Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jesus Bled Enough

On a Thursday afternoon, a young woman came by the office to give me something. She was going to put it in the offering plate, but decided to just hand it to me.
I was in a meeting, so she left it at the front desk.
On the outside it said, “Jim White,” and underneath, “Be careful…sharp objects inside.”
On the back it read, “I thought I was going to put this in an offering plate but I think it would be best to give you directly.”
I opened the envelope, and inside a plastic bag were razor blades.
And a letter.
I asked her if I could share it, and she said I could:
“I have been coming to your church on and off now since I was in 5th grade. I am now 23…When I was 12 years old I started cutting myself. Now my arms are covered in an overwhelming amount of scars, but I am proud to say there are no open cuts. I have not cut for probably a year now, but I still have razor blades that are hidden around my room…
“I quit when I was about to cut one day but heard Jesus in my ear saying, ‘I bled enough.’
“He took my pain on the cross and I no longer needed to take it out on myself.
“But I realized by holding on to razor blades I am not fully letting go of the pain and addiction to cutting. I want to fully let it go now...
“It says in the Bible, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him for He cares for you.’ So I’m doing that today. This is an offering plate and I am offering to Jesus today more than any amount of money I could ever offer Him. These are all my razor blades that I have keep hidden around in different places of my reach just in case.
“I am handing it over to God and I trust you also with this as well. Thank you for all you and this church have done in my life...”
And then she signed her name.
I have those blades in my desk drawer.
I will keep them there for as long as I pastor.
James Emery White

Editor’s Note
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon .  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit www.churchandculture.org , where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite .

I Am Certain He Will Find You

Some 14 years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our opening session in the theology of faith.

That was the day I first saw Tommy. He was combing his hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. My quick judgment wrote him off as strange – very strange.

Tommy turned out to be my biggest challenge. He constantly objected to or smirked at the possibility of an unconditionally loving God. When he turned in his final exam at the end of the course, he asked in a slightly cynical tone, “Do you think I’ll ever find God?” “No,” I said emphatically. “Oh,” he responded. “I thought that was the product you were pushing.”

I let him get five steps from the door and then called out. “I don’t think you’ll ever find Him, but I am certain He will find you.” Tommy shrugged and left. I felt slightly disappointed that he had missed my clever line.

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was grateful for that. Then came a sad report: Tommy had terminal cancer.

Before I could search him out, he came to me. When he walked into my office, his body was badly wasted, and his long hair had fallen out because of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice, for the first time, was firm.

“Tommy! I’ve thought about you so often. I heard you were very sick,” I blurted out.

“Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer. It’s a matter of weeks.”

“Can you talk about it?” 

“Sure. What would you like to know?”

“What’s it like to be only 24 and know that you’re dying?”

“It could be worse,” he told me, “like being 50 and thinking that drinking booze, seducing women and making money are the real ‘biggies’ in life.”

Then he told me why he had come. 

“It was something you said to me on the last day of class. I asked if you thought I would ever find God, and you said no, which surprised me. Then you said, ‘But He will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time.

But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging against the bronze doors of heaven. But nothing happened. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of my desperate attempts to get some kind of message, I just quit.

I decided I didn’t really care about God, an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more important. I thought about you and something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you loved them.’ So I began with the hardest one: my dad.”

Tommy’s father had been reading the newspaper when his son approached him.

“Dad, I would like to talk with you.”

“Well, talk.”

“I mean, it’s really important.”

The newspaper came down three slow inches.

“What is it?”

“Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that.” 

Tommy smiled at me as he recounted the moment. “The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I couldn’t remember him doing before. He cried and he hugged me. And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning.

“It was easier with my mother and little brother,” Tommy continued. “They cried with me, and we hugged one another, and shared the things we had been keeping secret for so long. Here I was, in the shadow of death, and I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.

“Then one day I turned around and God was there. He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with Him. Apparently He does things in His own way and at His own hour. The important thing is that you were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him.”

“Tommy,” I added, “could I ask you a favor? Would you come to my theology-of-faith course and tell my students what you told me?”

Though we scheduled a date, he never made it. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of humanity has ever seen or the mind ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time. “I’m not going to make it to your class,” he said. “I know, Tommy.”

“Will you tell them for me? Will you . . . tell the whole world for me?”

“I will, Tommy. I’ll tell them.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Struggling With Excessive Self-Awareness



TO EDWARD LOFSTROM: A letter of great encouragement for someone who had been struggling with excessive self-awareness.

10 June 1962

You are of course perfectly right in defining your problem (which is also mine and everyone’s) as ‘excessive selfness’. But per- haps you don’t fully realise how far you have got by so defining it. All have this disease; fortunate are the minority who know they have it. To know that one is dreaming is to be already nearly awake, even if, for the present, one can’t wake up fully. And you have actually got further than that. You have got beyond the illusion (very common) that to recognise a chasm is the same thing as building a bridge over it.

Your danger now is that of being hypnotised by the mere sight of the chasm, of constantly looking at this excessive selfness. The important thing now is to go steadily on acting, so far as you can—and you certainly can to some extent, however small—as if it wasn’t there. You can, and I expect you daily do—behave with some degree of unselfishness. You can and do make some attempt at prayer. The continual voice which tells you that your best actions are secretly filled with subtle self-regards, and your best prayers still wholly egocentric—must for the most part be simply disregarded—as one disregards the impulse to keep on looking under the bandage to see whether the cut is healing. If you are always fidgeting with the bandage, it never will.

A text you should keep much is mind is I John iii, 20: ‘If our heart condemns us God is greater than our heart.’ I sometimes pray ‘Lord give me no more and no less self-knowledge than I can at this moment make a good use of.’ Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted—i.e., keep on fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk—don’t keep on looking at it.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

That I May Love Him

Missionary Jim Elliot


I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God—what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him.

Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into His eyes—ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself.

“O Jesus, Master and Center and End of all, how long before that Glory is Thine which has so long waited Thee? Now there is no thought of Thee among men; then there shall be thought for nothing else. Now other men are praised; then none shall care for any other’s merits. Hasten, hasten, Glory of Heaven, take Thy crown, subdue Thy Kingdom, enthrall Thy creatures.””

JIM ELLIOT

Friday, February 7, 2014

Overwhelmed By Giants? Blocked By Mountains?


Are you going through a very tough time? Are you having a relationship problem? Is your health going through a beating? Is the medical report really bad? Are you out of a job? Are you having a financial crisis? Are you having lots of stress in your job? Is your spiritual life stagnant? Are you being overwhelmed by too many giants? Is your path of progress blocked by countless mountains?

Many cannot kill their giants or move their mountains because they have so little faith. The giants or mountains may seem to grow larger when their faith is shrinking. Their situation seems impossible and fear grows out of proportion. What can be done when faith exits your life? How to turn situation around when fear rules supreme?

Recognise that giants will not remain forever. Realize that the mountains cannot grow any larger.They are only there for a season. And God will use this opportunity to strengthen your faith as you engage them. 

Giants can be killed and mountains can be moved! Who were those ordinary people in the Bible who proved that the promises of God were more powerful then all their problems, obstacles and barriers?

Moses proved that the promises of God were more powerful when he rescued thousands of slaves from under the nose of the hostile Pharaoh. Joshua proved it with his conquest of Jericho and the most parts of Canaan. Gideon proved it by routing the large Midianite army with a handful of men. David proved it with his sling and stone against Goliath.

Gideon and his 300 valiant warriors

Every one of these people had worst situation than you would ever faced. They had believed and overcome their adversaries. This is now the the season for you to trust and believe that God's promises are far greater than all the giants and mountains combined.You simply have to accept this truth! 

Every fear situation is subjugated by the "Faith Promises" of God. The life of faith begins when you refuse to give yourself any excuse to fear and fail. God has given you more than enough "Faith Promises" to exercise your faith to conquer and overcome all giants and mountains! Every one of these promises is found in the Bible. Read your Bible carefully!

Begin today by laying all the thoughts of defeat and fear at God's feet. Ask God for a vision of victory. His vision will give you a schedule of success. Then ask Him for wisdom and strength to overcome all doubts. Remember that nothing happens outside of you until a spark of belief happens inside.

Request that He sends you people and situations of favor. Pray with faith! Pray with belief! Then command all these hindrances and fears to go... in the mighty name of Jesus! You will see your Red Sea open and your Jericho walls crumbling down. One act of favor from the Lord is worth more than tons of worries and fear!

When you trust in His promises and activate your faith, miracles are standing at your front door, waiting for you to invite them in. Do open and let them in!

"All things are possible to those who believe." 
(Mark 9:23).

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." 
(Philippians 4:13).

Albert Kang

Monday, February 3, 2014

10 Ways to Determine God's Calling in Your Life


By John Piper

God's calling to missions is not authoritative the way the Scriptures are. Your calling is never beyond question. You can't claim it to others the way you quote Scripture to them.

Nevertheless our calling can be profoundly and durably sure in our own heart. It is the work of God to bring our heart to a point of conviction that, all things considered-including Scripture-this path is the path of obedience. The conviction is not infallible. But when it is of God, it brings peace.

How does God waken such a calling? I will suggest ten means that he uses. Only one of these is infallible-the Bible. All the others are relative. They are not absolutely decisive in your leading. They are important. But any of them can be overridden by the others. Various combinations of these are the fuel God uses to drive the engine of his calling in your life.

1. Above all, know your Bible and saturate your mind with it.

The Bible shapes our minds for mission durability (Psalm 1:1-3), and makes us burn for Christ (Luke 24:32).

2. Know your gifts and know yourself.

Every Christian has gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11). Knowing them shapes your convictions about your calling. And knowing yourself (as Paul exemplifies in Romans 7:15-24) deepens your sense of fitness for various ministries. (Keep in mind that this can be overridden by other facts!)

3. Ponder the need of the world.

The Christian heart of love is drawn by perceived needs, whether near or far. Therefore God uses what we know to awaken the measure of our desire that pushes us over the edge of commitment (Matthew 9:36-38).

4. Read missionary biography and missionary frontline stories.

Clearly the Bible treats heroes of the faith as divinely appointed inspirations for the awakening of vision and ministry (Hebrews 13:7). "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

5. Inquire of your soul, "Where are you burdened for others?"

God sends and seeks the burden for lost people. Jesus carried such a burden: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! . . . How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings" (Luke 13:33-34). This burden was essential to his calling. What is your burden?

6. Know your circumstances.

Parents, health, houses, lands, children, age, etc. All of them matter in our calling, but none of them is decisive. They can all be overridden. "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30).

7. Pray for God to throw you where you can be best used for his glory.

I say "throw" because in Matthew 9:38 that is the literal meaning: "Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to throw out laborers into his harvest." The point is pray! Ask God to use you to the fullest for his glory. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5).

8. Do not neglect passionate, Christ-exalting, corporate worship.

The most important missionary calling that ever happened took place in corporate worship: "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'" (Acts 13:2).

9. Listen humbly to the spiritual people in your life.

They not only confirm your gifts. They are the instruments of God to awaken in you possibilities and joys of missionary service that you never dreamed (2 Timothy 1:5-7).

10. Cultivate absolute surrender of all you are and have to Christ.

This is the person that God leads to the greatest fruitfulness of life. Woe to the person who tries to be a half-Christian and never says from the heart: "I renounce everything for you, Lord Jesus. I am willing to go anywhere and do anything at any cost, if you will go with me be my everlasting joy."

This is why Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. . . . Therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26-27, 33).

John Piper has been the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 1980. He has authored numerous best-selling books, including The Passion of Jesus Christ, Don't Waste Your Life and Desiring God. You will find 25 years of online sermons, articles, and other God-centered resources from the ministry of John Piper at www.desiringGod.orgHe also has a daily radio program, called "Desiring God," which can be accessed online at www.desiringGod.org/radio.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ocean in the Submarine


A new friend tells me that he is against money because the Bible says that money is evil. Once again, the verse found in 1 Timothy 6:10 is misinterpreted. The verse indicates that it is "the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil." 

It's clear that money is amoral. It is a tool to be used in our daily transactions and also for the glory of God. The three orphanages that I launched have to have money to operate. The 16 churches that I initiated also need money to operate. Money in the hands of responsible believers can help people and save lives.

However, when we start to LOVE MONEY then the problem is not the money but with with our greed. Greed is the root to all kinds of evil. God knows that greed has to be dealt with and so He gives us this scripture through the hands of Paul. 

Common sense tells us that it is alright if the submarine is in the ocean. However, it is not alright if the ocean is in the submarine. All the crew will drown and the submarine will be rendered useless. It will soon be a piece of rusting junk at the bottom of the ocean.

God knows that when greed gets into our systems, it will corrupt us. Paul the Apostle continues in 1 Timothy 6:10 - "Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." What Paul is saying here is about believers becoming apostate and "rusting" at the bottom of the dark spiritual ocean.

God knows where you stand in your spiritual growth and maturity. If you are not a good steward of money or wealth, God will not  bless you with a lot of it. The reason is obvious, He loves you too much to allow wealth to drown and kill you spiritually! 

Rev Albert Kang