Archive for July, 2011

To the Nations

This may be a cliché statement, but I have a heart for foreign missions. Which is why I’m so excited to have the opportunity to go on a short-term mission trip to Thailand next Saturday. The Lord has really blessed me already in preparing to go overseas (this is the first time I will be leaving the country), and I look forward to see what amazing things He will do as we go.

One of the things I’ve learned though, despite my lack of experience, is that there is nothing special about going overseas. I am still Nik – I do not become a different person (aka, Super Christian) for suddenly getting on a plane and going on a mission trip. If my life is a mess here, I doubt I’ll be much help over there, especially if I’m in worse living conditions than over here. It’s like the tea-bag analogy: you don’t know what’s in it until you put it in hot water.

That’s not to say that a mission trip can’t be a life changing experience. I know it will be for me, as I’ve heard so many others testify to. I can’t wait to see how the Lord challenges, proves, and grows me in my time over in Thailand.

I know that one thing the Lord has laid on my heart is to be a “missionary” no matter where I am. Wherever I am led by the Lord – whether it’s here or somewhere else – I am called to be like Christ and to follow in His footsteps. I am not called to missions, in the sense of my life work – I am called to be like Christ. If I am led by Him to the mission field, that is fine. But right now, right where I am, I am being called by Christ to be like Christ in this world, and to change it for His glory. It’s right in 1 Peter 2:21 – “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.”

Yet, I do challenge you to seriously consider sometime where the Lord is leading you. We may hear the call of the mission field, the cries of the lost and dying around the world, but we can so easily shut them up. Consider this website: http://www.joshuaproject.net/ . It’s a website that, through various means, has calculated how many unreached people groups there are in the world. Literally, millions who have not even heard the name Jesus Christ – whereas we hear it so much, too often as a swear word. I also have a friend from Ellerslie who is going to be living in France for 9 months:(http://forhisworship.blogspot.com/ ). You may think, Why France? One group has reported that only about .8 % of the French population is made up of Protestant Christians. My friend will actually be living in a predominantly Muslim community, which is quite different from the France we often imagine (or maybe it’s just me).

To say the least, there is still much work to be done in this world. I would say the Great Commission has not yet been fulfilled. Not every tribe, tongue, and nation has heard the Word of God. If we do want to change the world, we must be living sacrifices, as Romans 12:1 says –

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

The group I’m going with has some amazing sermons and articles on this topic of missions. I also encourage you to see what they’re up to: http://www.historymakers.info/sermons/

So, to repeat what I said earlier, I have a heart for missions. But truly, I just have a heart for the gospel. I want to see the banner of Jesus Christ planted where it has not yet stood, wherever that may be – the countries across the world or the souls of my lost friends. I want to carry His banner long and hard, to glory or to oblivion. I don’t want to waste my life, but to spend it, and spend it well, for His kingdom and His glory.

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The Number of Our Days

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16

Recently, the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was released. (And before you think that this is a post knocking the movie and quit reading, it’s not. I do have my views on the Harry Potter series – but that’s not what this blog is about.) Many of my friends have gone to see it, and I’ve seen status updates about it plastered all over Facebook. I think it’s intriguing that so many people can spend so much time and money on this topic. Granted, I understand completely; I used to do it all the time. One main reason I don’t go to theaters often is because of the cost. Yet, despite increased ticket prices, it seems people are still willing to go and sit in a theatre.

One of my meditations lately has been the above verse and its Old Testament companion, Psalm 90:12:

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

In this life, we’ve been given a certain amount of time to live. As Moses says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” The average life span is indeed seventy years. Yet, we are also never promised tomorrow, we “know not what shall be on the morrow” (Jam. 4:14), so we never really know how long we’ll be around. But assuming I will live to the average life span, I have about 52 years left in my life.

Look at it this way: the most recent Harry Potter movie is two hours and ten minutes long. Add in previews, travel time, and ticket buying, going to see the movie could cost you about three and a half to four hours of your time. Four hours – there’s a lot you could do with that time. Unlike the money spent at the theaters, every man is given the same amount of hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month, and months in a year. The question is how will that man spend them? Listen to this quote from a man who spent his life for the cause of Christ:

“If God would grant us the vision, the word sacrifice would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short, we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ. May God help us ourselves by the eternities that separate the Aucas from a comprehension of […] Him, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor so that we might, through his poverty, be made rich.” – Nate Saint, two weeks before he was martyred by the Aucas

I don’t know about you, but this quote convicts me every time I read it. We, the bearers of the gospel of Christ, have been given this short time in which to live for Him, by His power. Yet so often we are distracted from our primary cause and are given over to trivial, vain, and pointless pursuits. We can waste so many hours in a day, seeking nothing but the pleasures of this earth.

Not only that, but what we spend our time on is what we will be shaped by. Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” If we are spending more time and energies in movies, television, music, Facebook, and worldly things than we are in the presence and Word of God, how can we expect to become transformed people? Think about it – every movie, song, show – everything has a message it is sending, and if it is a message from Hollywood or pop culture, you can almost guarantee it is anti-Christian.

Am I saying every movie is bad? No – I have watched movies. Am I saying that Facebook is a creation of the devil? No – I have a Facebook account. Am I saying that if we do anything but pray and read the Bible and act like monks the rest of our lives we’ll be unholy? No – I do, in fact, enjoy the sunshine and the presence of my fellow man. Here’s the issue: we live in a culture that creates so many distractions, we cannot hear the voice of God. We live in a day where, because of technological advancements, we are able to waste innumerable hours in front of a screen, and not even troll the depths of entertainment.

We must remember the words of James, which say, “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” We ought to put in our heads the words of C.T. Studd, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” We have been given this one life, to do something for the glory of God in our age. We have been born into this era for a reason, and it is not so that we can squander all our time on worldly pursuits. Seriously ask yourself, “How do I spend my time? Do I spend it in a way that would honor God and is transforming me more and more into His image? Or am I spending it in a way that is dishonorable and is conforming me more and more to the patterns of the world?” Think on these things, my beloved friends in Christ, and may we rise far above the ridiculously low standard in our generation.

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The Sin of Curiosity

“…I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.” – Romans 6:19b

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” – Eph. 5:11-12

“I really don’t want to talk about it.”

As humans we are naturally curious beings. There are things that interest us or attract our attention, and we want to know about them. Of course, this curiosity is only stimulated when we reach the edge of obtaining juicy information when we hear the above sentence.

“I really don’t think I should tell you.”

Well, now we want to know all the more, don’t we? If it’s worth keeping behind closed lips, it must be worth knowing. I find that more often than not, though, it’s much more tempting when it’s something scandalous to pry a bit more and see if I can garner my desired information. I can act very concerned about the person we’re talking about, and think I’m genuinely wanting to help them. In reality, I just want to find out what’s going on that I don’t know about. I’ve fallen into the trap of curiosity.

James paints a good picture of this in his epistle:

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

The idea is that of a fisherman baiting and drawing away a fish from its safe abode. The fish sees something interesting and thinks, “My, I wonder what that thing is? Attractive thing, it is. Well, it’s a worm! I wonder if it tastes good… Maybe I’ll try it…” Before long, the fisherman is tossing another one in his boat.

So often, temptation begins with a simple object of curiosity. Whether it becomes a gossip filled conversation, or reading about something we ought not, or seeing something we shouldn’t, it may begin with a simple, “I was just curious.” It makes sin sound so innocent. No longer is sin the despicable thing that it is; it was just a fulfillment of our natural curiosity. And when we awake to ourselves, we think, “Now how did I get here?”

One pitfall for me was movie reviews. I got into the habit of reading movie reviews on a Christian review site. Was I ever going to see these movies? Probably not: I’m not a fan of movie theatres, really, so I could always just review it later if I really wanted to see it. Did I need to read about it because someone had asked me what I thought about it? No, I just wanted to see what it was about. Unfortunately, I would (seemingly) innocently read a review, and before long was reading about graphic violence or something dark or… so on and so forth. And then my mind, being very imaginative, would play what these scenes could look like in my head. Eventually, I realized what the problem was. But it all started with a simple, “I want to know.”

So often, we know more about evil and dark things than we do about the good. Rather than being “wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil”, we are precisely the opposite. If we continue down this path, we will no longer have any shame in speaking “of those things which are done by them in secret.” We won’t reprove the deeds of darkness by our silence and severity toward them, but will instead discuss them.

Our knowledge is backwards today. I see nominal Christians who don’t know many more scriptures than John 3:16, but can tell you all about the latest sex-romp movie. It is so easy to access knowledge and wisdom about evil and sinful things.

Paul writes in Romans 12, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Whatever we are feeding our brains and souls with is what we will be conformed to. If we want to be Christians who are conformed to the image of God, why do we keep listening to music and watching junk that contradicts the message of the cross? When I feed my mind on things that are of the world, the flesh, and the devil, I shall increasingly think, and thus, be, like the world, the flesh, and the devil. But when I fill my mind with all things that edify and uplift my eyes toward heaven, I become increasingly more like my Savior and Lord. And isn’t that our goal, anyway – to increase in sanctification and holiness so as to love and worship our God better and to be duly prepared for heaven? Paul concludes that verse in Romans 12 with, “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” That is the purpose here in the transformation of our minds – to see what is good in the sight of God.

If you are like me, you’re a naturally curious person. I’ve talked here about the sinful curiosity; but there is a holy curiosity, a burning desire to know God and to know His Word more. So if you are like me, join me in my quest to turn away from my fleshly inquiries, and to turn to the Word and inquire there of my Lord. If we diligently seek Him, He will answer us. In fact, He has given us what we need to know Him more – the Bible. Rather than hearing the latest gossip or seeing the latest movie, get into His Word.

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