Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brief Review Christmas til now

For those who read my blog and wonder what I do in Malawi, I assist my parents in a pentecostal Bible School, and orphan feeding program here in Malawi. Our Bible School is a 2 year course, with three 4 week terms a year, in February, June, and October. It is a certificate level course, most of our students lack the necessary prerequisites for anything further. We teach in English and have Chichewa interpretation, all of our course material is in both languages. The bad thing about a two year course is just as you get to really know some of your students and begin to appreciate what God is doing in their lives, it is time for them to graduate.
On the orphan feeding and other assistance, we have over 1800 orphans that we assist in various ways. We help out with school uniforms, and school fees for Secondary School (Primary is free, but not Secondary), housing repair (This is done mostly from August-December when it is dry season, most of the houses are mud bricks with mud mortar, when the roof begins to leak pretty soon a wall will collapse), we also distribute food for part of the year. This time of year is the hardest as the next crop has not yet come in, and the existing harvest dwindles (the harvest will be end of March and beginning of April). We have had many daily requests for assistance, and it can get very overwhelming at times.
We recently fired one of our workers for theft. He was someone that we had known for several years and had helped out in the past. Also at the same time we had another man (former employee and Bible school student) who was staying on our property looking after our water pump, leave in the middle of the night taking the pump, the door from the house (not the security gate, he couldn’t get that off), and almost of the contents in the house he was staying in. Where he was staying is outside of our walled compound and more than 200 meters away so we didn’t hear anything. One other thing that was stolen (human greed is almost farcical, and would be funny if it weren’t so tragic) he took the lock off the outhouse we had made for him. I really fear for him, because he has heard a lot of the truth and yet has done this. We did not renew his work with us a few months ago because he had pilfered a packet or two of the beans that we distribute to orphans. He was caught and apologized, but we didn’t really sense any repentance. He was hired on a year agreement and when it came up we were going to let him go. Around the same time he had a reoccurrence of TB, and had to be hospitalized for two months. When he got out he was too weak to do what he had formerly been doing, so we could not take him back even if we had been minded to. We did however let him continue to stay where he had been staying, rent free, because even though you might have the right to turn someone out, how can you do it, when they are seriously ill like that? I really fear for him, I was worried about him before this happened because I didn’t think he had really repented for his earlier theft and with his being ill, I don’t think he has a lot of time, now he has compounded it. May God grant him repentance!
On another note, Bible school is approaching and things are busy on all fronts. We are hoping that the revealing of these thefts and some other exposing of sin that has recently happened around us will put a real fear of God in this area. May God grant it so!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts on Third John 1:11

“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”

In this verse the Apostle John shows us that we are shown to be good or evil not only by what we initiate in doing, but also in what we imitate. The immediate context is a church situation in which one man, Diotrephes, was asserting his own authority by undermining John’s and in a high-handed manner generally lording it over the flock of God. John writes to Gaius concerning this situation and asks him to look after a man whom he was sending to this area, since Diotrephes had not allowed the church to respond to John’s letter which he had already written (for anyone who has been in a church situation for any length of time this scenario should seem somewhat familiar). This verse is a good reminder to all Christians. We may be in a situation where there are leaders who lead from self-seeking motives (I thank God that I can say that’s not my situation, but I have seen enough to know that it is more common than may be realized). Our choice is in who we imitate. God may have placed me under a person, I should not rebel nor should I leave unless God gives me a release. However, nothing in Scripture tells me I have to follow a bad example. The people whom I follow, idolize, and imitate tell much about my own character. Proverbs 3:31 tells us, “Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.”

God allows men of varying character to have positions in the church to test us. Do we also have selfish ambition? Would we also use others for our own gain or would we rather as Christ lay down our lives for others? Who we make our hero shows who we are.

I remember reading an article about a certain Christian rock group. They were asked who their role models were. I do not remember all the names they mentioned, but their first choice was, “the Beatles.” Let’s be honest, choosing a group that directly exalted themselves against Christ is a dead give-away about both your own motives and your moral compass. Clearly you value ability and talent over character. Everyone of us has been granted some measure of ability, talent and position of leadership by God. Our test is very simple, do we use our talent for God, or abuse it to usurp glory, fame, wealth, etc… for ourself (even if like Diotrephes, we do it in a church). The one is the way of Christ, the other the way of Lucifer. Who is our role model? Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good!

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Sufficiency Of The Word Of God

Since this is my first post of the new year, I thought it would be good to look at the power of the Word of God. It is after all why I write. If I did not believe that God’s Word had power to accomplish, then there would be no reason for or point in my writing. The Word of God produces faith as it is heard and received (Rom. 10:17). Since the Word of God precedes all response on our part, it makes God the initiator and cause of everything of eternal worth. The Word of God is also able to build us up and Give us a rich inheritance (Acts 20:32).
The prophet Jeremiah gives a very interesting description of God’s Word in Jeremiah 23:28-29, “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”

This portion of Scripture is dealing with specifically with the difference between true and false prophecy, but it can be extrapolated to show the difference between God’s Word in general and the words of all others. The first thing it mentions is that we should speak God’s Word faithfully if we have it. We must not dilute or adulterate it, but give it as close as we can to how it came to us. Next it encouraged Jeremiah with the ultimate triumph of God’s Word. He was surrounded by false prophets with a message opposite to what God had spoken to him. God said, “What is the chaff to the wheat?” The chaff may be with the wheat for a time, but when the winnowing comes it is removed by the wind, because it has no solid true substance. The wheat however remains. God’s Word, his true Word, has substance and it will remain no matter the circumstance. The chaff of man’s ideas, hopes and dreams will be swept away sooner or later.

Not only is God’s Word stable in all circumstances, but it alters circumstances, in the same way that fire alters that which it touches and like the hammer that breaks the rock. When there is opposition to God’s Word, the Word will remain and the opposition will not. Either it will change or it will break.

This leads to the next thought contained in Scripture which is our response to God’s Word. Paul rejoiced because the Thessalonians had received God’s Word as God’s Word, not as man’s word (1 Thess. 2:13). God’s Word works effectively for our good when we receive it as His Word and obey it, any other response produces a curse in our life. Noah believed and received God’s Word and obeyed it, thus he was raised in the ark by the same water that drowned those who did not believe. They had taken Noah’s preaching as the words of man and perished because of it.

We are further told to in James, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” We need to submit to the Word of God when it comes. Mankind is proud and does not desire to admit our need of help. God’s Word is directly opposed to this and it works to our good when we acknowledge that God knows best and receive whatever He says, even though it might be against what we would naturally think. It mentions “engrafted” in this verse. That carries an interesting thought, a graft is a branch that is foreign to the tree in which it is placed and produces fruit from its parent. However it is nurtured by the tree into which it is grafted. God’s Word is foreign to us and contrary to our nature, but when we receive it and give it a place in our hearts it grows and produces His fruit – the fruit of the Spirit, Praise God!