In The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority there is a conversation between the late Adrian Rogers and Josef Tson, the revered Romanian pastor, author, and president of the Romanian Missionary Society. Pastor Tson survived years of persecution and exile under cruel Communist rule and was noted for his outstanding faithfulness to God, even during persecution. Adrian Rogers asked Dr. Tson for his perception of American Christianity.
After some hesitation, he replied, “Well, Adrian, since you have asked me, I’ll tell you. The key word in American Christianity is commitment.” Rather than being a positive thing, he saw it as an inadequate replacement of an older Christian teaching: surrender.
Tson described the difference, “When you make a commitment, you are still in control, no matter how noble the thing you commit to. One can commit to pray, to study the Bible, to give his money, or to commit to automobile payments, or to lose weight. Whatever he chooses to do, he commits to. But surrender is different. If someone holds a gun and asks you to lift your hands in the air as a token of surrender, you don’t tell that person what you are committed to. You simply surrender and do as you are told. . . . Americans love commitment because they are still in control. But the key word is surrender. We are to be slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is a good observation. The Bible calls us to surrender our lives to Jesus. To give up our wants, desires and dreams and to let Him replace them with His desires for us, His goals for our lives.
During the New Year season, it is fashionable to make resolutions. Even Christians do this, resolving to give more to Kingdom work, read the Bible more, pray longer, serve somewhere, etc… The problem is that, like resolutions of diet and exercise, somewhere in mid-February we have slipped back into old habits. We try to do better in our own power and this is impossible. Without God’s empowering Spirit, we cannot do anything. With Him, nothing is impossible.
My resolve this year is not to commit to anything other than surrendering to God’s Spirit, and letting Him control my life, my ministry, my service. Even to do that, I must yield to His power. What about you? Are you tired of trying and failing? Why don’t you also resolve to surrender, and ask for the power to let Him use you as He wills?
A collection of meaningful photos highlighted by the adoption of our little girl, finalized on December 14th! A fun trip to Colorado Springs where we visited Odyssey at Focus on the Family. Through the wardrobe to Narnia was a highlight of that trip. Various books of mine were either published or released in audio format, bringing my total of books written to 4. Of course, adopting Anaya, our newest “Gator Girl” was the best thing 2012 could have ever brought.
Merry Christmas. Here is the link for a free Kindle or Kindle for PC version of The Quest. It makes a great resource for church leaders and small groups.
Many times repentance is illustrated by having a person walk in one direction and then turn around and walk in the opposite direction. The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines “repent” as “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life”. Repentance is a change of mind and attitude that involves a conscious turning away from wrong actions, attitudes, thoughts and habits that conflict with a Godly lifestyle and biblical commands, and an intentional turning toward doing that which the Bible says pleases God.
As I reflect upon this, I find that many people do not do a 180 degree turn-around so much as they stop at 90 degrees. By this I mean that they stop doing what is wrong but do not replace it with what is right. One only needs to read the words of John the Baptist or the Apostle Paul to see how incomplete that is. The one who steals is to steal no longer but also to work and earn what he needs. Even more, he is to earn enough so that he has excess in order that he can give to those without so that they no longer are tempted to steal. One is to stop talking with a filthy mouth and bless and edify people instead. We are commanded to not only forgive our enemies but to pray that God blesses them, while blessing them ourselves.
In order to tell is a person is truly repentant, John the Baptist gives the definitive proof – do good works (produce fruit) in keeping with that repentance. Talk is cheap. One can pray seeking forgiveness for one’s wrongdoing but never obtain it because they have no intention of repenting. Repentance is often the forgotten aspect of salvation, in that we are not forgiven by God unless we come to Him with a repentant heart.
I.C. Herendeen says is well, when he states, ” For salvation, “repentance unto life” is just as necessary as is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. No sinner was ever pardoned while he remained impenitent, while he remained in rebellion against God and His authority, and without submitting himself whole-heartedly to His Lordship. This involves the realization in his heart, wrought therein by the Holy Spirit, of “the sinfulness of sin” (Rom 7:13), of the awfulness of ignoring the claims of God and of defying His authority. Repentance is a “holy horror and hatred of sin, a deep sorrow for it, a contrite acknowledgment of it before God, and a complete hear forsaking of it.To exhort sinners to be saved by “Accepting Christ as their Saviour” without pressing upon them the imperative necessity of repentance is dishonest, and is to falsify God’s terms of salvation, for “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 17:3) is the Divine dictum. The sinner must either repent or perish, there is no other alternative. And since “All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23) all therefore need to “repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15) else they will be “punished with everlasting destruction” (2Thess. 1:9). To delay repentance then is most perilous.”
I end these thoughts with the words of Charles Hodge, a great man of God. He says, “The sure test of the quality of any supposed change of heart will be found in its permanent effects. Whatever, therefore, may have been our inward experience, whatever joy or sorrow we may have felt, unless we bring forth fruits meet for repentance, our experience will profit us nothing. Repentance is incomplete unless it leads to confession and restitution in cases of injury; unless it causes us to forsake not merely outward sins, which others notice, but those which lie concealed in the heart; unless it makes us choose the service of God and live not for ourselves but for Him. There is no duty, which is either more obvious in itself, or more frequently asserted in the Word of God, than that of repentance.”
Let us take heed of the words of John the Baptist and truly repent of sin in our life.
Not what I expected to find for breakfast as I trolled the market in Yunnan
Snout for breakfast, anyone?
Ta Ethne would like to take the time to thank Now Jesus Ministries of Michigan for partnering with us. They have given a sizable donation which will enable us to go on mission to SE Asia early in 2013. This trip has been in the planning stages for almost 18 months and now it will become a reality. This will be our 6th trip into the area and it is exciting to see what was once an unreached people group hold baptism services for the many new believers coming to Christ. More and more are being discipled and taking the message to neighboring villages.
You can check out Now Jesus Ministries at http://www.nowjesus.org
The audiobook version of A Heart Hungry to Worship” is now available. It is out on Amazon now, and should be available on Itunes by the weekend.
Below is a link to a great article written by Randy Alcorn entitled, “How Great Evil Confirms the Biblical Teaching about Demons”. This is a well written article that is both timely and heartfelt. Please take the time to read and ponder it.
The success God has given us in 2012 has increased our anticipation for what He will allow us to do in 2013. With His help, we have lots of projects planned for the coming year. Trips to China (to work with church leaders) and possibly India (to work with the Victory Baptist Association) are in the planning stages. New resources, such as a personal Bible study on the book of Jude, a study guide for an expanded version of Is Jesus Enough?, and the completion of Consequences are in the works. There has been an increased interest in our seminar, Islam and the Future, and that will continue to be offered. People in over 60 countries have logged on to follow us in the 6 months we have operated Ta Ethne. We hope to expand our global presence even further.
We continue to do all of this by trusting in God to meet our needs. No one who works for us takes a salary, everyone volunteers their time and money. We give away hundreds of books and other resources because of the generosity of donors. Those resources we sell fund mission trips to support national church leaders. We are looking to raise $5000 USD for the trips to China and India. Would you pray that God would supply our needs? If He leads you to do so, would you consider a donation through Paypal on our website, http://www.discernmentministries.webs.com or by purchasing our books or audio resources?
Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to share God’s glory across the world.
The fountains spraying water accentuate the delicate statue of the flying Pegasus in Mengzhi China
Fountains and Flying Pegasus