One of the cardinal beliefs we hold about God is that He is all-knowing. That means that He knows everything that you or I will ever do. He knows this in advance from the day you were born, stretching into infinity. One of the ramifications of this is that He can never be disappointed in us. Disappointment, by definition, means to be discouraged or saddened by the failure to live up to hopes, dreams or expectations. Since God knows everything we will ever do in advance, He cannot be disappointed by our failures, simply because He isn’t expecting us to do anything other than He already knows we will do.
He knows these things, and yet loves us anyway. We can sadden Him, grieve Him, anger Him – but we will not disappoint Him. This is both exhilarating and sobering. It is exhilarating because I don’t have to carry around a false sense of guilt of causing Him disappointment. It is sobering, though, when I realize He couldn’t expect better from me because He already knew when and where I would fail.
The amazing thing of all this is that is shows God’s grace standing above all. Despite knowing my failures in advance, He still calls me to ministry. He still empowers me. He still loves me.
One of the other things you can’t do to God is surprise Him. That, though, will be a subject for another day. Praise God for His omniscience.
Some years ago, when I was teaching at Yellowstone Baptist College, I had the privilege of having Grace Halland in my class. Grace was an exceptional student, with a passion for sharing the gospel and God’s Word. How pleased I was to learn of her plans to follow up Bible school by working with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Grace is now in Entebbe, Uganda, working with the translation teams.
This work is critical. The ability to get God’s Word into the hands of those who need to hear its life-changing message, in their own language, is priceless. I enjoy receiving Grace’s newsletter, as she not only keeps us informed of her work, but also of her life. It is rewarding to see her growth in the Lord, the maturing of her spirituality as she labors for the Kingdom. It is humbling to know that she has given her life to the people of Uganda – not just in translation work, but by adopting children and making a home there. It is satisfying to know that in a very, very small way, I was able to be part of her life, in the time God was speaking to her, calling her to this life of service.
We never know what impact we have on others. We never know how we will influence a person – not just for good or bad, but also in a large way or a small way. God takes all of those influences and works His work in the lives of His children. I am proud of Grace and the work of all Wycliffe translators. I am proud that God enabled me to meet her and spend time with her during her senior year. I do not for a minute take even the smallest part of credit for anything God has done or will do through Grace. It is I that have been influenced by her and her faithfulness.
Lift her up in prayer alongside me. Write to her through wycliffe.org and get to know this amazing person. Look around, God may place you in the path of one of His servants and the relationship you make will be eternal.
Eerily similar to our generation, the days of Noah offer us insight into the coming judgment of God upon our world.
Podcast – Ta Ethne.
|In the days of the Apostles, it was dangerous to follow Jesus… Today that danger remains.
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In repentance, a person is not only moved by godly sorrow over actions that offend and displease God to confess them, asking forgiveness, but to also turn from those sins. The New Testament talks about replacing those ungodly actions with their godly opposites. Beyond that, though, the New Testament command us to begin ministering in Jesus’ name in that same area. For example, Paul tells those who are guilty of stealing to not only stop stealing but to work for what they want. Then he goes further and commands them to work until they have an overabundance so that they can share with others who are in need. In another example, we are told to let no unwholesome or ungodly, corrupt speech come from our mouth. Then we are told to replace it with what it is good, giving praise and glory to God. Beyond replacing bad speech with good, we are told to use our speech to edify or build up our fellow believers.
This is the essence of true repentance. Merely feeling sorry and confessing isn’t repentance. Neither is simply replacing the bad with good. It is going beyond and changing habits, starting new ones that advance the cause of Christ that show repentance has taken place. When that occurs we get off the merry-go-round of confessing, crying, promising to do better and spending next week confessing, crying and promising the same old things. We are now doing something positive for God’s Kingdom, ministering to others, changing our lifestyle to reflect that of Christ.
How repentant of your sins are you?
One ministry we have had the privilege of corresponding with is that of Berean Bible Baptist Church in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, Philippines. From youth camps to world missions conferences, this ministry reaches out constantly to people who need to hear the gospel. Under the leadership of Pastor Janel Nemeno, they have grown to be shining example of faithfulness. Last year we cried with them as their building burned to the ground. The photos can be seen here: http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/207486_210905172268735_7362425_n.jpg
We rejoiced with them this year, seeing a new building rising from the ashes, due in part to generous donations from fellow believers all across the globe. Pictures of their new building can be seen here: http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/c100.0.403.403/p403x403/560415_414485561910694_2010413349_n.jpg
This ministry never lost a beat during the loss. Services and ministries continued to grow and God has blessed them greatly. A Christian academy and a bible college are just 2 of their many ministries. They have sent out missionaries to start many churches throughout the region from the very beginnings of their church. You can read more about this church here: Janel Nemeno – Info – Overview Would you continue to pray for this ministry? Lift up this pastor and his family and pray the Lord’s blessings on their commitment to not only sharing the gospel, but also on their commitment to training Christian leaders and the sending out of missionaries.
Wonderful story … had to share
Vast stretches of farmland roll into the horizon, broken by silos and the occasional herd of mule deer. Welcome to the southern edge of Alberta and Saskatchewan. From Lethbridge to Swift Current, we have been able to meet with people starting churches in cities both large and small. As one travels along the highways, one realizes that there are many smaller towns without an evangelical witness, some without a witness at all, evangelical or otherwise. Southern Canada is far from the Bible belt and a different culture from America altogether. Although very similar in lifestyle to Montana, where we are based at, there are enough differences for one to realize very quickly that approaches to starting churches in Canada must be different than they are in the States.
The believers in Canada are doing a wonderful job – they just are small in number compared to the overall population. There are a large number of immigrants arriving annually, a great number from Asia. These immigrants are seeking a better life filled with opportunity. How wonderful it would be if mature Asian Christians were in place to meet them and introduce them not only to Canadian life, but to Jesus Christ?
Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to raise up workers to go into the fields of Western Canada and establish churches that will reach those coming to seek a new life with a new life in Christ. Pray for us, that as invitations come, we will be faithful to encourage, uplift, and resource the believers there with what they need to continue spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Being a pastor in Montana means many different things to me. Since arriving in 1995, I have served churches in Red Lodge, Columbus and Havre. Being a pastor in Montana means unloading trucks outside at work at 4:30 in the morning in -40°F weather so that the church can still afford to have a pastor. It means reaching out to people who have never heard basic Bible stories such as Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath or the real Christmas story.
Pastoring in Montana means enduring weeks of loneliness, isolated by geography and finances from family, friends and even other pastors. It means driving hours to conferences for the fellowship with friends and the opportunity to sharpen ones skills. It means penetrating reclusive lives and investing time into communities. It means sharing your home with people from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds. It means being vulnerable and authentic and living a transformed life in front of a watching world.
Pastoring in Montana means that you start laying the foundation for future works to take place. Very quickly you learn that there is no prestige, no glory, no “bigger” church to aspire to. What there is, is plenty of is hard work, years of discipleship, mentoring, teaching and engaging. There is the joy of seeing a second generation come to know and serve the Lord. There is the joy of seeing families and marriages being put back together. There is the satisfaction of establishing stability and credibility in a community that is constantly watching to see if your Christianity is real. There is the awesome exhilaration that comes from seeing new believers mature and go out in service for the kingdom, taking the gospel to yet another place that needs to hear it.
Being a pastor in Montana is a tale of two extremes. It is a tale of hardships and frustration and of rapture and joy. It will cause you to grow closer to God than you thought possible because there is no one else around for you to turn to. It will drive you to your knees over and over seeking strength, guidance and wisdom. It will also lead you to give God all the credit because only He could possibly penetrate the darkness and hardened hearts of those who do not know Him.
Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Seminary, sums up what I think being a pastor in Montana is all about when he says in his book, The Painful Side of Leadership, “Most leaders easily forget their primary reason for being placed in their leadership role. The primary reason isn’t for you to do things for God. It’s so God can use your leadership setting as a laboratory for shaping the image of Jesus in you.
I pray that the image that is being shaped in me, as I pastor in Montana, is that of Jesus Christ.
 Iorg, Jeff. The Painful Side of Leadership. P12. B&H Publishing Group 2009
Here at Ta Ethne we salute companies that see their work as a ministry for God rather than for making profit. Not that making profit is wrong. After all, if one doesn’t make a profit, one cannot stay in business. We salute those who see the reason for their business as being a vehicle or platform to extend works of mercy and ministry in God’s name to others. One such business is DaMory Diapers (www.damorydiapers.com). This small business does big Kingdom work. They manufacture cloth diapers, which are good for the environment and for babies. More than that, though, is the fact that they give away new diapers to local crisis pregnancy centers, give discounts to clergy families and discounts to those in financial need. Many times they donate almost as many diapers as they sell in a month. The reason – by sharing with those in need, it builds relationships and opens the door to sharing the gospel.
When a company or business sees itself as an instrument of God’s Kingdom, God blesses them with the ability to continue to impact others. Let us know of other businesses that see themselves as ministers of the gospel so we can salute them too.