Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Note from Jan Korbel

I received the following e-mail from Jan Korbel a couple of days ago. Please join me in lifting her up in prayer.

Hello Friends,

I have been diagnosed with typhoid. I have just started on Cipro to combat the typhoid. Even though my ratio numbers were high, I think I should be feeling a lot worse than I do. I am certain God in working on my behalf because of your faithfulness in prayer. The doctor also prescribed a vitamin B complex and recommended plenty of food and water. With a funny stomach I don't often feel like eating, but I am trying. I have missed classes for two days and will probably miss at least one more. Please pray the medicine starts doing its thing right away. I also found out today that I did not have an amoeba.

I am so thankful to God for not getting radically sick while I was on the ferry or traveling in Zanzibar this weekend. I am thankful for having been here long enough to know where to go and how to get around so that being sick isn't as scary. I'm thankful the rainy season is finally upon us to drop the temps here a little. With it comes the regular problems of mud and more mosquitoes, but I'll continue coping. I know God is in control. Mornings seem to be the hardest time for me with this - maybe it's because you are all asleep during my mornings. :)

Thank you so much for your continued prayers.

Blessings, Jan

Friday, March 28, 2008

Update on Kaffrine, Senegal

You may remember praying for some fellow believers from Kaffrine, Senegal the week before Easter. Well, I received the following encouraging report from them yesterday:

"Thanks for all of your prayers. I saw and felt a big difference after several people said they were praying for us. The heavy atmosphere really lifted. And we are rejoicing because of the two new believers who were baptised on Easter morning! Easter weekend was a real joy - full of good fellowship with the family of Christ - and the extra specialness of sharing communion and the baptisms together. In the evening almost 50 people (both seekers and the believers from the morning) came to watch the Gospel of John movie. Corey did a great job keeping the cassette recording of the Wolof reading playing in time with the (English) movie for three hours! It is a powerful movie and the message about Christ was clear. Keep praying for God's Kingdom to come here in Kaffrine! We all really appreciate your prayers - God is answering them!"

Please Pray for the Rueben Family

You may have heard by now, but yesterday it was reported that Paul Rueben, whose family we prayed for yesterday, was declared dead by the FBI. Please continue to pray for the family now as they deal with the loss of a son, husband, father, and friend.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Please Pray for the Rueben Family

I received the following e-mail this morning and post it here in its entirety just in case someone may be moved to help this precious family. Here in Minnesota, this story has been all over the news and so this e-mail made that "news story" seem a lot more real to me. Please join me in interceding for the Ruebens.

To my Family & Friends,

I am writing today in a plea for help and prayers! Not for myself but for friends of mine named Paul & Keri Reuben. I met Keri and Paul through our optical, they are patients of ours that have become very special throughout the years! You may recognize their names from the news or a conversation with me in the last 16 months or so. Today I ask for you to read their story and take whatever action the Lord leads you to do.

Paul was working as a security contractor for Crescent Security in Iraq back in November of 2006 when he and 4 others were kidnapped and taken hostage. Since that time there has been little news and seemingly little done to get them freed. The families have been receiving updates weekly from the FBI but ultimately have received very little info due to the security nature of the incident. In the last couple weeks there were severed fingers of the hostages sent to our government officials and earlier this week the bodies of two of the hostages were recovered. As of this moment Paul is still missing!

Paul is a Husband, a Father, a Son, a Brother, a Friend. He needs lots and lots of prayers and his family needs him home!

Keri is Paul's wife, when we first met she was working a very stressful job as a full time a juvenile probation officer. Paul convinced her to go part time and let him provide for their family shortly before his kidnapping. Currently she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and is struggling to make it! Keri hasn't received a check from Crescent Security since December of 2006 and because Paul has not been found (dead or alive) his life insurance does her no good either. She rents a home in Buffalo from a large local construction company and has been served an eviction notice and utility shut off notices. She has received some help from the county and her church but Paul has been missing for 16 months and that kind of emergency assistance only goes so far.

Both Paul and Keri are wonderful God loving people, please pray!! My heart just aches at the thought of what Paul and Keri and their kids have had to go through, I pass that ache to all of you to share with me until Paul comes home!

For those that can help monetarily there is a fund set up for the family at TCF Bank, it is titled the PAUL REUBEN FUND.

If you all could share this with more friends and family I'd appreciate your help in spreading this families story and I know Paul and Keri would appreciate your prayers too!

Thank You,

Lisa Paden

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

John Owen on the Glory of Christ's Humility

Some of you know that I've been reading a modernized version of John Owen's Glory of Christ, and I must say that it's doing its job, that is, helping me to see the glory of Christ. The chapter I read today is about the glory of Christ's humility and the argument basically goes like this:

1. Christ is infinite and the implications of this fact are literally unimaginable.

2. Human beings are finite and so far below Christ that the distance between us is also unimaginable.

3. Thus, the humility of Christ in taking on flesh and reconciling us to God in one body through the cross is infinite and unimaginable.

And yet. Pastor John, as I like to call him, strongly encourages us to spend much time contemplating these things, praying that God will grant us a "spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him" (Eph. 1:17).

I strongly recommend that you search for this book on Amazon.Com, or whatever your favorite book seller is, and devour it. I plan to read it twice.

Thank you, Jesus, for Pastor John.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Strange Easter Sunday

Well, as a California boy, I must admit that I'd never experienced a white-Easter, that is before today. It has snowed 2 or 3 inches in the last couple of days, and it was really coming down this morning. It felt more like Christmas than Easter. But as my fellow Pastor, Kevin, said this morning, when you combine the earliest Easter since 1913 with life in Minnesota you get a white-Easter.

Other than the snow, though, it's been a great Easter. As I prepared for my sermon this week I had one of the sweetest times of communion with Jesus I've had in some time--I will not soon forget it. And then just climbing inside the Easter story once again was a great blessing.

If you haven't done this before, I'd strongly recommend that you go to a private place and read the Easter story in the gospel of John very slowly and meditatively. Don't rush. Take all the time you need. Chapters 13-20 cover a period of only 48 hours, plus or minus, and they are among the most meaningful words ever written in the history of the world.

Anyhow, I'm just about ready to knock off for the day. Tomorrow's my day off and I look forward to listening to a good Easter sermon or two. Hope you had a great Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Can You Guess Which Century?

I wonder if you can guess the century in which the following quote was written:

"I cannot withhold my conviction that the professing church of the _____ century is as much damaged by laxity and indistinctness about matters of doctrine within as it is by skeptics and unbelievers without. Myriads of professing Christians nowadays seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with color blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound. If a preacher of religion is only clever and eloquent and earnest, they appear to think he is all right, however strange and heterogeneous his sermons may be.

"They are destitute of spiritual sense, apparently, and cannot detect error. Popery or Protestantism, an atonement or no atonement, a personal Holy Spirit or no Holy Spirit, future punishment or no future punishment, high church or low church or broad church, Trinitarianism, Arianism, or Unitarianism, nothing comes amiss to them: they can swallow all, if they cannot digest it! Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity, they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody is going to be lost.

"Their religion is made up of negatives and the only positive thing about them is that they dislike distinctness, and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong...The only point you can make out is that they admire earnestness and cleverness and charity, and cannot believe that any clever, earnest, charitable man can ever be in the wrong."

Well, what's your guess?

If you said the 19th century, you were right. The preceding quote comes from J. C. Ryle's classic book, Holiness (Charles Nolan, 2001: 354-55). But oh how this quote captures our own times as well. I said in my sermon last Sunday that I think the greatest danger to the Body of Christ in our times is coming from within the church, not from without.

So many pastor/teachers are not teaching their people the Word of God, and thus they are not teaching them sound doctrine as they were commanded to do (e.g., Titus 1:9, 2:1). Therefore, the people are unable to discern sound doctrine from false doctrine, and they are sitting ducks for 10,000 heresies.

In my estimation, people like Brian McLaren are much more dangerous than people like Bart Ehrman, because McLaren claims to be an evangelical and so many just roll over and take him at his word. Never mind that he denies the fact that on the cross Jesus Christ absorbed the wrath of God for all who would be saved. Never mind that he denies hell and teaches that if hell exists the cross is false advertising for God. Never mind that he denies and otherwise undermines so many essential doctrines.

If he claims to be evangelical, the modern church just rolls over and accepts it! Oh Lord Jesus, help us.

How I pray with all of my heart--and how I call you to join me in this prayer--that Christ will cause a great revival in our land and that it would start with the clergy! Oh that texts like Ephesians 4:11-16 will again grip the hearts and minds and plans of those who have been appointed as under-shepherds of the church of Jesus Christ:

"11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Please Pray for the Believers in Kaffrine, Senegal

Some of you know that our church, Glory of Christ, supports a missionary couple in Senegal, Africa. This morning I received an urgent prayer request through them in regards to the missionary team in Kaffrine, Senegal. Please take a few minutes and pray for these brothers and sisters.

We seriously need prayer! It seems like every one of the believers here is dealing with some huge trial right now...persecution, sexual sin, a feels like the Kaffrine church is under spiritual attack. We missionaries are also feeling it, some of us are getting threatening phone calls from people upset about our ministry, some of us are stressed out and fighting with our spouses, all of us are tired and have a lot of work to do in the next three weeks. And we are all praying like crazy that there will be a multiple baptism this coming Sunday morning for Easter. We could really use some extra prayers this week. Thanks!"

Let us pray that what happened in Jerusalem in the early days of the church will happen now in Kaffrine. After the church negotiated its way through some turbulent situations, Luke writes, "And the Word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith." And the moral of the story is? The gospel is an unstoppable force in the world. Despite persecution from without and tumult within, the gospel will not be stopped!

May it be so, Lord Jesus, in Kaffrine, Senegal.

Remember our Fellow Believers in Laos

I received the following report from Voice of the Martyrs today:

"On February 22, Laotian officials arrested 15 Hmong Christian families in Bokeo district, Laos. According to Compass Direct News, the arrests occurred a day before a court sentenced nine Hmong church leaders to 15 years in prison for 'conducting Christian ministry and meetings that had grown beyond acceptable levels for Communist officials.' Compass reported, "The day before the sentencing, Laotian authorities arrived in Bai Sai Janrern village in Bokeo district with six trucks in which they hauled away eight Christian families. Authorities also arrested at least seven families from Fai village three miles away." The arrested families make up a total of 58 Hmong Christians. A Christian source told Compass, "It seems they are rounding up all Hmong Christians from Vietnam to send them back to Vietnam. What will happen to them is greatly feared and unknown." According to the Compass report, the nine Christian leaders sentenced to 15 years in prison for Christian ministry were arrested in July 2007, during a police and military raid of suspected rebels that left 13 innocent Christians dead. The Voice of the Martyrs stands with believers in Laos and encourages you to pray for these believers who have been arrested because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Ask God to give them strength and courage to forgive their persecutors."

Let us remember to hold our brothers and sisters up in prayer this day. "Remember those in prison as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated since you also are in the body" (Hebrews 13:3).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Update on Julie

I just received word that my niece, Julie, came out of the biopsy okay. She is very groggy from the medication and she's not supposed to talk for a day or so because they had to run the tubes by her vocal cords. I'm sure she'll call me in a couple of days, and I'll let you know how she's doing.

The doctors said that it will be about six weeks before the results of the biopsy come back. Please pray for Julie in this. One doctor said her lung problem is not terminal, while the lung specialist said that it actually could be. Again, she's only 35 and she's the single mother of three, and she's pretty anxious about all of this.

Thanks again for your loving partnership.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Please Pray for my Niece, Julie

I received word today that my niece Julie, who is only 35 years old, had a mild heart-attack last week, and also has some form of lung disease. She goes in for a biopsy tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., Oregon time. It will take them about 1 1/2 to complete the procedure, and unfortunately Julie will have to stay awake the whole time.

Please pray for her as she's very anxious. She is the single-mother of three children, and as you can imagine her children are very concerned about her.

Some of you may remember that my nephew Jimmy committed suicide last year, just months after his father Jim (my ex-brother-in-law) had done the same. Julie is Jimmy's sister and Jim's daughter, so needless to say it's been a very difficult ten-months for her.

So again I ask that you would hold her up in prayer as you're able. Thanks for your partnership in Christ.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Yesterday I received an update from Dave & Mary Decker, who serve Christ in Senegal with the missions organization Serving in Missions (SIM). Two parts of the report stuck out to me, first an update on Kaffrine, Sengal, and second a call to prayer for an upcoming Muslim Summit in Dakar:

"This past rainy season was disastrous for the Kaffrine area. The rains started late and ended early, and many crops didn’t get the water they needed to fully mature. Fields of millet that would normally stand 10 feet high stopped growing at 5 feet, the immature stalks preparing to form grain but then drying where they stood.

"As a result of this failed rainy season, some organizations are warning of food shortages as early as March. At the moment, if you were to visit Kaffrine, you wouldn’t see any signs of famine. But all the organizations around us as well as in West Africa as a whole are warning of widespread food shortage as food runs out in the next few months. This has been verified as we’ve talked to our friends and local government officials as well as the World Vision office here in Kaffrine. [For more background on the famine in West Africa, go to]"

And then about the Summit they wrote: "From the 8th-14th of March the Organization of Islamic Conference Summit will be meeting here in Dakar. There are expected to be at least five thousand delegates, nearly 40 heads of state, and many who are part of the traveling entourages of these people. This OIC Summit has been in the works for the past several years, and many preparations are going on, including construction of new roads and hotels-- not all of which have been completed. We don't quite know what to expect, though we are sure the traffic will be more hectic than usual! Please pray with us for God to work in the hearts and minds of these leaders, and to reveal His truth to them."

Please join me in lifting these dear missionaries in prayer, as well as the countries they serve (Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, & Liberia). Pray that the gospel will take root in West Africa, and that revival will spread across the land.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Update on Jan Korbel

Here's the latest word on Jan Korbel, one of our two supported missionaries:

"Many of you have been praying for Jan Korbel as she worked hard at fundraising for many months. Jan has accomplished her fundraising goal, and as I write to you, she is settled in language school in Kenya for a three month refresher course in Swahili before joining the team in Kenya. Jan will be moving to Kenya at the end of May, and will be helping in a number of different areas dealing with the 'Vision' component of the project mentioned above.
"Praise God with us for providing Jan's support needs; pray that these months will be profitable for her- both in terms of language mastery and to give her rest and spiritual preparation for what will be a busy task when she joins the team. "

Update on Kenya from Care of Creation

I received an e-mail this morning from the U.S. director of Care of Creation, Ed Brown. Our church supports one of their workers in Kenya, Jan Korbel. Here is how Ed describes the current situation there:

"Here in Madison Wisconsin it seems like winter will never end - the snow just keeps on coming! It has occured to me that this is how our brothers and sisters in Kenya feel about what has been happening to them. Numbers are far from accurate, but we hear of more than 1,000 killed, 300,000 forced to flee their homes, thousands of houses and shops burned across the country. Even though there is now a settlement in the works that is supposed to bring in a coalition government, it will be years - years! - before this beautiful land is itself again. We don't think much about "environment" in a crisis like this, but we should: Land issues and the pressures of population and poverty all contributed to the pent-up hostilities that exploded during this time, and God's creation will suffer yet again as poor people scramble to rebuild by cutting more trees from forests already devastated and depleted, leading to still more poverty and suffering as the environment on which they depend for survival collapses under them. Thousands of people who are out of work, because of forced displacement or because their industries have collapsed will be even deeper in poverty than they were before. These are not happy days for this once-happy country.
"We thank God that our staff, both local and expat, are safe after some tense days. Now that stability has returned normal project activities are starting to pick up again. Craig and his assistant Francis are trying to get 30,000 trees into the ground by Easter, and with it a message about God's vision for his people and his creation in Kenya. New Kenyan staff are in the process of being added to increase our administrative capacity and to allow Craig and Francis to continue their outreach efforts to Promote God's Vision, Plant God's Trees and to teach people how to Farm God's Way.
"Continue to pray for protection for Craig, Tracy and their boys, and for Francis and the rest of our local workers; for the funding we still need to cover our project costs through 2008; and for the Kenyan church as a whole that these troubled times will turn into opportunities for God's grace to shine in a dark world."

Amen, Ed, we will be standing in prayer with you and the team!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

John Owen on the Glory of Christ

In his book entitled The Glory of Christ, John Owen writes:

"The greatest desire that Christ expressed in his prayer was that his people might be with him to behold his glory (John 17:24). It is clear that in this prayer the Lord Christ was referring to his own glory and the actual sight of it (John 17:4-5). He is not concerned that his disciples should merely see how glorious he was, but that the beholding of his glory might bring encouragement, strength, satisfaction and blessedness to his disciples. This was the whole reason why his mediatory glory was given to him. When Joseph had revealed himself to his brothers, he charged them that they should tell his father of all his 'glory in Egypt' (Genesis 45:13). He did not do this to boast of his own glory, but because he knew how happy and satisfied his father would be when he knew in what a glorious position his son was. Similarly, the Lord Christ desired that his disciples should see his glory in order that they might be filled with joy and happiness for evermore."

Indeed, by the grace of Christ we live to take our joy in the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! I'm off tomorrow (since I worked this last Monday), so pray for me and I'll pray for you, that we will have eyes to see Christ and hearts to savor him and lips to speak of him and hands and feet to serve him.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pastor Roubik Hoospianmer

One of the highlights of the conference in Chicago last week was hearing from Pastor Roubik. He is a native of Iran who came to know Christ at the age of 14 and suffered much persecution for it. To save his life, he immigrated to the United States some years ago and now has a thriving ministry to Moslems in southern California, and in fact, through a satellite-tv broadcast, throughout the world.

I could say more, but it would be better of me simply to point you to his website which you can access here. Please take some time to peruse this site and pray for this precious brother. I count it a great privilege to have met him.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Pastor Luis Delgado

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a pastor named Luis Delgado. He ministers in Canete Peru, and he was asking for help paying for an evangelist that wants to help him in the work of his small church--12 adults, 40 children. To be very honest, I didn't trust the e-mail. I thought it was one of those scams where people try to coax you into giving them your account information and then bleed you dry.

So I deleted the e-mail. But Pastor Luis sent it again, and then a third time. I prayed about this and began to get the feeling like I should follow up on this so I wrote him a very short note and asked him who he was, if he could prove it, and how he got my email address. He sent me a 7-page description of his ministry, full with pictures, and he told me that he got my e-mail address via my blog.

So we've written back and forth a couple of times and I've been very moved by what he's written me. We're still working through a couple of issues so I don't want to say too much about the ministry at this point but for now will you please join with me in praying for Pastor Luis and his small flock.

In as much as you do it for the least of these, you do it for Jesus himself.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

We Made it Home

Thanks again for holding us up in prayer. Kevin and I had a great drive home yesterday. We meditated on 1 Timothy 4:14 together which says, "Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you." We mused about what Timothy's gift was, and when and how it was bestowed on him. We further discussed the balance between God's sovereignty over our gifts and our responsibility in fanning them into flame. Kevin recalled a time when Pastor David Livingston of Bethlehem Baptist Church commented that John Piper is "committed to his gifts." That is, he's committed to developing and deploying them to the fullest for the glory of God, the good of others, and the joy of his own soul. We agreed that all Christians are to do the same, and we encouraged one another in our respective gifts.

Then we discussed some upcoming meetings and some strategies we're pondering for carrying out the life and mission of the church. All to say, the Lord was with us and helped us to redeem all the time he had given us on the road.

Although I wasn't able to see my best friend and wife last night, I thoroughly enjoyed being reunited with my daughter. We went out on a date together and, in our own ways, let each other know how much we missed each other. It was a sweet time in the Lord.

I want to thank you one more time for holding us up in prayer, and I want to assure you that God answered your prayers. Wednesday through Friday were sweet and productive days for us, and they were so because our kind and gracious God hears and answers prayer. So thanks for your caring concern and your partnership in ministry.

May we live with passion for the glory of Christ this day!