary to Africa which might give you some pointers…
The five most common questions
June 13, 2011 by imbprayerdir
Since I’ve been home, it’s funny how the same questions keep coming up over and over and over again. Most of the time, I don’t mind answering. But, every now and then, I get really frustrated with these questions. And I know a lot of other returning missionaries get frustrated with them, too. So please hear my heart in this… we aren’t the same as we were when we left, and we don’t see things the same way, either. All that to say, here are the answers to those oh, so common questions….
1) How was your trip?
This question drives me crazy! It wasn’t a trip– it was a life. I lived there, bought groceries there, paid bills there, had a phone number there, and made friends there. When I moved there, I left behind a life I had built here, but when I came back home, I also left a life behind.
2) Did you learn to speak African?
I know this may be difficult for our English-speaking minds to wrap around, but everyone in Africa doesn’t speak the same language! There are over 50 “local” languages in one country alone. A lot of the time I did speak English, but English there isn’t like English here… “African English” has different phrasing, vocabulary, even a different cadence. I honestly had to re-learn how to speak English there! (And please don’t be surprised when African English works its way into my American conversations… it happens!)
3) What’s next?
I have no idea. I feel like God is calling me into some kind of missions work, but from the US-side of things. My heart is to help believers get involved in both local and international missions. Right now, I’m just looking for someone who wants to pay me a salary to do it… any takers???
4) Do you miss being there?
Power outages, dirty water, wandering livestock, and body odor? Absolutely not. Precious friends, piki-piki (motorcycle taxi) rides, hot tea in the shade, ripe mangoes, passionfruit, and pineapple? Every day.
5) Are you glad to get back to real life?
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s how this life we lead here in America really isn’t all that real. I don’t say that to sound pretentious or judgmental. I know that people here have real, day-in, day-out struggles. People here are hurting with real problems. But many Americans have no idea what life is like for people outside these United States. To not always know where your next meal is coming from, to choose between paying school fees for one child and buying life-saving medicine for another, to walk a mile each way just to bring home 5 gallons of water, or to simply sit under a tree with a friend and drink tea–that is real life.
(names $ locations omitted due to security issues)