Eye-Opening Experience

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Josiah and Shiela with two graduating seniors at South India Baptist Bible College

Sheila and I have arrived back from an extraordinary trip to India. Our hearts are full with all that God did and taught us during our short time there. We are so thankful for the opportunity we had to travel with WorldView Ministries and to have a part in the Pastor’s Conference on the campus of South India Baptist Bible College. This Bible College is the home of the WorldView Institute of India where men and women are trained to translate the Bible. Here are a few thoughts and pictures I would like to share from the trip.

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2020 WorldView Pastors Conference Team—Benjamin Christopher (India WorldView Representative), Ken Fielder (WorldView Director), Harely Snode (Pastor of NorthLife Baptist Church), Jeremy Rands (Pastor of Monaclova Baptist Church), Josiah and Shiela Kagin, Dan Outler (Pastor of Hope Baptist Church), Howard Casey (WorldView Representative), Bob McQueary (WorldView Church Planting Director), James Overton (Director of WorldView Institute of India)

Prayer is an essential part of all effective ministry.

We are so thankful for the prayer support from our church family and others! They were felt and are deeply appreciated. It was evident that God gave His strength and power to minister. Many of the Indian pastors and Christian leaders are serving the Lord in incredibly difficult circumstances. Nearly every one of them that we talked with had a story of being persecuted or facing persecution. They spoke of the sacrifices they and their families were making to preach the Gospel. For me, the thought of preaching God’s Word to them, as an American who has never faced persecution, was overwhelming. I remarked to one of the other American pastors on the first morning of the conference, “I have never had such a sense of inadequacy.”  Our team’s prayer was that the Spirit of God working in and through us would ignite the working of the Spirit of God in and through them. We believe God answered that prayer. For those that prayed for us, thank you for supporting us in prayer. Your prayers were essential!

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The delegates attending the 2020 WorldView Pastors Conference in the SIBBC Auditorium

God is actively working to advance His kingdom in ways and places unknown to us.

Before this trip, I had no real knowledge of what God was doing in India. India is predominantly Hindu and Muslim. Those two religions make up 97% out of 1.3 billion people. All the rest of the religions, including Christianity, make up just 3% of the population. This makes India a very spiritually dark land. You can see it in the eyes of the people. It is truly amazing to me how in the midst of such darkness, the light of the Gospel is shining. Being on the campus of the South India Baptist Bible College and in the Pastor’s Conference was like a spiritual oasis. The difference was as stark as midnight and noonday. Every believer I spoke with described their present efforts to take the Gospel to their people. It did not matter if they were young or old, they were passionate about taking the light of the Gospel into the darkness. I spoke with a ten-year-old young man whose desire was to be a pastor. I spoke with three young men who were working together to preach the gospel in every village. Many gave testimony of where they were preaching the Gospel, pastoring people and training others to do the same. In reality, it is hard for me to put it into words. God is not dead. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not jeopardized by the threats of rulers and religions. The church of Jesus Christ is being built by Jesus and the gates of hell are not prevailing against it.

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Indian pastors walking on the SIBBC campus during the 2020 WorldView Pastors Conference

The spiritual sacrifice of one generation provides stepping stones for the next generation. 

This is the lesson that seems to be dominating all the other lessons that God taught me and I am trying to absorb. An oasis is a fertile spot in a desert, where water is found.  In 1983, Dr. P. D. Cherian and his wife, Thankamma, founded the South India Baptist Bible College. The piece of land they purchased was undesirable, dry and infested with snakes. Before going, a pastor friend of mine, who teaches often at the college, told me that it would be like going to the Garden of Eden. I found this to be true. The campus is an oasis both physically and spiritually. As I heard the stories of faith and God’s provision, I was struck by this thought. What I am seeing and enjoying, along with the students and pastors, is the product of great spiritual sacrifice. This sacrifice provides wonderful stepping stones to take the Gospel further into the darkness. This is a reality in every generation. The spiritual sacrifices I make today for Jesus and the Gospel enable my children and others to go further tomorrow. This reminds me of the truth found in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

This trip was worth all the expense and effort! God taught me more than I feel I can absorb. Sheila and I are prayerfully reflecting on this incredible opportunity knowing God is using this experience shape and grow us for the work He has called us to do.

 

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Preaching main session from Psalm 13 on Wednesday of the Pastors Conference
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Teaching split session on Tuesday of the Pastor’s Conference
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Teaching split session on Thursday of the Pastors Conference. The pastors were eager to learn from God’s Word!
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WorldView Institute senior students preparing to take their final exam

Growing in 2020

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Those who garden know that growth requires a plan along with consistent care and effort. Spiritual growth is no different. As you prepare for 2020, may I encourage you to  plan for spiritual growth. Remember, growth will not come easy. However, with some care and effort, it will come! Let me suggest some resources that you might find helpful for your spiritual growth in the New Year.

Digital Bible Reading Plan on the YouVersion App

  1. One Year Bible Group Plan
  2. My Utmost for His Highest 30 Day Group Plan

Daily Reading Bibles & Study Bibles

  1. One Year Bible
  2. Life Application Study Bible
  3. Thompson Chain Study Bible
  4. Ryrie Study Bible
  5. Kids Study Bible

Daily Devotionals

  1. Trust and Obey
  2. Rooted in Christ
  3. A Daily Word
  4. A Word to the Wise
  5. Disciple
  6. Revival Today
  7. Journey
  8. Daily in the Word in your Email Inbox
  9. My Utmost for His Highest—Oswald Chambers
  10. Morning and Evening—C.H. Spurgeon

Prayer App

Echo Prayer App

The Lord’s Supper

“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:23-31‬

Something Came Up…

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We have all gotten that message before. It happens sometimes in the moments before a plan to get together. “I am so, so sorry, but something came up. I will not be able to meet you.” My wife and I recently had one of those as we were picking up a purchase from Facebook Marketplace. We were at the meeting place at the time agreed, but five, then ten minutes had passed, and we got the message. “I’m sorry I can’t meet you. Something came up.” 

Whether it is a meeting like that, a dinner engagement or appointment to work on a project, this message brings up a variety of questions in our minds. Is everything alright? Was there an emergency? How can I help? What could have “come up” that was more important than what we had planned? Could what came up have been dealt with later? 

You are not the only one that gets that message. Did you know that God gets that message from His children all the time? In fact, He gets it weekly. “I am so, so sorry, but something came up, God. I will not be able to make it to church today.” I wonder what questions come up in God’s mind when He gets that message from us? Is everything alright? Was there an emergency? How can I help? What could have “come up” that was more important than what we had planned? Could what came up have been dealt with later? 

Hebrews 10:23–25 “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Here in this verse, God commanded us to assemble together. However, He wants us to assemble out of love, not duty. Yet the growing trend among His children today is that assembling with their church once a week or even once a month is good enough. Many of God’s children have become all too comfortable messaging God, “I am so, so sorry God, but something came up.” Certainly there are emergencies, health issues and “ox in the ditch” scenarios, but many things could be, and ought be, put aside so that we, as children of God, can assemble together. 

Before you press send on that message to God this Sunday, Wednesday or other time when your church family is assembling together, ask yourself, “What is more important than obeying God?“ He told me to assemble with my fellow believers. He told me to do so all the more as we get closer to Christ’s return. If I choose to do something else when I my church family is assembling, can I expect the blessing of God on what I am doing? Am I pleasing my Heavenly Father by not assembling with my church family?

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Let’s sow obedience and reap a blessing. Let’s be committed to assemble with our church family every time the doors are open.

Why? Why? Why?

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In the days following a weekend of horrible acts of murder in El Paso, Texas and my own city of Dayton, Ohio, the common question everywhere is “Why?” “What is the motive?” “Why did the two murderers do what they did?” “What are the specifics?”

While most of the specifics will eventually come out in the investigations as the fantastic men and women in our law enforcement communities wade through the evidence, likely there will be some questions that still remain. Questions like: “How could they let themselves do this?” “Why would someone kill his own sister?”

To get some answers, consider the very first murder that was ever recorded for us in human history. We find the story in Genesis chapter four. Remember, this is before there were fatherless homes, a culture of glorifying violence in video games and movies, guns or weapons of any kind. Before this murderous act, a murder had never been witnessed. We find two brothers named Cain and Abel. Abel had a heart to obey God and worship Him by obeying God’s instructions. Cain went through the motions of worshipping God but did not listen to God’s instructions.  Cain’s actions revealed a heart that had rejected the authority of God in his life. His actions were rebellious toward God because his heart was rebellions toward God.

Cain did not appreciate God’s blessing on Abel’s obedience, and so in jealousy, he murdered his brother. Genesis 4:8 tells us, “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

Remember, Cain had never seen a murder before. Where did that idea come from? In order to understand, we must go back one chapter to read about how sin entered into the world. Adam and Eve were created by God and placed into the Garden of Eden. They lived in a world that we have never experienced, a completely perfect world. They enjoyed daily interaction and conversation with God, their Creator. God had created them for relationship. He did not force a relationship but gave them a free will to choose to fellowship with Him. God gave ONE instruction to them that they needed to obey. In Genesis 3, Eve and Adam chose to disobey, and by that single act of disobedience, sin entered into the world. Romans 5:12 comments on this, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” This meant that the relationship between the holy God and man would now be severed and separated.

There would be many consequences of this separation from God. Sin of every kind imaginable would now be thought of in the human heart and carried out in actions. Sin of any kind always has its root in the heart. Jesus talked about this in Mark 7:21–23,  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness [unrestrained sinful behavior], an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” 

That is quite a list that Jesus gives us, and it is so true. So as we look at the murders that have taken place in these two cities and ask why, let us remember that it is the sinfulness of man’s heart that makes him capable of doing such wicked things. As long as man lives in rebellion against his Creator, sins like this and more will continue to be committed.

There is HOPE! Jesus Christ came into the world to reconcile us (mankind) to our Creator. John 3:16–17 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Every man and woman alive needs to be saved from their sin and the consequences of it. The only hope of changing our actions is dealing with the problem of the heart. It is sinful and needs to be reconciled to God. Have you been reconciled to God? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? You can today!

Yes! I want to know more!—Salvation Explained

 

Related message preached on Sunday, August 11, 2019

Guest Post: Five Big No No’s in Communication

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This post was written by Pastor Harley Snode and posted at his website. I appreciate him agreeing to allow me to guest post this thought provoking article. 


Would you agree that our communication skills are slipping at an alarming rate toward the grammatical gutter?  The trends of the “Communication Age” are not just concerning on an academic or social level but also on a moral and spiritual level.  I recently read, “Your thumbs are your new tongue. Guard them carefully. When they are used a lot, trouble is sure to follow.” 

Jesus, our Savior and Lord who still makes the verbal rules, admonishes us, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn. 6:63)

May I provide you with five never-valid modes of profitless communication with your thumbs, lips, or even non-verbal communication:

Exaggeration-a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is.

Pathology: Frequently employs one hundred percent statements (“always, never”); Distorts the positive/negative attributes without including the offsetting characteristics or clarifying context of other data points; Driven with one-upmanship toward peers at home, work, church, etc.; Comparison is king

Consequences: Loss of credibility; Doing ministry and spiritual activity for the wrong motivations; Breaking with reality; Deceived into doing the opposite with personal sin-diminishing/excusing it away; Not allowing Christ alone to be the source of identity, acceptance, success (Do you know that it is impossible to exaggerate when speaking exclusively of Christ?!?!)

This exploding expression in our post-modern culture has led to a proclivity to propagate and accept “fake news” that fits our predisposed bias.  (We not only widely accept grammatical errors in our texting; we also tolerate and embrace fudged figures and skewed facts more readily than ever before.)

Pessimism-a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.

Pathology: Savors and shares any juicy story that reveals the underbelly of a celebrity, politician, or organization; Remains aloof and “analytical” where one should be engaged and participatory; Deflects from own weaknesses by redirecting the spotlight to the shortcomings of others; Trolling for “gotcha” content online

Consequences: Constantly living in a reactionary mode; Consumed with fear; Constantly possessing a critical, cynical spirit; Inability to share meaningful, intimate connection with other people; Lost opportunities to edify others; A dim, despondent view of the future that leaves God out of the equation

This verbal trend leads to our default, valid position always being negative instead of the peace-giving bias toward a “good report” (Ph. 4:6-8).

Sarcasm-the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Pathology: Using so-called humor to communicate caustic truth; Indifference to the backstory of other’s mistakes/failures; Jumping to conclusions or assumptions in a reckless manner; A pervasive focus upon making others feel stupid; Thriving on “awkward”

Consequences: Inability to hold a serious conversation or consider serious subject matter; Squandering verbal ability with meaningless banter; Immaturity in tone and pace of conversation; Digressing into a person with zero influence (Reasonable people ultimately tune this tone out.)

The bottom line is, as my high school English teacher Mrs. Donough repeatedly put it, “Sarcasm is not an effective means of communication.” (This is especially true for those of us who possess a God-given “pulpit” of public influence.)

Passive Aggression-indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.

(Before we go on, I must clarify that I have NOBODY as the mental profile picture beside each or all of these on the list.  Therefore this is not a passive-aggressive post toward someone indirectly.)

Pathology: Speaks to everybody except the person with whom there is a problem; Posts vague references of criticism on online hoping for third-party sympathy and goaded retaliation from the person being indirectly attacked; Studies to be adept at “pushing the buttons” that evoke strong, negative emotions in others

Consequences: Squandering excessive amounts of time hoping to garner sympathy or drama that rarely materializes; Never addressing/resolving conflicts; A growing inability to have direct dialogue with other people; Shrinking numbers of people to whom you can still approach in real time and space and have sweet fellowship; Can only focus on the loud chinks in the armor of others

This is a blight upon the local church today…especially through the enabling of social media where everyone has a voice-a voice to attack issues and people for which they have no responsibility or influence.  (If you cannot be a part of the solution, you have no business speaking on the problem!)

Stream of Consciousness-a literary style in which a character’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions are depicted in a continuous flow uninterrupted by objective description or conventional dialogue.

Obviously social media has unleashed this verbal tendency into a constant temptation with instantaneous access to the world.  (This trend is especially embodied by many of our leaders today in politics, entertainment, sports, etc.)

Pathology: Unfiltered emotions spewing out; Immediate, reactionary thoughts online or in person (“thinking out loud”); Discussing in public forums what should be reserved for private reflection; Unwillingness to be still and quiet; Way to much volume (in amount and decibel levels) of talk,talk, talk

Consequences: Regret about words that can never be taken back; Unnecessary/unproductive drama with complete strangers or expired relationships from the past; Expression of underdeveloped, immature content that discourages or misleads others; Flippant interaction/sharing with crude or inappropriate content

The most sobering reality of “just speaking my mind” is that it eliminates any sacred space for the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly or the Spirit of God to saturate our soul-all that is left is carnal consciousness!

You can like or dislike this post, agree or disagree but…listen to what Jesus has to say:

Mt 12:32-33 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

And we honestly think they’re “only words” and “don’t matter?”  Nothing God-honoring was or ever will be built with exaggeration, pessimism, sarcasm, passive-aggression, or stream of consciousness!  Ever!  (They will always be faulty building materials no matter how normalized they become.)  I give you permission to confront me if you hear a single syllable online or in person where my communication wanders into one of these five no nos.  Will you grant that same permission to the Lord, your spouse, your pastor, your mentor, even your children/grandchildren?  It is time to elevate our God-given ability from the world’s pig pen of meaningless chatter to the propagation of the grace and truth that is found only in Jesus Christ!

What other verbal tendencies do you observe that we need to nix in our progressive sanctification?