Friday, February 27, 2009

Be Still and Know God: Four Disciplines For Christians

"How busy we have become... and as a result how empty!" writes Charles R. Swindoll, in his little gem, Intimacy with the Almighty. "We have made ourselves very complicated."

In this small book of great truths for hurried and harried Christians, Swindoll expounds on four disciplines, based on four decisions, that can help us cultivate an in-depth relationship with the Almighty God.

The 4 disciplines:

1. Simplicity

2. Silence

3. Solitude

4. Surrender

The 4 decisions:

1. To reorder one's private world

2. To be still

3. To cultivate serenity

4 To trust the Lord completely

"Nothing under his control can ever be out of control," Swindoll writes. "When I keep my hands out of things, his will is accomplished, his name is exalted, and his glory is magnified."

As we finish another week of work, and begin another Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath that God wisely established at creation for all of us, let us celebrate his great glory and magnificent creative power. Let us, thoughtfully and joyfully, take the time, given us by God, to rest in him, so that he might truly work in us and through us.

I recommend spending an hour or two reading and heeding this little classic, as you also meditate on God's Word.

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathens, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10 (King James Version of the Bible)


Charles R. Swindoll, Intimacy with the Almighty: Encountering Christ in the Secret Places of Your Life, Dallas, Texas: Word Puplishing, 1996, 80 pages, including 2 pages of endnotes.

Other pertinent books cited by Swindoll:

Bennett, Arthur, ed., The Valley of Vision, Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975.

Edmon, V. Raymond, The Disciplines of Life, Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press, 1948.

Foster, Richard J., Celebration of Discipline, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978.

Kelly, Thomas, A Testament of Devotion, New York, Harper & Row Publishers, 1941.

Nouwen, Henri J. M., The Way of the Heart, New York: Seabury Press, 1981

Solzhenitsyn, Alexandr, The Gulag Archipelego, translated by Thomas P. Whitney, Harper & Row Publishers, 1973.

Tozer, A. W. (Aidan Wilson Tozer), The Divine Conquest, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, 1950.

A. W.Tozer's Seven Thing's That Define Who We Are

Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963), a great Christian and Missionary Alliance preacher and devotional writer, developed a list of seven things that define and shape who we are. Tozer himself was said, by one early biographer, to have spent more time on his knees than at his desk. Here is the challenging and defining list:

1. What we want most

2. What we think about most

3. How we use our money

4. What we do with our leisure time

5. The company we enjoy

6. Whom and what we admire

7. What we laugh at

How do you stack up? Are you serving yourself, your own pleasure and your materialistic quests? Or do you have a passion for God, and for his kingdom and glory?

A. W. Tozer books still available in print at budget prices:

The Pursuit of God
The Knowledge of the Holy
God's Pursuit of Man
Tozer: Mystery of the Holy Spirit
Keys to a Deeper Life
Man: The Dwelling Place of God
I Talk Back to the Devil
The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship

Acknowledgement: The seven definers are from a handout of Garri George shared at a Youth For Christ luncheon, in Anderson, Indiana Feb. 25, 2009. Garri George is the Executive Director of East Central Indiana Youth for Christ/Campus Life. Youth for Christ's Vision/Mission Statement: "As part of the body of Christ, our vision is to see every young person in every people group in every nation have the oppotunity to make an informed decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ and become a part of a local church." Youth for Christ's mission is "to participate in the body of Christ in responsible evangelism of youth, presenting them with the person, work, and teachings of Christ, and discipling them into a local church."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Over 2,000 Languages Still Need Bible Translations

There are almost 7,000 languages spoken today around the globe. Over 2,000 of these languages, representing almost 200 million people, await Bible translation.

One organization, The Seed Company, has a goal of beginning the translation of the Bible in 200 more languages within three years. The goal is to complete the translations in the heart language of the people, by partnering with others, such as national colleagues, other organizations, investors, and prayer networks.

Those of us who live in western countries, blessed with multiple translations of the Bible, can, through The Seed company, partner with those who have had no portion of Scripture at all in their tongue.

The Seed Company, an affiliate of Wycliffe Bible Translators, has offices in Arlington, Texas (headquarters) and Santa Ana, California. The webpage incudes a "prayer focus" link, to facilitate prayer for unreached peoples whose languages are targeted for Scripture translation.

To get involved in the project, go to:

or phone: 817-557-2121 or 714-549-SEED
or toll free: 877-593-7333

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Water, water... but not a drop to drink: the dire water-supply problem!

In certain areas of Africa and Asia, four-fifths (4/5ths) of all illnesses are caused by waterborne diseases.

Diarrhea, caused by drinking dirty and contaminated water, is the leading cause of childhood deaths in these parts of the world.

Local river or trench water, so polluted you wouldn't even want to bathe in it, may often be the only drinking water available to the poor in the developing world, and in areas wracked by wars, genocide, famines, and natural disasters.

One partial solution might be the use of simple water filters, which can be constructed locally for about $15 USD, using entirely local materials.

Seven Specific Commands of Christ

George Patterson, a missionary for many years in northern Honduras with the Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society, developed an obedience-oriented T.E.E. (theologic education-by-extension) program, which trained pastoral students on the job. These students then planted and pastored over 100 churches.

Those new to the faith and to the church, memorized seven of Christ's main commands, with accompanying Scripture texts. Many of these indiginous, new believers were illiterate, when they turned to Christ, so had to memorize the Scriptures, then share them with others, rather than just share by reading the texts.

The seven commands of Christ, with the Bible texts, are these:

1. Repent and believe Mark 1:15
2. Be baptized Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:38
3. Love John 13:34, Matthew 22:37-40
4. Celebrate the Lord's Supper Luke 22:17-20
5. Pray John 16:34, Matthew 6:5-15
6. Give Matthew 16:19-21, Luke 6:38
7. Witness Matthew 28:18-20

Patterson also distinguishes three levels of authority, of which we also would be wise to differentiate and prioritize:

1. God's command's (have all the authority of heaven)
2. Apostolic practices (not commanded, but have the authority of example)
3. Human customs (a congregation is united in agreement on a paricular tradition)

Most church divisions develope, sadly, because 2nd and 3rd level practices are treated as if they were first-order commands.


Patterson, George, "The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches," in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, Ralph D. Winter and Stephen C. Hawthorne, editors, Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1981, revised edition 1992

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Malaria Is A Real Global Health Challenge, But Tens Of Millions Of Deaths Can Be Prevented!

Malaria kills 1-2 million people annually. Deaths primarily occur in children. A third of all deaths worldwide in children under age 5 are from malaria. Pregnant women are also at higher risk of death from malaria. About 90% ot the deaths from malaria are in Africa. Between 300 and 500 million people get malaria annually.

When people are ill from Malaria they have difficulty working, and usually are a big burden on their family, and other caregivers as well.

We now know, from computerized analyses done by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers, and from other studies, that environmental control is probably as important as bednets and the new vaccines (now in trials being done in Africa), in reducing malaria. For example, spreading ground-up seeds from neem trees, which grow in Africa, on the ponds and standing water can reduce mosquito populations by about 50%. Using simple shovels and plows, to fill in or reduce the size of ponds, also help significantly. Plant derived pesticides also help. Bed nets can also be treated with pesticide to improve their effectiveness. Some countries are again using DDT (an organochlorine pesticide) with success and fairly low risk. DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, except for use in public health emergencies, like the outbreak of malaria or typhus, because it has EPA class II toxicity (moderate toxicity).

Bill Gates retired last year as the head of Microsoft to focus on the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of the foundations main projects is ending malaria. The foundation is spending millions on fighting disease and reducing deaths caused by malaria. In September 2008 Gates announced that the foundation will provide 168 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Two vaccines for malaria are now in late stage trials in Africa and the results so far look promising. The U.S. Government, under the previous Bush administration, also has given a long term commitment, and funding, to fight, not only AIDS, but also malaria, in Africa.

One campaign is asking for a million people to get involved in the malaria fight. Tens of millions of deaths from malaria can be prevented they hope.

Deaths can be prevented by use of simple $5 bednets, inexpensive shovels, old-fashioned DDT, and the vaccines now being developed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

President Lincoln, Man of Faith and Prayer: Born 200 Years Ago

Many consider Abraham Lincoln to have been America's greatest president. He was born February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky, and died at age 56, on April 15, 1865. He died from an assassin's bullet in Washington, D.C., shortly after the end of the Civil War and five months after his reelection as President.

His parents were Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His family moved from Kentucky to Indiana in 1816, and from Indiana to Illinois in 1830. He was the first president born beyond the boundaries of the original 13 states, the first president who was assassinated, and the first Republican president.

His was not an easy life. His father was abusive and barely literate. He lost his mother when he was 9 years old. His baby brother, older sister, and two sons also died. His wife suffered from mental illness. He lived in poverty, was self-taught (he had less than 2 years of schooling), and was homely and gangling. Lincoln worked as a ferry operator, a flatboat pilot, an enlisted soldier, a partner in an unsuccessful merchandise business, a postmaster, and a lawyer. He was admitted to the bar in 1837. He was an excellent wrestler.

He failed in his bid for public office several times: to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1832, to the U.S. Senate from Illinois on the Whig ticket in 1855, to be the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1856, and to the U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket in 1858 (just two years before his election as the first Republican president in 1860). He was not liked much during his two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives because he opposed the Mexican War, and because he was considered a amusingly odd westerner of only average talent. His opposition to the war lost him his congressinal seat. His political failures and losses, however, prepared him to be a better president, a presidency he won with a mere 39% of the vote, as the Democrats split their vote.

Lincoln was a man of faith in God. Although he apparently never belonged to any denomination, he attended for over 10 years, the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, pastored by his friend, Rev. James Smith. After becoming President, he frequented a number churches in Washington, D. C., often more than one on a Sunday.

A small book of Scripture and poetry, containing the signature "A. Lincoln," and discovered in 1957, is evidence of his deep faith. He carried this book, The Believer's Daily Treasure; or Texts of Scripture arranged for every day in the year, in his vest pocket. The book had been published in 1852 in London by The Religious Tract Society as a 4th edition. He probably read it as he travelled the Old Eighth Circuit, and later, during the Civil War, as commander-in-chief.

Lincoln read the Bible throughout his life, often quoting it in conversation and in public addresses, and referring to it frequently in his letters. His famous Gettysburg (1863), Second Inaugural (1865), and House Divided (1858) speeches, and many other speeches contain Scripture and references to the Almighty God and the Heavenly Father. He used the name of Jesus in his private and public speech, and seems to be the only president to cite the Holy Spirit in a proclamation.

Several writers and historians have refuted the idea that he was anything but an orthodox Christian, who held to the tenets of historical Christianity (see the reference list). He exhibited Christian virtues of forgiveness, magnanimity, generosity, compassion, courage, honesty, self-control, warm humor, devotion, zeal, patience, and humility. Historian Michael Burlingame, author or editor of 12 books on Lincoln, says, "He was able to rise above the tyranny of the ego which most of us suffer from."

A 19th century author, Allen T Rice, wrote of Lincoln, "His sense of humor never flagged. Even in his telegraphic correspondence with his generals we have instances of it." One of his favorite humorists, he enjoyed reading, sometimes to his staff, was the writer Charles F Browne (pseudonym Artemus Ward).

He and his family owned several Bibles. He cherished the Scriptures, proclaiming: "In regard to this great book, I have but to say it is the best gift God has given to man." He told his friend, L. L. Crittenden, "I decided a long time ago that it was less difficult to believe the Bible was what it claimed to be than to disbelieve it."

In the Washington Cathedral in Washington, D.C., is a statue of Lincoln in an attitude of prayer, done by the sculpturer Herbert Spencer Houck. Houck's grandfather, while walking the fields near the Battle of Gettysburg, had once found Lincoln kneeling in the leaves. This picture of Lincoln, passed on verbally from grandfather to grandson, was the inspiration for Hauck's statue, "Lincoln in Prayer."

Rev. Willard Davis, in a great and important sermon, "Was Abraham Lincoln Really a Christian?" preached in 1989, 20 years ago, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, quotes Lincoln: "When I went to Springfield I wasn't a Christian... When I went to Gettysburg I wasn't a Christian. But there at Gettysburg I consecrated my life to Christ." Rev. Davis goes on to say that the day that he came to know Christ was November 19, 1863 (probably the same day Houck's grandfather found him kneeling in the leaves of the fields of Gettysburg). Davis relates that his subsequent Second Inaugural Address reads like a sermon, much more than his pre-conversion speeches do. Davis claims, based on his studies, that Lincoln was planning to join the Presbyterian Church on Sunday just several days after he was shot and killed. At the time he was shot at Ford Theater he was telling his wife they should take a trip to the Holy Land, "We could go up to Jeru..." He never got to finish the word "Jerusalem"

On the 200th Anniversary of his birth, let us remember the humble Abraham Lincoln, who rose above a life of hardships and sorrows to become one of the greatest U.S. Presidents-a president who acknowledged and trusted God, read His Word, and was in frequent prayer.

References used to prepare this blog:

Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writing, Roy P. Bassler editor, Kraus-Thompson, 1968 (1st published 1946)

Abraham Lincoln's Daily Treasure: Moments of Faith with America's Favorite President, edited by Thomas Freiling, Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell (a division of Baker Book House), 2002

Facts About the Presidents: From Washington to Johnson, Joseph Nathan Kane, NY: Pocket Books, 1960, 1964

Great Speeches/ Abraham Lincoln: With Historical Notes by John Grafton, NY: Dover Publications, 1991

Vindicating Lincoln: Defending the Politics of Our Greatest, Krannawitter, Thomas

Lincoln's Devotional: Introduction by Carl Sandburg, Great Neck, NY: Channel Press, 1957 (from my father's library & containing his signature)

Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time, Allen T. Rice, New York, 1886, 1909.

The Life of Abraham Lincoln for Boys and Girls, Charles W. Moores, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1900, illustrated

The Hidden Lincoln, Emmanuel Hertz, editor, 1938 (Law partner of Lincoln, William H. Herndon's letters and papers relating to Lincoln, edited by Hertz)

The Lincoln Reader, Paul M. Angle, editor, Greenwood, 1981

For Further Research about Lincoln's Spiritual Life:

Barton, William, The Soul of Lincoln, 1920

Fox, Dr. G. George, Abraham Lincoln's Religion

Jones, Edgar DeWitt, Lincoln and the Preachers

Olasky, Marvin, The American Leadership Tradition

Wolf, William J., The Almost Chosen People: A Study of the Religion of Abraham Lincoln

Go to the website of the "HAVEN Today" radio program, if you would like to obtain Pastor Willard Davis' 1989 sermon, "Was Abraham Lincoln really a Christian," preached at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, Maryland:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Pursuit of Holiness

Christian sanctification can be defined as the pursuit of holiness. Strong's Concordance lists holiness as a synonym of godliness. W. E. Vine defines godliness as "that piety which is characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is pleasing to Him."

False religions may have piety, ethics, and altruism, but no godliness and holiness (blamelessness before God). The ethics or altruism of the common or natural man may cause him to do the right thing, but not do it unto God (not to the glory of God).

Sanctification is both positional (Hebrews 10:14) and practical (Colossians 1:21).

In our ignorance we underestimate our sinful nature, as well as the greatness and glory of God. The poet Robert Browning, once said that ignorance is not innocence, but sin.

Richard Baxter, the great Puritan pastor and writer showed that we fight sin both offensively and defensively:
1) Offensively - we fight sin in ourselves, others, and the world.
2) Defensively - we fight against ignorance, doubts, hardness of heart, and worldliness.

"Implements" needed to put to death the sin in our lives:
1) The Word of God
2) Prayer
3) The Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit)

Two things we must have in our fight against sin and for holiness:
1) Conviction
2) Commitment

How can we know right from wrong. We should ask 4 questions, based on the book of 1 Corinthians in the Bible:
1) Is it helpful? 1 Corinthians 6:12
2) Does it bring me under its power? 1 Corinthians 6:12
3) Does it hurt others? 1 Corinthians 8:13
4) Does it glorify God? 1 Corinthians 10:31

A disciplined intake of the Word of God involves a planned time and a planned method. The method involves:
1) hearing the Word of God from pastors and teachers (Jeremiah 3:15)
2) reading the Bible (Deuteronomy 17:19)
3) studying the Scripture (Proverbs 2:1-5)
4) memorizing key Scriptures (Psalm 119:11)
5) meditating on Scripture (Joshua 1:8)
6) application -obedience to the Scripture ( James 1:22)
7) perseverance (Proverbs 24:16)

Primary Reference:

Bridges, Jerry, The Pursuit of Holiness, Colorado Springs: Navipress, 1978 ff.

Other References:
Adams, Jay E., Godliness through Discipline, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973
Baxter, Richard, The Reformed Pastor, Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983 (reprint of 1656 Puritan classic)
Bridges, Jerry, The Practice of Godliness, Colorado Springs: Navipress (sequel to Pursuit of Holiness)
Bridges, Jerry, Respectable Sins
Owen, John, Temptation and Sin, Evansville, Indiana: Sovereign Grace Books, 1958 (reprint of 1656 Puritan classic, Indwelling Sin)
Pink, A.W., The Doctrine of Sanctification, Swengel, Pennsylvania: Bible Truth Depot, 1955
Ryle, J. C., Holiness, London: James Clarke & Co., 1952 (reprint of 19th century classic)
Vine, W. E., Merrill F Unger, and William White, Jr., Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985

Acknowledgement: Some of this material was also from teaching notes of Ed Zetterberg.

Ghandi's Seven Deadly Social Sins

Mahatma Ghandi's 7 deadly social sins are fairly diagnostic of are current economic ills:

1. politics without principle

2. wealth without work

3. commerce without morality

4. pleasure without consciece

5. education without character

6. science without humanity

7. worship without sacrifice