Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Second Thought

For many years I had been critical of America and particularly, the church in America. I enjoyed touting my convictions about how self absorbed and materialistic they were. And we are. But then I went to India. India boasts a roughly one billion total population, 81% of whom are Hindu. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion where many gods, over 30,000, are believed in and worshiped. In Hinduism, even Jesus is ok. He is just one of many gods.

After going to India, I had a better appreciation and understanding of my Judeo-Christian roots. I began to understand for the first time in my life how these roots greatly impacted, influenced, and shaped my life and the life of our country. I saw the real value of a monotheistic heritage; where the principles of absolutes, and a truth that endures for a lifetime, are taught and esteemed. Polytheism has many gods; therefore, truth is subjective and defined by the whim of the god at hand. The lack of absolutes, and the idea that truth is subjective, leads to ambivalence, which leads to hopelessness, which leads to despair.

I felt true conviction over my attitude towards my heritage. I could only see what was wrong with our country and, more specifically the church in America. The truth is we have been blessed in this country. Most of us can’t even imagine living under a communist or totalitarian regime. We can’t imagine living in a place where parents sell their young girls to brothels, where the dead are left in the streets, where tribal conflicts never cease, where rape is used as a weapon of war, where millions sleep on dirt floors with no heat or clean water. As a country, we have known peace for the most part. We have known abundance and comfort, and especially freedom. I believe this is in large part due to the Judeo-Christian roots upon which our country was founded.

This is not to say we don’t have our problems. We absolutely do have them, both country and church! In fact, I believe the church will be the first to be disciplined by our Lord. We have been absorbed INTO the culture rather than bearing influence ON the culture. The church looks like the world. We are materialistic and self absorbed when we are supposed to be salt and light. We have a President-Elect who campaigned and won promising change under the banner of hope. The church has the greatest hope of all offering real and permanent change. Why have we not rallied the country to this hope? We have lost our way and followed our own. And even though I believe the church in America is in serious trouble, I still love her. She has great potential! When the Lord brings His discipline it will be out of His great love for us. He will treat us as true sons and daughters. The book of Hebrews tells us that the Lord disciplines those whom He loves. It also tells us that this discipline is for our good, so that we may share in His holiness. He is long suffering and patient; however, He is resolved that we share in His holiness, and that we be salt and light to the world. He will not tarry forever.

As you gather with your family and friends this Thanksgiving, stop to ponder the heritage you have received, out of no merit of your own mind you. Don’t just over eat. Don’t just go shopping and to the movies. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Don’t worry about the stock market. Don’t complain. Don’t be selfish. Give Thanks and praise to our God, who for some reason unbeknownst to us, blessed us with a Judeo-Christian heritage. And more than that, “He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus!” I hope you have a most joyful Thanksgiving and that it is filled with His presence, for in His presence is fullness of joy.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Incense for India

I cannot easily forget a few years back standing outside a Mosque and an Islamic university in Northern India. We were on top of a large hill in the foothills of the Himalayas. From the top of the hill, and through an afternoon mist, you could look down into the city swarming with people busily taking care of daily affairs.

The local contact, who is now a friend, suggested we try something. Upon his suggestion, we began to engage people who were exiting the mosque in conversation. At some point in the conversation we would raise the question, “Do you know who Jesus is?” We would pose this question in three different languages to ensure that it was understood. As we engaged those around us, we were unable to find one person who had even heard of the name Jesus. We did find a young Muslim student who said he thought he knew him and asked if he lived in a nearby city.

It was overwhelming to be in a place surrounded by people and unable to find just one person who could recall hearing the name of Jesus. It was startling to look down on that city and understand, to the best of our knowledge, that this people group of more than two million could boast only six known believers. It became understandable why this region is constantly harassed by war and unrest. Without the Prince of Peace there is no peace!

I was moved that day to pray for these people. I also prayed that God would allow us to somehow be a part of what He was doing there. Now, some years later, there have been 150 new underground congregations started there. These are small house churches that have become quite bold in their proclamation of the gospel, even in a very hostile environment. Some of the leaders of this movement have lost their lives for this bold proclamation of a new kingdom come. The worker that ATC helps support continues to hammer away, training more and more leaders each year. What a privilege and thrill it is to be a part, even though small, of a powerful move of God in that place. God has answered prayer!

This week there is an ATC team in that same city. They will evangelize among a desperate people. They will teach a hungry base of leadership. They will continue to discover what God is doing and how we can be a part of it. Please join us in praying for them. I believe this is close to the heartbeat of God. We can pray in this direction with faith, believing our prayers to be incense before the throne of the Almighty One. He will answer!