Eye-Opening Experience

IMG_1386
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.

7BD1C647-B924-4BA4-9C95-149C312E3AAA_1_105_c
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!

IMG_1750
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.

IMG_1210
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.

 

IMG_1015
Preaching main session from Psalm 13 on Wednesday of the Pastors Conference
IMG_0513.JPG
Teaching split session on Tuesday of the Pastor’s Conference
IMG_1656
Teaching split session on Thursday of the Pastors Conference. The pastors were eager to learn from God’s Word!
IMG_1162
WorldView Institute senior students preparing to take their final exam

Why? Why? Why?

Police.jpg

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

God on Trial

Untitled design-3.png

When you stop to consider the events of this Wednesday about 2,000 years ago, it is mind-blowing that the creator and sustainer of life was put on trial by His own creation for sins He had not done. In the late hours of Wednesday, Jesus Christ was put on trial as a criminal. By Thursday He would be hanging on the cross. There he would take upon Himself the wrath of God for your sin and mine. While all Israel celebrated the passover in Jerusalem, just outside the city, on a hill called Golgotha, Jesus would become THE final passover lamb.

About a year ago, I preached a sermon series through the Gospel of Mark. I thought that I would share the sermons related to the events of the Passion Week beginning today.  On this day, I encourage you to meditate on your Savior, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday—God on Trial (Keynote)

Thursday—Viewing Calvary (Keynote)

Sunday—His Resurrection calls us to Total Abandonment (Keynote)

Timeline of the Passion Week

WHLH-30-God on Trial.004.jpeg

What If…

Prayer.jpg

Everywhere we turn there are people who are in need of the Savior—Jesus Christ. For certain, there are people who have rejected Him completely. People like Stephen Hawkings who completely denied the existence of God. However, that is not the average condition of the people we pass day after day. In fact, atheists only make up about 3% +/-  of the American population. More than 96% of the unchurched have admitted that they would attend church if they were invited. The overwhelming majority of people are simply wandering aimlessly through life oblivious to the severity of their need. In reality, they are simply blind. They do not see their own sinfulness. They do not see the pending judgement that is only a breath away. They do not see their need for Jesus even though they will dutifully go to church to celebrate His birth and resurrection. They are blind!

2 Corinthians 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Christ commissioned us to be lights to those who walk in darkness around us. We live to illuminate Jesus for those whom the devil desires to keep in darkness. He does not want them to see their need. He does not want them to see that they are dangerously close to an eternity of fiery consequence for their sin against a holy God.

I find that many believers are very content to be assured of their own salvation from hell, but paralyzed in fear to witness of it to others. Even more, I find that believers can produce only a few names that they are regularly praying for to be saved. One thing is sure, those who neglect to pray for the lost are not likely to witness to the lost.

I have a WHAT IF question for you today. A question that came crashing into my mind and caused me to think. What if God only saved the people that are on your prayer list and for whom you are praying daily? How many people would be in heaven with you?

May God enlarge our vision for the lost all around us.

So…What about Disney?

Disney.jpg

Disney and the Gay Agenda

Disney has been in the center of some controversy over its decision to include a gay scene featuring Josh Gad as LeFou in the newly released Beauty and the Beast (released March 17th). The opposition was voiced especially via social media and petitions. One of the petitions created by Life Site News gave the message to Disney, “Children’s movies are no place for promoting a harmful sexual political agenda, one that offends the deeply-held beliefs of countless parents and families.” The New York Times responded to this opposition with the article, “‘Beauty and the Beast’: Disney’s $300 Million Gamble.” Even the New York Times saw such a move as a dangerous one for a company that claims to be family oriented.

If any people wonder if this is a casual move on Disney’s part, it is not.  Bill Condon, Beauty and the Beast’s director, is quoted as saying the movie includes “A nice exclusively gay moment.” He goes on to share that Disney deals with the opposition by ignoring it. The point is, Disney has no intention of changing. In an interview, Condon was asked about his feelings toward the Bible and what he would do when he finds one in a hotel, “I wish I could say I’m like Ian McKellen and immediately go rip pages out of the Bible, but there don’t seem to be Bibles in the hotel rooms I stay in these days.” The obvious fact is, Condon has no respect for God’s Word and defiantly chooses to promote agendas contrary to it. Furthermore, it is evident that Disney will continue to promote whatever agenda is in vogue even if it causes them to lose supporters for a time. 

Nothing New

We must realize that this is not new for Disney. Disney has been a kind of Trojan horse, seeming to uphold traditional, moral, family values, when in reality, they have been doing just the opposite. During 1994, Disney opted to begin granting health insurance benefits to homosexuals. This move was a declaration of approval for the gay lifestyle. Their annually hosted “gay days” at their theme parks further confirms this. Disney has well earned the public reputation as a promoter of the homosexual lifestyle. 

What Does the Bible Say?

God designed marriage to be between one woman and one man, and it is honorable. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Nature itself reveals that this is God’s design for companionship and procreation.  Man will give account for every distortion of this sacred institution. (Romans 1:26-27, 32)

Shock of Bible Believers

However, even with Disney’s blatant defiance of Biblical principles, I am often more amazed at the shock expressed by born-again believers concerning the decisions of this and other secular organizations to promote anti-biblical agendas. There is shock over Starbucks not promoting Christmas on their cups. There is shock that Target would want to publicly jump on the transgender bathroom bandwagon. Currently, there is shock that Disney would take an old story, reshape it, and use it to promote a sexual political agenda. The list could go on, but I think you get the idea. We sometimes are stunned at the fact that the lost act like the lost.

A Secular Company and Biblical Values

This is what is most astonishing about this issue–not that Disney is failing to uphold moral values, but that believers are surprised at it. You see, the Bible gives us several truths about the lost that show us that they simply do not have the ability to understand or uphold Biblical values. 

I Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 

Those without Christ do not understand Biblical truth and do not make their decisions according to it. We are reminded in Ephesians 2:1 that before salvation, we “…were dead in tresspasses and sins.” 

We were spiritually separated from God in active lawlessness and defiance against God. Every lost person is in that exact position of defiance against God’s laws. I John 3:8 shows us that they continuously sin and side with the god of this world—Satan.

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” While we all mourn the declining morality of so many in our society, we must remember that they do not have the ability to uphold Biblical values—they are lost. That is the job of Bible believers. 

Christians point their fingers at the lost and expect them to act like believers and follow God’s Word. They won’t. That’s why we have been left here. God has told us to be salt and light. He has commanded us to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. They will not stop acting against God until they personally know God through a relationship with His Son Jesus. That’s where we come in.  

May we as Bible believers be ever ready to share Jesus Christ everywhere we go.

Don’t Be Distracted by Objections

Bibe-Starbucks

Many times we are hesitant to share the Gospel because we fear the objections that people put up. Our church is going through “Take It Personally,” and we discussed seven common objections to the Gospel. These are ideas that the lost often raise when we are sharing the truth of the Gospel with them. We should not allow objections to distract us from the central message of the Gospel. However, we must be ready to answer them.

First, let’s be sure to use Scripture. Our words are weak, but God’s Word is like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. God promises that His Word will accomplish its purpose. We must use it! Secondly, let us always remember that our goal must always be to bring the conversation back to the Gospel. Answer every objection with Bible truth and then continue to share the Gospel.

  1. I have always been a Christian.
    • No one is born a Christian. The Bible teaches we are born sinners.
    • Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.
    • John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
  2. I’ve asked God to forgive me many times.
    • It is a prayer of faith, believing in Christ’s ability and willingness to save, and is a one-time decision.
    • Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
    • John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
  3. This is too simple. I need to do something to earn it.
    • If you could earn it, it would not be a gift.
    • Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  4. I’m good enough. I am not a very bad sinner.
    • By comparison to others we might look good but, God sees our lives differently.
    • Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
  5. Doesn’t death end everything? How do we know there is a real Heaven and Hell?
    • The Bible clearly teaches the reality of Heaven and Hell.
    • Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
    • Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
    • Luke 16—Rich man and Lazarus
  6. I don’t want to give up my friends and lifestyle.
    • There is nothing more valuable than an eternal soul. When you trust Christ as your Savior, He will give you the grace to desire a new life and be able to live a new life.
    • Mark 8:36–37 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
  7. I think that as long as I’m sincere in what I believe, that’s all that matters.
    • Sincerity is not what grants forgiveness or eternal life, rather a relationship with Christ.
    • Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death.
    • John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
    • John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
    • Acts 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
    • 1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

*List of objections taken from Take It Personally available from strivingtogether.com