INDIA JOURNAL AND BLOGS
Rev. Dr. Jerry Schmoyer
Christian Training Organization
252 W. State St
Doylestown, PA 18901
MY INDIA JOURNAL Aug 4, 2010 to April, 2011
August 4, 2010
WE are going!!!
Thanks to the wonderful generosity of a friend who sacrificially shared frequent flyer miles with us, both Nancy and I are going to India. We leave on January 5. Nancy returns January 20 and I will return February 9.
Our first week will be spent in northern Indiawith Chris and Debbie. I have been asked to do numerous teaching sessions on spiritual warfare. Some conferences will be just for pastors, others for any who want to come. We are trying to have my Spiritual Warfare Handbook translated into the local dialect for use when there. PRAY God will enable us to have this handbook translated and printed in time for this. Also start praying now for God’s protection and use of these conferences. This subject in this area need lots of prayer. Northern India is said to be the most unevangelized area on earth. Satan has a strong hold on this place so pray God would even know start breaking that hold so the Kingdom can advance there.
The rest of the time in India will be spent in central Indiawith the pastor I have been working with each time I go there. There will be lots of travel to rural areas for conferences with pastors who have never had any training. Church meetings, children’s and teen meeting will also be common. Pray God will help me prepare for what He would have me share with these special people. A lot of what we can do depends on the finances we have available. Food and transportation costs have risen greatly in India in the last year so pray God provides financially so we can help these pastors come to these conferences. Finances are also needed for translating and printing the Spiritual Warfare handbook for this section of northern India. If God puts it on your heart to give you can make donations payable to Main Street Baptist Church. Write ‘India Fund’ on the memo line. Mail it to Jerry Schmoyer, 252 W. State Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. Giving to your local church comes first, so don’t neglect the needs there. Thanks!!!
Please pray for us as we plan and prepare for this special time.
Sept 21, 2010
Please keep praying for my father. He feels OK and spent the weekend with us. Now he’s at his own place but his blood work Friday and today are not good and progressively getting worse. I’m not sure what they can or will do about it. He sees his doctor Friday and Nancy will go with him. Pray the bleeding stops before then, and pray for wisdom as they make decisions concerning how to care for him. Thanks!
Please pray for our trip to India in January as well. Pastor Moses and Chris Mauger are making plans and arrangements for our time there. I will be there 5 weeks so we can have many pastor’s conferences and training sessions. However prices for transportation, food and other things have really increased in India and the conferences will cost more. Pray God will provide the needed finances so we can accomplish all He would have us accomplish.
My Spiritual Warfare Handbookis being translated into Hindi for use in northern India. The Telugu translation in central India has been very well accepted and greatly used. Pray God protect and speed the translation and printing of the Hindi edition so it can be ready when we get there. Pray God would provide the finances needed for it as well.
Thanks SO much! Let me know what I can pray about for you.
October 29, 2010
Plans are moving very rapidly for our trip to India, which is just a little over 2 months away. I have been getting reports from the pastors who were at the past conferences about how those sessions have greatly improved their ministry. Also the Spiritual Warfare Handbook in Telugu (southern India) is being very well received and used. Thanks for your prayers and giving for those ministries.
Please pray as in India now for our trip there. We leave Jan 5. Nancy will be with me for 2 weeks and then I will stay for an additional 3 weeks. There are far more needs than we can possibly meet so pray for wisdom in deciding how to best use the time. We will plans are currently being made be having any more pastors conferences than in the past and t looks like we will be reaching twice as many pastors this coming trip.
Thanks for the money you have contributed for these things. Pray God would continue to provide for our upcoming expenses. We will need money to help pay for the translation of the Spiritual Warfare handbook into Hindi for northern India. Also it is time to send our support for the five orphan children we sponsor for another year. Costs are rising sharply in India, especially food and transportation, so it will cost more for the pastor’s conferences. It is estimated we will need an additional $5000 so the pastors and their wives can come and eat for free. Many pastors are asking if we can again provide some bicycles for them to get around ($100 each) or help with their church building needs. In addition, there is the cost for Pastor Moses and myself to travel and live in various parts of India as we travel to places where pastors have never had any kind of training. Please pray God would provide for this.
If God leads you to contribute to this you can send your check made out to Main Street Baptist Church, to Jerry Schmoyer, 252 W. State St., Doylestown, PA 18901. Write India Fund on the memo line. You will receive a tax deduction statement at the end of the year.
Thanks again – your prayers and support are very greatly appreciated! God bless!
November 18, 2010
Plans are moving along quickly for our INDIA TRIP. It’s a little over 6 weeks away! Pray that plans continue to come together in Lucknow and the Hyderabad area. There will be many more pastor’s conferences. We’ll be ministering to almost double the number as last time. Finances are still needed to be able to walk through all these open doors so pray God would provide what we need in the next few weeks. Its also time for us to send our donation for the orphans we support so pray that money would be provided as well.
Our MARRIAGE RETREATin Lancaster, PA, will be March 11-13, 2011. It is a great time of fun, sharing, learning and relaxation. Cost is $225 (room, 4 sessions, breakfast and snacks, indoor pools, nearby outlets, etc.). Email me SOON if you’d like more information or to register.
MY FATHERis living in his apartment and doing well. He is almost back to where he was before this all started. Thank you so very much for your prayers – that’s what made the difference for the doctors weren’t able to help him! Continue to pray he would have an desire to grow closer to God and He would keep on reading his Bible and praying. God bless and have a great Thanksgiving!
December 2, 2010
In less than 5 weeks we’ll be in India! Plans and preparations are going very well. I’d like to have more money for pastors conferences but we’ll make do with whatever we have. I feel a strong need to totally immerse every part of this trip in prayer and covet your prayers. Here’s what I am praying for. Please join me in prayer for these needs.
PRAYER REQUESTS FOR INDIA
Enough money to be able to live, minister, travel and provide 10+ pastors conferences
Safe, efficient & timely travel (7 plane flights; many long train rides plus much car & motorcycle travel)
Good health, enough rest, energy, mental & physical alertness and stamina (healthy food & water)
God’s blessing on and protection of the spiritual warfare conferences, pastors conferences and all ministry and speaking opportunities, group as well as individual
Jerry be open and sensitive to the Spirits leading and guiding in all he says and does
People set free from bondage to sin, Satan, legalism, etc and serve God in freedom
Blessing and spiritual growth for Jerry, Nancy, the Maugers, Moses and family during this time
Believers to be motivated, educated and encouraged
Unbelievers to be convicted and come to Jesus for salvation
Pastors & wives to be trained, encouraged, equipped mentally and spiritually to minister
Books, notes and teaching information continue to bear fruit for God long after we are gone
Thanks and God bless!
All the plans are finalized for our trip to India. I have my daily schedule of conferences as well. I’m really looking forward to a great time of ministering and growing there. It is a privilege and honor to be able to do this. Thanks so much for your prayers and giving.
Here’s a summary of what I’ll be doing:
5 days of spiritual warfare conferences in Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow and several local villages)
20 days of pastors conferences (include sp war sessions) in Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad and 12 other locations)
5 Sundays and weekday evenings I will be speaking in local churches
Speak average of 4+ times a day, 45 min to 1 ½ hour messages
Sleep at a 15 different places
Travel: 7 airline flights, 5 overnight train rides, car, motorcycle, bike, walk
In addition, its time to send support for the 5 orphan children we support in India. We contribute $25 a month for 4 of them and $50 a month for the boy who has AIDS and needs special meds and help. That amounts to $1800 for the year. Pray God will provide so we can again help these special children. A picture of them is attached.
Thanks for praying for my father. He is back to functioning as he did before all this started. The doctors weren’t able to help him – God did it all. Thanks for praying!
December 29, 2010
One week from NOW we leave for the airport. The normal great anticipation along with overwhelming feelings of inadequacy are starting to build. Your prayers are greatly, greatly appreciated. Nancy and I leave next Wednesday, Jan 5. She returns Jan 19 and I return Feb. 9. I will attack a copy of the itinerary and daily prayer requests. The paper shows you what I/we will be doing at the exact times you pray so you can focus your prayers where really needed.
Please pray now for these things:
–Spiritual Warfare Handbook translation into Hindi and printing of 1,000 copies is almost finished. It should arrive in early January. Pray it arrives BEFORE we do, not after (as I know Satan would prefer). This is a very important tool so please pray it arrives on time.
-For God’s power to be evident in all of us as we minister for Him there. Especially since our focus this trip will be to teach about spiritual warfare and how to have victory over the darkness. Satan and his demons will do anything to keep the light out. Pray for wisdom, protection, safety, smoothness of travel, freedom from bondage for those in captivity, and God to be glorified.
-For God to give us the words He would have us speak. God has put Exodus 4:12 in my heart as I prepare: “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” So I ask you to “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19)
-Thanks for praying for our granddaughter. Her condition has greatly improved. The doctors are still keeping a close watch so please keep praying that her little body would develop in a normal, healthy way.
I’ll keep you updated as much as possible when we are gone. I have no idea if I will have internet access after the first 10 days, though. So please keep praying even if you don’t hear from me. I will put blogs on the church web site if possible (http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/asia-mission-journal/) and add pictures to the church web site when possible (http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/photo-album/). Thanks and God bless!
January 5, 2011
We leave in 3 hours for India. I’ll be teaching about spiritual warfare everywhere I go, and the focal account I will use is when Jesus went to the Gadarenes and freed the man in the graveyard. If you know the story you’ll remember that there was a great storm which could have drown them and kept them from arriving, but Jesus simply spoke to the storm and it stopped. We know Jesus is greater than anything the enemy can do to interfere with our ministering in India. Please join us in prayer for a safe, quick trip to Lucknow. Thanks!
I have been asked to keep details about our trip to India confidential for safety sake. It is not a good time in India for Christians anywhere in India, and foreigners really raise suspicion. I am told that the government isn’t stable enough to protect Christians as they should. I won’t be putting anything on the church web site or anywhere on line. Feel free to pass on my prayer requests, but just to people you know. The places I have listed as where we will be going are tourist and historical sites as well, that’s why the locations are chosen. That will make it easier to travel and move in those areas.
Last Sunday in church I preached about how God wants us to be willing to get out of our comfort zone and take risks in following Him. It was about Peter getting out of the boat and then walking on water! If you, like me, want things safe and comfortable then read the attached blog which summarizes the sermon. You can listen to the whole thing on the church web site at http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/current/. It’s called “Walking on Water.”
Thanks for your prayers!
WALKING ON WATER – 1
(Friday, Dec. 31, 2010) When I lived in Dallas in the late 60’s and early 70’s I collected a full set of drinking glasses with the Dallas Cowboy logo on them and the years they were Super Bowl champions up to that time. I bought one a week at the gas station near me. When you filled up with gas you could buy another one. I took them home, carefully wrapped them up, and kept them safe in a box. Whenever I moved I carefully moved the box. It was valuable, irreplaceable to me – the gas station no longer sold the glasses!
One day after we were married several years Nancy discovered the box. I told her all about it. You’ll never believe what she did! She took the glasses out of the box and put them in the cabinet with our other glasses! She made some excuse about wanting to enjoy them and use them. But what was she thinking!! They could get chipped, lost or even broken! Can you feel my pain?
I know, some of you are identifying with Nancy – ‘go sister!” you’re saying! It’s not that I mind using them, but first I must guarantee that they will be safe. I don’t want to risk anything happening to them. If she could guarantee they would be finem, OK. It’s the RISK I want to avoid at all costs.
You see, the way I was with my Dallas Cowboy drinking glasses is the way I LIVE MY LIFE. I don’t like to take risks, I want to play it safe. Of course I don’t enjoy life to the full that way – but it avoids pain and loss. Only God didn’t give me life to hide it away somewhere safe, to go through it without taking risks and never really use or enjoy His gift to the full
I could end my life with those glasses still safely stored away, no good to me or anyone else.
I could end my life the same way – safely stored away from all risk. But that would be a waste of life.
I’ve always liked what John David Thoreau said in Walden Pond. He said He didn’t want to live his life in a way that, when he came to die, he realized he hadn’t ever really lived. I’ve always liked that and wanted to follow that, but also stay safe & risk-free. They both can’t be done. It’s one or the other!
Peter faced a similar dilemma in Mark 14:13-33. The disciples were alone in a boat in a terrible, life-threatening storm. Jesus came to them but not in the way they were expecting. He was walking on the water! Peter was willing to take a risk and walk on water as well in order to get to Jesus, but first he had to make sure Jesus wanted him to do that so he asked Jesus to tell him to come (Mark 14:27-29). It’s important that we only take the risks God wants us to take. Doing something foolish or impulsive without His definite leading bring disaster.
However when Jesus told him to come he got out of the boat and started walking to Jesus on the water! It was a great risk – but Jesus was with him. The greater the risk we take in following God the greater we experience His presence and power in our lives. But we must take the risk first.
Peter couldn’t have done it on his own without Jesus’ help. What in your life are you doing that you can’t do on your own? Where are you so dependent on His power and protection that if He would withdraw them you would absolutely crumble? These situations come in our lives in many ways. Perhaps you’re trying to love a person who has hurt you, or forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it. It could be you’re trying to live a life of honesty and integrity. Or maybe you’re struggling to put the needs of your family before your own needs. Possibly you are struggling with an unfair situation at work and you don’t want to get bitter, or you are trying to stay on the victory side of a sin that keeps pursuing you. Then, too, it could be God wanting you to make a major change in your career or life in order to better serve Him. There are many actions in the life of a Christian who is following God that are risky.
Remember, if you want to walk on water you must get out of the boat. The disciples were safe in the boat, like I like to be safe. Getting out can be embarrassing, even dangerous! Peter was willing to risk that to be with Jesus. Will you?
WALKING ON WATER – 2
(Monday, Jan 3, 2011) Peter was willing to risk getting out of the boat to walk on water because that was the way to get closer to Jesus. Jesus called him from the familiarity of the boat to the impossibility of walking on water, but when Jesus calls He enables as well. Still, the challenge for Peter was getting out of the boat! Staying was very tempting.
What’s your boat? Where do you hide for safety and security? What substitutes for going all out in obedience to God? Where do you flee for protection from the fear in your life? Is it in a relationship, someone you have faith in to care for you? Is it in your money and possessions? It could be your job or even some ‘secret sin’ you run to when you want to escape stretching.
Peter wanted to be like his Master, no matter the cost. So he was willing to get out of the boat and trust Jesus with the rest. And for awhile all was great! He actually walked on water, something humanly impossible for him. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus he was fine. But soon something happened. The terrible conditions around him caught his attention and he got his eyes off Jesus.
Actually the storm and the waves around him weren’t a bad thing. They provided an opportunity for him to trust Jesus all the more! When we play it safe we don’t have to trust for we feel we have everything under control. Then we never see His provision or feel His presence in that very special way. When I am all about being safe I don’t stretch and grow. It’s all about me and keeping away from opportunities to trust.
The most common command in the Bible is “fear not.” Fear disrupts faith and becomes our biggest obstacle to trusting and obeying God. Its great that God created us with the ability to creatively imagine things, but when we use that to enlarge potential difficulties and then respond with fear it is all wrong.
Living in fear means loss of self-esteem, joy, intimacy and availability to God. Walking on water means keeping our eyes on Him as we risk everything to draw closer to Him. Walking on water happens one small step at a time! It takes you out of your comfort zone and little by little moves you further and further from your ‘security’ until all you have left for security is God Himself. And that’s the whole purpose of it! Your faith grows as you see God provide. Your spiritual comfort zone widens. Believe me – I know by experience. I’m a stay-at-home person who now spends a month in India each year. The process is very difficult for me, but the product makes it well worth it. I have to keep my eyes on the product, not the process.
Where God asks you to get out of the boat and walk on water is right at the point of your fear. I’ve always feared traveling, especially alone. I’ve feared the unknown, being away from my family, having to speak to groups of people I didn’t know and being in a totally different culture. So what does God do? He gives me a burden to minister in India so I have to confront those fears. He doesn’t remove the obstacles but shows He will overcome them. He won’t remove them but He will help me through them, one by one, as I face them.
Where are your greatest fears? What is God asking you to do that gets you out of your comfort zone? Where is He asking you to walk on water?
Henrietta Mears, the great Bible teacher and wonderful Christian woman, was asked on her death bed what she would do differently if she had to do it all over again. Her response: “I would have trusted Jesus more.” I’m sure we will also say that when we get to heaven. Now we have a chance to do something about it, though. We can start trusting no matter what, then we won’t have to wish we’d have done it differently.
WALKING ON WATER – 3
(Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011) Peter got his eyes on Jesus and stepped out of the boat. He actually walked on water – something impossible for him to do but quite possible when God tells us to do it. However Peter did what we often do – got his eyes off Jesus and onto his circumstances. He looked at the waves and the storm around him and his fear came back. It’s only when we stay focused on Jesus that we can have victory over our fears. When he looked at Jesus the storm was just as strong, God didn’t change his conditions. The circumstances around him didn’t change, but Peter’s perspective of them did change.
Did he assume God would stop the storm for him? Do we expect that? No wonder we are disappointed when it seems He doesn’t ‘answer’ our prayers. He doesn’t stop the storm but He helps us through it! Sure there is risk. That’s where our opportunity to trust comes in. We won’t grow without taking a risk. Our physical muscles grow when stretched, and our spiritual muscles of faith grow the same way.
Of course it is dangerous outside the boat, but its more dangerous in the boat if that isn’t God’s will. There is no place safer than in the center of God’s will! Perhaps the fact that the boat was about to sink helped motivate Peter to take his leap of faith. So, too, God shakes us up so we feel uncomfortable and are willing to risk trusting Him. After all, being in the storm with Jesus is saver than being in the boat without Him!
This process of stretching and growing is a slow, gradual process, not a once-for-all giant step. When I was a young boy I feared our Sunday afternoon car rides with my family. I thought the car would break down away from home and then what would happen? Now I am traveling to the other side of the world, living in a strange culture with no one who has my skin color or native language. God has brought it about gradually. My first trip to India was with a group of a dozen others. The second trip with a very small group and my third trip I went alone. God gradually stretches our faith muscles so they are strong enough for the next challenge. God worked with my fear of speaking to people as well.
Peter did walk on water, but he did start to sink. Then he did the right thing, though – he got his eyes back on Jesus and was restored. Don’t quit when you fail. Like a baby learning to walk, get up and try again each time you fail. We try, we stumble, we try again, we do better next time. We can’t sit around waiting to get it perfect the first time, that will never happen. Sir Edmond Hillary made several unsuccessful attempts to climb Mt. Everest. It had never been done by anyone. Each time he failed he tried again. One time he stood at the mountain and said, “I’ll defeat you yet, because you’re as big as you’re going to get but I’m still growing!” He learned from every failure and finally he made it to the top!
Why should we risk getting out of the boat? Because God calls us to it, it’s the only way to real growth, it’s the way true faith develops (there are no shortcuts!) and the alternative is boredom, stagnation and no growth. That’s what happened to the disciples. They staying in the boat. They became ‘boat potatoes.’ They played it safe, or so they thought. But did they really? Look at what it cost them – an opportunity to grow and get closer to Jesus. Would it be safer for a baby to never try to walk, to stay in a crib its whole life? Forty three years old and still bottle fed and diapered? Is that really an option? Yet for many Christians, this is what they choose. They never use their spiritual gifts to the full, never see victory in their lives, don’t know Jesus in a deeply personal intimate way, don’t do anything for the kingdom, don’t touch any lives for Jesus, have no satisfaction or accomplishment, and there are no special rewards or blessings to look forward to in heaven. They never get out of the boat, yet they wonder why the Christian life is so boring and unsatisfying, why God seems so far away and prayer doesn’t ‘work’ for them.
My glasses are safely wrapped and packed away. But for what? They are safe from risk, but that’s it. One day it will be too late to use them, too late to go back and make them count for something. We only get one chance at life so we better use it well.
In the parable of the talents the one who played it safe and buried his talent to avoid risk ended up losing everything. When Jesus returns and asks how you have used the opportunities He has given you, what will you say? Will having played it safe seem so important then? It’s time to get out of the boat and stop making excuses. Don’t wait for a better time, the present is all we will ever have.
Suppose God offered to mail you a DVD of your life as it would have been if you had taken the risk of trusting Him in tough situations? Suppose you had made your decisions based on what He wanted instead of what was safest? How would your life be different now? What would your relationship with Him be like? In the parable of the talents the master gave the faithful steward charge of many more things – he was blessed and rewarded for all eternity.
When God calls you to get out of the boat He will give you the power to walk on water. The storm won’t stop but His presence will be with you. It takes faith to take that first small step. It means you have total trust in Him. It demands you keep your eyes on Him, not the storm around you. Its safer in the boat, but if you want to advance towards Jesus you must get out of the boat!
January 8, 2011
We took another couple of small steps on water today and God held us up! We had our first teaching sessions – spiritual warfare conference which lasted all day. We had 2 morning sessions and one long afternoon session (combined 2 into one). We did that because it is quite cold and that makes everything harder for everyone. It is in the 40’s and 50’s (mid afternoon only). It’s very foggy and gloomy. They are setting record low temperatures at night. The problem is that no one has any source of heat in their homes. All buildings are concrete or brick with concrete or stone floors. There is no carpet anywhere. And we didn’t come prepared for weather THIS cold. Others suffer more than us because we are more used to the cold. Everyone, including us, wears 4 and 5 layers trying to stay warm. I don’t think my feet will ever feel warm again! Its even cold sleeping at night. I don’t know what we’d do without Nancy’s hot flashes!
The first time I was in Lucknow (this is my 3rd time) it was July and therefore up to 120 during the day. The monsoons would cause terrible downpours and massive flooding everywhere. The people, especially the poor people (which is about 90% of them) suffer greatly in either extreme of weather. How thankful we are for the blessings God has given us in Pennsylvania!
The spiritual warfare conference went very well. It’s a deep subject to start with, and talking through a translator to those in an entirely different culture doesn’t help make it any easier. I went through the Bible tracing the development of the conflict between God and Satan. I applied that to us and how we can have victory in the battle. The end was an extended time of prayer leading them through deliverance. There were about 35 or 40 people there – very good considering the weather and how everyone tries to stay home and not go out. We made some new friends and have a great time of fellowship as well as prayer with some of them. God’s presence was with us and He used it all for whatever He chose. We thank Him for His faithfulness!
Tomorrow I will be speaking in a church about spiritual warfare. We will be doing visiting and other things in the afternoon and evening. Last night we slept from 7 PM to 4:30 AM – not quite on India schedule yet!
Thanks for your prayers, please keep remembering us. I’ll attach some pictures for you to see.
January 9, 2011
We had a very good service in an Indian Salvation Army church today. Nancy shared her testimony and I spoke on the demonized man in Gadarenes (Mark 5). Both went very well. We spent awhile talking and praying with the people. The pastor and his wife spent a lot of time with us, even gave us a meal. We got along very well with them. Then we visited some friends from previous visits. I’ll tell you more about those people tomorrow. I now want to cover some things I didn’t include yesterday.
Since India is all about people (1 billion of them) I thought I’d introduce you to some of the ones we have met. We come because of the people, not for the sights, smells or sounds – just the people. I don’t have much time with them, and communication limits hinder what time we do have, but God always reminds me that each believer I cross paths with is someone I will be able to sit down with in heaven. Then we will have wonderful, deep fellowship. This just set the groundwork for that.
RACHEL is a young Indian woman who uses her time serving the Lord at OM (Operation Mobilization) instead of developing a career of her own. She comes from a village an hour away and visits her family each month. She is quiet and reserved. She attended the day long spiritual warfare conference and ate lunch with us. You can see on the picture of us eating. She is sitting across the table from Nancy and wearing gloves to eat. She told me that everything I said was if God was speaking directly to her.
LUCY became a friend of Nancy’s at the conference. She is a very pleasant Indian woman who works in child evangelism in Singapore. She was greatly impressed by the effectiveness of my magic tricks in communicating truth to children. I showed her some simple ones she could make and use. When home I want to buy some to send to her. She is sitting alongside Nancy in the dining room.
My translator at the day long spiritual warfare conference was RAKESH, a young Indian man who came to the Lord as a teenager. He has been serving the Lord ever since, first with Campus Crusade for Christ and now as a pastor. He has a MBA and earns his own support so he can minister without a salary. He has a great, great love for the Word of God. He reads and memorizes as much as he can. He likes reading and memorizing in English because he says it is closer to the original than the Hindi translation. He was impressed with my limited ability to quote Scripture in Hindi. He is on the picture of me at the conference, standing by me in the front.
ANANT JEEVAN (A.J.) is a very friendly, talkative young man who made us feel welcome from the time we arrived. He is from the highest class and works with Southern Baptist Missionaries whose focus is to reach that class for Christ. They are the hardest ones to reach but are key because they are the leaders and property holders in India. They are the main force trying to keep the caste system in place and oppose Christianity because some many Dahlits (untouchables, so far down they are considered way below the lowest class) are turning to Jesus. He is in part supported by a church in South Carolina which allows him to have time to minister. After the conference he asked for prayer to have victory over doubts demons keep putting into his mind.
Thanks so much for your prayers and support. God is clearly with us here and it’s wonderful having Nancy, but for this introvert home-body its still very, very hard. I’d never even consider it if it wasn’t something I know God want me to do. He blesses us, but it is still very, very difficult for me. Thanks!
Tomorrow we go to a local village for a 2-day spiritual warfare conference for pastors. Some of these men came last time when I spoke on the Bible overview. They are newly converted from Islam and are very intelligent, well educated men but this is a new area for them. Pray God would give me His words and He would be glorified in this. Pray those whom He would have participate come and join us. The weather really keeps people at home!
January 10, 2011
We faced a unique challenge here today – too many people showed up! There were over 50, twice what we expected and were prepared for (meals and housing). Some drove 10+ hours (all night) in the cold weather to get here. All are new believers – 3 years ago none of them were Christians. Some have not made a final commitment but I led in a prayer today in which they could commit to Jesus. They are sharp, well educated Muslims. But 3 years ago they would have hated each other for they came from different sects within Islam. Now they are loving each other and sharing what they have with each other. The fellowship over meals and in the dorms is very good for them as well. I loved the privilege of having 2 days to develop and explain salvation and spiritual warfare to a group that is very open and interested (taking lots of notes). As always, thy love the magic!
Tomorrow we continue/conclude so please pray for a special time of God’s presence. The meeting is held in a Hindu conference center – we went early and prayed around and in the place. Thanks for your continued prayers.
Here are the people I met with yesterday. Their pictures are attached.
SANJAY (ROBINSON) is the pastor of the Salvation Army church in Lucknow. It was started by his father who has since retired and died. His whole family is involved in ministry. His brother works for World Vision. He and his wife showed us great love and hospitality. We bonded very nicely with them and had a great time of Christian fellowship. They are a couple we could become very close to if we lived near them (that will have to come in heaven). His wife also grew up in a Christian home. Both families have been Christians for generations, a rarity in India. Her family lived in a predominately Muslim area and suffered much persecution through the years. That is not rare in India.
ANIL (PORTER) is a middle age pastor at whose church I spoke last time here and with whom I have been in touch since then. We visited in his home Sunday evening. He, his wife, and his children are well educated and very intelligent. He and his wife are school teachers with various degrees in history and English literature. He pastors without a salary. His testimony is interesting. He grew up in a nominal Catholic home, although his mother was Hindu. His sister was paralyzed until her 20’s when she had a dream that Jesus spoke to her and said she would be healed. Three days later she was totally perfect again. That so impacted the family that they became believers. Anil was working on a masters degree at the time.
Before we met he had introduced a young man and woman to each other. The young woman was from a family that recently became Christian. As a result no one they knew would marry their daughter, and now they wanted a Christian husband. So they asked the pastor (Anil) to find a Christian husband (all marriages here, even among Christians, are arranged). Anil asked other pastors if they know of a strong Christian man looking for a wife. Coming from a Muslim background, like her, was also important. Not only would they have that in common, but if her extended family thought she was marrying someone other than a good Muslim there would be extreme physical danger for her and her family. A young man with a Muslim name would cover that. So without extended family or caste support the church becomes their only family and support. Anil found such a man and introduced them this afternoon. They are never alone so he sat with them. He said the girl was shy and wouldn’t look up or say anything the whole time. They will have several weeks t see if they want to continue. Either one can end it at any time, but unless there is a strong reason to do so they trust those who make the match to know what is best.
The cold continues to be the major factor we face these days. Schools have been closed and many activities cancelled. People don’t venture outside unless absolutely necessary, although staying inside doesn’t really make much difference. Temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s aren’t bad for us at home, especially this time of the winter, but here homes are open to the elements and there is no source of heat. Thus homes are as cold inside as it is outside. Everything is concrete and stone, so floors and walls hold the cold. The dampness is strong as well – garments left to dry take days to air dry. We wear 3 pairs of socks, 2 pants (Nancy wears 3), 4 layers of shirts and then a jacket and a hat. To sleep we add another layer and get totally under the blankets. About 3 PM if the sun is out and you can find a sunny place with no wind the temperature gets into the lower 60’s, but that doesn’t last long and it doesn’t penetrate the homes. At least I don’t have to be barefoot to teach, although socks (even 3 pairs) don’t seem to do a lot of good standing on cold concrete all day. And to think I was looking forward to a break from the winter cold at home!
January 11, 2011
We concluded our 2-day spiritual warfare conference today. It was great!!! The results far exceeded my expectations. I felt God’s presence helping me to teach and explain spiritual warfare, but also was able to go into detail about the basics of our faith: Jesus’ person and work, God’s love for us, grace and mercy, etc. It’s pretty amazing to be an American in a Hindi conference center teaching exMuslims about Jesus Christ. The closeness and Christian love that develops quickly between them and myself is wonderful to behold.
An interesting sidelight is that we discovered that this is the conference center Bill and Melinda Gates use when they come to this area to fund the social programs they support. They do their training in the same place we taught about Jesus!
An interesting sidelight that sheds light on things is that several perceptive mature believers here feel there is a spirit of stress (pressure, burdens, etc.) that is the opposite of peace and relaxation and that works against those in this town. It is clearly something demonic. That would go a long way to help understanding what I felt last year and this year when here. I thought the first week was transition and by the time I got to Hyderabad I was better adjusted, but this helps me better understand how to pray. Please pray against this for us. It is worse during the night, when we awake after 4 or 5 hours of sleep. It is very, very difficult to relax my mind and to get back to sleep.
Tomorrow we travel to the villages to visit some of the people in their homes. It will be an enjoyable time and very interesting to spend time in their homes. We are visiting the families of some of the pastors who attended the conference. Pray God would bless our last day here and we would be a blessing to others. Also pray for our flight to Delhi and Hyderabad on Thursday morning (our time). Unless God really does something miraculous our flight will be delayed because of fog and that means we’ll miss our connecting flight. Trying to walk through that maze in a foreign country is not easy. We don’t have a way to communicate with Moses who will picking us up, either. Please pray God would have this travel go smoothly and quickly. Thanks!
If you are interested in hearing about some more people, here are 2 more:
MAXWELL (DAVIS) is another man I met last trip and have stayed in touch with. I was even invited to his son’s recent marriage. He lives in the same building as Anil. He is very highly education and teaches, counsels and ministers in many areas. Mainly his ministry is in spiritual warfare and marriage teaching/counseling. We share those interests in common. He is a refined gentleman about my age, very easy to talk to and very knowledgeable about many things. I always learn much when talking with him. His wife has a special testimony. Her mother was the second wife of her father and he much preferred the first so ignored the second and wouldn’t support her or her family. He even tried killing her at one time. She found peace and hope in Jesus but faced many dangers herself in trying to follow Him and letting those around her know about her faith. It was a difficult life she lived but has matured her in Christ and gives her a special spiritual glow when she speaks.
NOMAN is a very friendly, outgoing young man whom we met in the airport when the flight we were all to take from Delhi to Lucknow was delayed because of fog. We spent a couple of enjoyable hours eating breakfast and talking with him. He is a young Indian man who works for a computer company which contracts with major American car manufacturers and other companies. He spends several months with a company writing technical software for them, then moves to another assignment. He has lived in virtually all the major US metropolitan areas and finds Americans very friendly and the country a wonderful place to come to. Noman is Hindu and finds a temple wherever he is to worship. Since Hindus have many thousands of gods the ones his family worships are different than the ones worshipped in the temples he visits, but he goes anyway. In a few years he will tell his parents he is ready to marry and they will find a young woman who is Hindu and of their caste and area whom they think would make a good match. He trusts his parents judgment and can reject the woman if he isn’t satisfied. She can reject him as well. He will spent a couple months getting to know her, probably by phone since he will be in the USA. Then he will ask his company for a transfer to their Lucknow office and settle down here with her.
January 12, 2011
We don’t have to be concerned about our flight tomorrow being delayed when we get to the airport – it already has been! Instead of leaving at 7 and arriving in Hyderabad at 11:30 AM now we leave here at 11 and arrive at Hyderabad at 7:30 PM. We have a 5 hour layover in Delhi and won’t get to Moses’ home until 9 PM or so. Thus we’ll have to cancel all our plans tomorrow, including spending time with 2 Southern Baptist missionaries who work there. I’ve been trying to connect with them for years and this is the only time it would work this trip. Friday and Saturday have pastor’s conferences all day and Sunday is church and an overnight train ride to the coast and the villages there. I won’t get back to Hyderabad until the day before I leave. So…….
We had a very nice, enjoyable day in the villages. The weather was cold in the morning, in fact they set a 23 year record low last night (34). Half a dozen farmers have been taking their lives each day for their crops are being destroyed and they won’t be able to pay back their loans, so to avoid the shame of that they die. However it did warm up nicely this afternoon and that felt good! One good thing about the cold is that Nancy only got 2 mosquito bites so far. Anyway, we love the villages – like living in a National Geographic’s picture spread! The people and life are so different!!! Nancy helped a woman make bread and even made recommendations for a very sick man. I’ll tell you the stories of some of the people we spent time with at the pastor’s conference and today:
PAUL (Sadeek) was my translator last time here and this time as well. We really bonded closely and have been in touch through the past year. We went to his mud and straw hut in the village of Maholie. It is clean but very primitive. Yet he is a scholar in several languages, including Urdo and Arabic, and fluently speaks at least 5 that I know of! He has been a believer the longest, about 15 years, and is responsible for numerous churches and believers in his area. He has personally led hundreds of people to Christ. He has 100 baptized believers in his church and another 100 who are believers but not baptized yet. He comes from a Moslem background and was befriended by a believer who led him to Christ. A little while ago he was giving out Bibles and preaching and someone attacked him and started beating him, Chris Mauger was nearby and rescued him by quickly driving him away in his car. A little while later the man who attacked him was saved by reading one of the Bible Paul had been giving out.
Paul’s wife, SARAH, is a sweet, loving woman. They have 4 boys and one young daughter. She helps everyone she can and is often feeding and sharing with the poor. About 4 years ago when Paul was away a Hindu imam came into their home and hit and beat her. Her children were young and watched it happen. They have grown to courageously serve the Lord. The oldest, 15, started a Bible study in his public school. The next brother speaks often for the Lord. There is a good ending to the Imam story. He later came to accept the Lord and so did his wife. We met her today at Paul’s house, she is a fine Christian woman.
Pray for these fine people who live and serve on the front lines for the Lord. They are doing a great job but really need our prayers!
Thanks and God bless!
January 13, 2011
Here are some more stories and pictures. I don’t have time for more since we will be traveling all day. Pray for things to go smoothly and quickly!!!
ANNISE is one of the finest young pastors I have met in India. He has little training but has started a church of 35 believers in Delhi. He has been shunned, beaten, kicked and beaten up for his faith. He wasn’t always a Christian, though.
Annise has droopsy on one side of his face and it was paralyzed. Paul had given him a book when he was distributing literature one day, he read it and called for Paul to talk and pray. He was healed and came to the Lord that way. His spiritual growth has been great. He lead his whole family to the Lord, 5 sisters and 1 brother. He grew up Moslem and his family is the only Christian family in a town that is totally Moslem. It has 68 mosques and is called “Little Pakistan.” We quickly went from the car to his house and just as quickly back so as to not arouse attention by our presence.
Annise has grown greatly and is a real source of spiritual power for many. He was at the conference and we ate a meal in his house. He now lives and ministers in Delhi, he makes garments to support himself financially.
AYYUB (JOB), also of Mulsim background, was totally paralyzed 4 years ago. He went to doctors and healers but no one could help. One night he heard someone calling him, saying he would be healed. This went on for many nights. This Voice told him he needed more than physical healing, though. It said “You need to meet the eternal God Who can heal you and give you salvation as well. The peace giver is Jesus Christ who alone can give you salvation.” He started searching in his mind, callout out to God. He had been friends with Paul in college many years ago and God brought them together again. Paul told him about salvation and prayed for him. He was healed and saved! He came to the pastor’s conference and was at Annise’s house today as well. He has led many to Christ, including Izhar, who was also at the conference and Annise’s house. He teaches school in their village, which is all Moslem. Pray for courage for him to take a stand for Christ.
In 2008 IZHAR was very sick in Delhi with a blood infection from which they said he would die. Annise came to him and prayed for him. God assured him he would be OK and he was! Annise taught him the Scriptures and he quickly grew spiritually. His whole family became believers. He asks us to pray for him and his ministry. He, too, is from a Muslim background.
SHAKEEL is an outstanding Christian pastor we met at Paul’s home and the pastor’s conference. He was converted from Islam 3 years ago and is very, very faithful. He has donated land for a church and earns his living by farming. His wife glows with joy. She is known for hugging and loving everyone and for being quick to cry for any reason (sounds a lot like Nancy!)
Pray for these fine people who live and serve on the front lines for the Lord. They are doing a great job but really need our prayers!
Thanks and God bless!
January 15, 2011
Things are going very well as far as the teaching and ministry goes. I speak 4 or 5 times a day and Nancy shares her testimony and other things as well. It makes for long, tiring days, though.
We don’t have to endure the cold here – it is in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s – fully 50 warmer than last weeks record colds.
Nancy has made a wonderful impact on everyone here, especially the women and children. They are always flocked around her asking for prayer, medical advice, or just enjoying her company. She enjoys them as well. She’s liked it here better than expected. Some of the places and people really touch her heart in a very deep way. I wish she was here with me the whole time!
God gives me what to say when I speak. Often the circumstances are far from ideal and much, much flexibility is needed, but I know I have been teaching what He wants and in the words He wants used. As to results only He knows hearts and long-term impact. The magic tricks are very, very popular but I want to do more than entertain. Pray God would continue to use me as we move into the pastor conferences stage of this trip.
All that doesn’t mean there isn’t spiritual oppression for there is. It attacks me mostly at night and keeps me from falling back to sleep. (That’s when I am typing this.) I am entirely out of my element and comfort zone. For all I’ve been here, as well as I know the place and as much as I love the people, it is a continual struggle for me. But I guess that is where God is stretching me and working in my life. I’d appreciate your prayers in that area. Thanks!
We have changed our travel plans for today. Instead of riding the train for 13 hours we are flying – 2 hours. The accommodations we were assigned on the train would not have been accommodating for rest nor would comfortable for Nancy as a woman. This will work much better.
In 2006 I met a Southern Baptist Missionary to Hyderabad named Norman. I also started writing to another SBC missionary named Henry. During past visits it never worked to meet and so we planned to meet the night we arrived in Hyderabad. The plan arrived so late we moved it back to the following morning. We had breakfast with them in a very fancy hotel. They are 2 of the 3 SBC missionaries in the area I visit, and area that has 85 million people! Here is their story:
NORMAN is from Colorado. He came to Hyderabad in 2001 on a 2 week mission trip. He said the excitement and danger was a great adrenalin rush, like being at 6 Flags for 2 weeks straight. He wanted more. On the plane ride home he was praying for God to send people to India to meet the great need there. God clearly laid it on his heart to go. He got home and God had been telling his wife the same thing. They and their 3 children have been here 6 years. When asked what message he would have for you in America he said he’d encourage everyone to take a mission trip here some time. That way they can see the need and be better motivated to pray, and that way God would touch the hearts of some to come back to serve.
HENRY is a single man in his 40’s from North Carolina. He grew up a Methodist but didn’t hear the gospel. He graduated from North Carolina State and was an architect. In a wood shop class a board was thrown by a machine and cut off 4 fingers on his left hand. The accident saved his life, though,, because when treating his hand injury they fond a large brain tumor and operated immediately. Had he not been in the hospital he would have died from the tumor very soon. He ended up in a coma for 5 days. When he came out he was in great, great pain and knew his life was greatly threatened. He was afraid to die so called out to help him. God gave him peace about it. A pastor friend came by and led him to the Lord. When he got good enough to leave the hospital he started going to Bible studies. He grew spiritually and went on mission trips with the group. Several years later more tumors reappeared in his brain. He became very angry at God, but God brought a rainbow into his life at the perfect moment and again he has peace. A little while later while on a spiritual retreat God called him to be a missionary. At first he said no because he didn’t want to leave his comfortable life, but then he submitted and followed God’s leading for His life.
It was nice meeting these men after the years of email contact we have shared. There is one more who works in the area I will be traveling to for pastors conferences but he is away at the present. I will be in touch with him through email. Pray for these men and the difficult, demanding work they do.
January 21, 2011 – NANCY
Overall the trip was amazing..mostly because of what you see God doing there. The “beauty” there ,are the women..their clothes are gorgeous colors and fabrics,although they are in the same style ( lol) No two women have the same fabric,,not even close. The designs and handwork,beads,etc are over the top beautiful. The women themselves are very beautiful too..smooth dark skin,flawless and silky long hair.The are very Innocent and shy and timid.
The rest of the landscape tends to be street dirt, trash,tacky monster size billboards with distorted images of Indian people in western clothes and advertisements. Also there are millions of posters and billboards advertising the current political leadership and all their “accomplishments”
(which include concrete parks !!)Like election season here only WAY worse and all year..
The shops are little cubicles,dark cluttered lined up side by side,complete with trash outside. You don’t “window” shop.There was a nice small mall in Lucknow and we had PIZZA…it was sooo good
Lucknow is dark ( spiritually and environmentally), bleak, dirty, trashy,cluttered with …stuff.. and the worst traffic ever. No Mexican or European traffic compares..they play “chicken”. No one yields. Debbie stopped driving .It’s too much. She had accident. No one got hurt really, but a crowd gathered.They stare and don’t DO anything.to.help but can get aggressive…it was very intimidating to her. Consequently, she stays home mostly. Mostly, men shop..for everything..women stay home.
Hyderabad is clearly influenced by the LIGHT that Christ brings. This city is cleaner, more updated and shows signs for moving forward.Even the drivers are more courteous. People seem a little more friendly and open.
I love the villages in both cities..It’s like a National Geographic come ALIVE.. The people were very curious about me..I seem to be entertainment where ever I go,,,One very young couple with their new baby were very welcoming and shared soda with us and coconuts right from their tree.I even held their baby !.Pretty trusting .Jerry said this would not have happened if it was just him ( male ) there.Women ARE that way..always relating..even if we CAN”T talk to each other!!
Anyway..more later.. glad to be home..sleeping,drinking tap water,eating.????? anything !!
Spiritually, God is using the “team” and HUNDREDS of local pastors to do an amazing work..I love the local pastors ( and their wives .. they are strong,directive,organized and committed—–How does God DO THAT ..in every culture..very funny LOL)
I was especially happy to see first class when I got to the airport–!!When I saw the first row seat with the reclining /flat bed option, I started to cry quietly. I was EXHAUSTED !!!..all i WANTED TO DO WAS SLEEP. i EVEN POSTPONED THE 5 COURSE GOURMET MEAL TI LL 04AM SO i COULD SLEEP…QUIETLY, IN THE DARK WITH no mosquitoes !!
Wait till Jerry sees that..he’ll cry too LOL
Missing Jerry already…he’s got a crazy intensive schedule this week. I tease the Team Leader that he is a slave driver and doesn’t waste a minute.The over night train rides are tough and long and very unreliable
Jerry is doing an AMAZING job and the pastors are lovin’ it!!
I got to speak to 20-30 young men at a Hindu Conference Center…crazy uh ?? they were very receptive..mostly because I am an American and that’s entertainment right there !!!!!! SOme were new beleivers and some just learning about Jesus. This tops my list of “Craziest things I’ve ever done in my Life” list…it even trumps marrying Jerry— LOL !!
..LAST NIGHT i HAD A large CHOCOLATE MILK SHAKE AT THE AIRPORT IN dELHI…IT WAS SOOOO GOOOOD
seriously..continue to pray for your pastor…he really needs it. He is making a major impact
crazy things..I saw a goat on the back of a scooter ..!!!
Jerry seems to be getting small emails on his new Kindle..yeah !! WIFI is VERY limited,but it’s his life/love line to family. He seems to have eaten a bad egg and deicded not to eat to settle his stomache. He is also just getting over a “cold’ ..maybe sinus infection ..So glad I packed every imaginable drug he would need. The trick is now..does he know which one to take????
They are still doing conferences..morning afternoon and evening.The evening ones are the ones that make it so exhausting. Because after -there is still travel .
thanks for continued prayer..he needs it desperately.
January 22, 2011
Sorry I haven’t written sooner but i have not had time or internet, access. Days are very long and full but God is blessing what we do. I usually speak 4 or 5 times a day. It seems to be having a great impact. In addition to everything else, there have been 10 pastors conferences so far with almost 500 pastors and 200 wives attending. The problem is that this is much more than we planned for so everything is costing more than expected.
Having each pastor a spiritual warfare book in his own language is wonderful. They have been having a great impact. We printed 6000 but only have 800 left.
Please pray for energy and health for me. My stomach thing seems almost gome but my colds has settled in my throat and I can barely talk loud enouigh for my interpretore to hear. Pray too that I sleep well and long at night.
Being with these christians makes me really appreciate what we have in America and make me anxious to return. Tomorrow is the half way point. Pray God uses me and these times for His glory. The needs are so great here, no sacrifice is too great. It truly is a great honor and privilege to know and minister to these fine people.
Thanks for your faithful prayers and support. I’ll write more when I can but that may not be until I return.
January 25, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 Hello! Its been awhile. The ministry here has been wonderful, but its been very difficult. Each year seems to get a bit harder as God stretches me more. In addition, I ate some bad food and for several was as sick to my stomach as I can remember being. An India doctor gave me a shot and some pills and things have been improving. The infection hit my throat as well and I am only now able to talk anywhere like normal. We continued the conference schedule but came back to Hyderabad last night for a few days rest. We haven’t cancelled any conferences, just combined some.
The morning sessions are about what God expects of pastors, priorities for time and ministry. The afternoon are the spiritual warfare sessions, followed by group and individual prayer. They are given spiritual warfare handbooks to take and use (the ones translated into Telugu last year). I didn’t know what to expect from these but its been interesting to say the least. Showing them the power and authority they have over the demonic is great, leading them in a group prayer for deliverance is thrilling. However we have experienced Luke 4:31-37 a couple times.
Two days ago a pastor fell to the floor and shook all over, he moaned and cried out. It was right after the deliverance prayer. This had been happening to him for awhile. Then yesterday while a was talking a young lady on the woman’s side started pointing at me, screaming and pushing towards me while I was talking about Jesus commanding the demons out in Mark 5. I later found out she was screaming “Don’t tell them that! That can’t know that! Stop talking! Don’t be letting them know these things!” She really went wild!
The women tried to hold her and stop her, people started praying against what was happening. One of the larger men pushed through the woman, grabbed her by a large handful of hair on the top of her head and physically dragged her to the center isle and then down to the front where I was standing. He dropped her and she hit her head on the concrete pretty hard but never seemed to notice. Everyone was gathering around crying out to Jesus. I knelt by her and put my left hand on the top of her head and my right on the side of her head for she was jerking and shaking and I didn’t want her to hit her head again. She stopped screaming and was moaning and jerking. I tried to open her eyes to look at her and better command the demons but she kept closing them. Others were touching her and everyone praying out loud. They call on Jesus for help and mercy and are just learning the authority then have to command the demons to be gone. I held her and kept praying for awhile. Finally she calmed down and lay still.
When I stood up I noticed a deep red blotch the size of a quarter on my palm, thinking it might have been from some makeup she had on her hairline (not uncommon here). But later I realized it was my blood. Somehow I had a scratch there and it really bled. Strange…..
She went back to her seat, obviously drained and dazed. She barely seemed to be with it at all. I combined the last 2 sessions so we could get to the prayer for everyone and that went well. Afterwards I sought her out, played hands on her head and prayed for her again.
I was surprised to see here stay afterwards. She was one of the 7 from the church who I was to baptize that afternoon. Moses talked to them, I said a bit but couldn’t talk much. She clearly was a new believer who wanted to follow Jesus in baptism. We drove to the river, chased some water buffalo out of the way, and went in to baptize. She was the 6th one baptized. It felt very right having her take that step of faith and public commitment.
The woman after her, the last one, put her hands over her face when she came up out of the water. She started shaking and screaming as well. Falling down in deep very rocky water is not good so we prayed and got her to the shore. She came out of it quickly then.
Back at the church we talked, took pictures, a special meal was served to those baptized and we had more group and individual prayers. Pray for these young women. Ramulamma is the name of the first and Mangamma the second. I won’t send pictures but will show pictures when I get back. (or I can email you some when I get back). For a white person to do public baptisms here is very unacceptable and will probably lead to arrest. A large bribe is expected in order to be released.
So please pray for me and these people. Its not uncommon for someone to start shaking when I lay hands on them to pray. Demonizing is so much more out in the open here. It’s not like at home where they put on this culturally acceptable veneer to stay unnoticed. It is really a land of darkness with generations of those who have welcomed and wanted their powers. Pray for the Christians here to grow and have victory, and for the Spiritual Warfare Handbooks and the pastor conferences teachings to take root and spread. Pray God raises up men here who are gifted in this area to minister and train in powerful ways. Thanks! I’ll write more prayer requests tomorrow – don’t stop praying!!!
January 26, 2011
The results of the pastors conferences are very encouraging. In addition to spiritual warfare conferences and speaking in local churches each evening and Sundays, there have been 12 pastors conferences so far. 600 men and 250 wives have attended. That total could well double before we are done. The response of the pastors and their wives is very positive. The worship, fellowship and encouragement are much needed. Mainly, though, they really appreciate the teaching. They soak it up and all reports are that it makes a tremendous difference in their lives.
In the morning sessions I talk about what God expects of them as men and pastors – what they should be doing and not doing to be godly pastors. Priorities in ministry are covered. Its not how they are to do things ,but what the Bible expects them to do (and not do) so they can apply it to their own individual Indian culture. The afternoon is in depth teaching about spiritual warfare and ends with them praying as a group to be free from any access to demons. They have never had any training in either of these areas and share testimony after testimony about how this teaching is totally changing them and their ministries.
Pastor Moses has been traveling to these areas for months finding the most needy places to meet. He has men trained in each area to set up the conferences and we go from one place to another each day. A noon meal is provided, and at the end of the day each participant is given a certificate, money to help with their travel expenses, a wooden cross ornament I made and 2 copies of the spiritual warfare handbook in Telegu. One is to keep the other to give to another pastor.
It is thrilling to be the one to hand these to the men. It is very humbling to be part of this. I continually thank God for your prayers and giving, for it is your finances and prayers that make this possible. There are no resources in India to help, everything is provided by your giving and prayers. It may seem we in America who sponsor this are a small group, but God is using this in a great way in large area in India.
The only real ‘problem’ is that many more are coming than expected, and that means more cost for food and travel. Over attendance is not a problem in the USA but often is here. We planned for about a thousand pastors and wives and that figure may almost double. Food cost inflation in India is about 18%, with some basics doubling in certain areas. Also the Spiritual Warfare Handbooks have been tremendously helpful. They are spreading the message to many places and supplement what I speak about. Of the 6,000 copies we had printed only 800 are left so we need to have another printing of them as well. Please pray God provides our financial needs for these extra expenses.
Please pray specifically that I would have the words to speak which these committed young men need to hear. Knowing that for many this is the only pastoral training they will receive means I want every word to count. Pray God speaks His truth to their hearts through me and that He teaches them through His Spirit as I speak. Pray for energy and health for me as speaking 5 or 6 times a day is very draining. The focus and energy required drain me. Paul’s words about pouring himself out as a drink offering come to mind. There is no better cause and no more needy place to do that, though. “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19)
Thanks so much for your prayers and support. Knowing you are there praying makes all the difference. May God continue to bless you and use you for His glory!
January 27, 2010
We leave soon (Friday morning our time) to head back to Vijayawada and our schedule. Daily pastors conferences are scheduled, dedicating a new church, special meetings with posters advertising them, etc. We are traveling by car instead of train because it is much quicker and more comfortable, and we won’t have to be traveling at night as much so can get to a hotel to get some sleep. It costs more but is certainly worth it. We come back here Saturday evening, Feb. 5. We will be quite a distance away so will fly back. That’s much better once the plane takes off, but often iffy until then.
If anything comes up needing specific prayer I’ll try to contact Nancy or Mark and have them mail you. So for the next couple weeks no news is good news!
Thanks so very much for your prayers and support. It is greatly needed and deeply appreciated. I have taken about 2,000 pictures so far and will be showing some of the best when I get back on Wednesday, Feb. 9. I’ll show more on Sunday mornings for several Sundays. I’ll put some of the best on the web site, just won’t put any identification on them. I’ll update you on things then as well. I’ve been learning some very interesting lessons I’m looking forward to sharing in sermons and blogs. Thanks and God bless! God bless!
February 5, 2011
I’m back in Hyderabad, back to the same bed for the next 3 nights! I’ve traveled about 4500 miles (8 plane flights, 50+ hours driving in a car, auto rickshaw, motor cycle and walking). I’ve slept in 15 different places, spoken to about 30 church groups and had 4-session training conferences for over 1000 pastors and 350 wives. All that in 32 days (plus 2 coming and going = 36 total). We had 22 days of pastors conferences in 19 different locations. I’ve done well over 200 magic tricks and baptized 13 people. I’ve prayed personally for at least a thousand people who came to me after services. That pretty well sums up the activity side of things here.
The big story, though, can’t be told in numbers and its not about me. Its about the pastors and their wives who came every day to the pastors conferences. Without exception their testimonies are that they were deeply touched, greatly encouraged and highly trained to move ahead in their ministry. Teaching them what God expects of them as pastors was very helpful for most had no real idea. Showing them how to measure spiritual growth in their lives and their churches was extremely helpful. But the real power fell in the afternoon when I taught about spiritual warfare from Mark 5. I applied it to their lives and ministries and taught them how to use the authority and power has given all of us to have victory over Satan and his forces. The sessions concluded with something I have done at every pators conference, last trip to India and this time. I lead them in a group spiritual warfare prayer to take back any access any demons have and be free from any impact against them, their families or their churches. As you can imagine in a dark, idol-worshipping place like India, they have confronted demons many times, often in their own lives. Being free from their impact and learning how to pray for freedom from others was something they were most grateful for. Many said that when they prayed at the end, and then when I prayed for them, they could feel God’s Spirit fill them in a real and glorious way. They felt freedom from bondage and a real peace in Jesus. They sang, praised God, and tears ran down their faces. Numerous ones asked me to pray for an illness or area of pain and the reports they sent back afterwards were that they were healed. I always prayed against anything demonic that was causing it.
We gave each participant 2 copies of my spiritual warfare handbook in their own language – one for them and one to give to another pastor. That is a great tool to help them to the next step in learning how to have victory. You can’t imaging the thrill of being able to train, pray with and for, and equip (handbook) over a thousand young highly committed and very gifted young pastors. What a tremendous honor and privilege!!!
Every place we went to they begged us to stay longer, come back the next day and to come again next year. Pastor after pastor pleaded with us to come to his area to speak to the pastors there. Many really desired more training like this and asked if we couldn’t start a training program for them (more about that tomorrow). They are very hungry for God’s Word and how to minister. Several pastors came more than one day, traveling great distances to hear the exact same conference for the second time because they were so very blessed the first time.
It was emotionally, physically and spiritually draining as you can imagine. But God has carried me through in splendid shape (there was one bout of food poising, but we kept going even then). He has given us clear direction about where we go from here in this ministry, for clearly He is doing something very special in bringing light into the darkness here.
I’ll be showing a slide summary at church this Wednesday evening, then on Sunday mornings I’ll show more slides and preach about topics pertaining to them. I’ll break it into 4 or 5 parts and do some each Sunday. I’ll put the sermons in blogs on the web site and I’ll also put lots of pictures on the church web site – just without specific names or locations.
Its utterly amazing what 2 small churches, one in America and one in India, have been able to accomplish for God in this place. We just see the tip of the iceberg, so much is happening we aren’t even aware of. Its like throwing a stone in a lake and watching the ripples travel to the shore. God is using us to sow seed that will produce many times over for generations to come. Thanks so very much for praying and giving. You have made this possible and God will bless you for your faithfulness in praying and giving. Thanks so very much!!! God bless!
February 6. 2011
Traveling 4500 miles and speaking for 22 days in 19 locations is very draining. It’s not a pace we can keep up for long. We ministered to 1000 pastors and 350 wives this time, compared to 120 pastors and 35 wives last trip. But that still falls very far short of meeting the need to reach the 85 million people in this area. Their desire to have this teaching could keep me occupied in this state year round, and that would only scratch the surface. We’ve met a lot of fine men and learned a lot about Indian ministry through this, but we need to multiply this information faster than I can do alone.
The spiritual warfare handbook in Telugu is a tremendous tool, spreading everywhere and taking God’s truth to many thousands of pastors who spread it to their people. God has given me a deep burden to write another book this coming year, this one about what God expects of pastors. It would add details to what I taught in the morning sessions and can take that message way beyond what I could ever do personally.
We do plan on going to a couple prime areas to hold conferences next year, but the main thrust will be bringing in prime leaders to train and go back to their areas to train others. We hope to bring in 40 or 50 pastors who are leaders of leaders, pastors who train other pastors in their locations. We’d like to have a 3-day training program for them in which I’ll teach them how to lead others, how to communicate the material I have written about pastors and spiritual warfare, and how to help other pastors in their area. That way they can go to 50 places and have monthly meetings with pastors there. This will multiply much faster than my marathon conference schedule.
I’d also like to bring one or 2 pastors with me next time to help me with the teaching, show them first hand the ministry here, and hopefully put on their hearts to come and do the same thing I am doing. It would be a much easier 2-week trip. I can’t do all of this myself and I can’t do it forever, but if I can train American pastors and many Indian pastors the work will multiply. It’s a dream that has me very excited. I teach them Biblical principles and then they apply these to their own particular culture and needs. I teach then what to do, then God shows them how to do it in their own individual setting.
The biggest problem, as you might image, is money. Because of the larger than expected number of participants this year we overspent what we expected by $3000. It costs about $5 per person for transportation, one good meal and several snacks. That isn’t much at all. But multiply it by almost 1500 people and it adds up! Plus there is travel, food and hotel costs for Moses and myself. There are other expenses: paying people to make the meals each day, contributing to the church we use to help pay electrical and other expenses and many other things.
In addition, we’ve about used up the 6,000 spiritual warfare handbooks we printed last year and need to print more. To translate, set up and print 6000 copies of the new book (professionally printed and bound, glossy multicolor cover and back) will be $7000 to $8000 . Then there is travel and living expenses for those who come.
Moses is praying for a permanent training center in Hyderabad where these young pastors who have no opportunity for training can come for a few days or even weeks to study and learn. Pastoral education in India is very lacking and often very ineffective – and only a few can afford the time and money anyway. He tells me a ministry center would cost $15,000 to $20,000 to rent for a year. Buying is preferable but that costs even more. Moses ‘would meet there as welL so they would help with the cost. His daughter is studying to become a doctor and wants to open a clinic for poor people as a missionary doctor. They also want to train nurses. So the building would have many uses.
Moses goes back monthly and follows up with those we spoke to and in past years we have helped him with those expenses as well.
Another great need God has put on my heart is helping sponsor some of the poor young pastors who have a strong ministry but lack support. They live on about $80 a month, so giving $25 a month would be a tremendous help to them. They live in shacks and hold church in their one-room homes. One man was telling us his group outgrew his hut so now they meet under a bridge. We have gotten a few of these men bicycles ($100 each) but don’t have much money for that. If anyone wants to sponsor a pastor for $25 a month let me know. You’ll receive information, pictures and updates about them.
So right now the big need is money. I’m no fund raiser, but God has really put it on my heart to ask you to pass this need on to others who may be able and willing to give. We need those who are willing to invest money in the young pastors of India. India will be a leading nation in the world soon and impacting it for Christ is key at this time. There’s no better way than supporting and training those God has called up here to lead their own people. We know what God wants us to do but we need the money to do it. God bless!
February 7, 2011
Tomorrow I put on shoes for the first time in a month. I’ve been wearing sandals to travel, but barefoot all the rest of the day and at night. I’ll also be seeing my first white person in almost a month and speaking to someone other than Moses. Since Nancy left he’s the only one I could talk to. He speaks British English with a strong Telugu accent – not always easy to understand.
From when I get up tomorrow morning to when I go to bed in Doylestown, PA, Wednesday evening will be almost 50 hours. I can sleep in the plane, but it’s a long draining trip. Pray everything go smoothly and quickly. Don’t stop praying now!
Thanks for your prayers for the pastors here as well, and for the finances for the future. Some of you have responded saying you will help and that is very encouraging. This isn’t something I have made up or planned, clearly it is much bigger than me. I feel like I’m just riding the wave of what God is doing. So please pray for the finances and pass the need on to any who may be willing and able to help. Thanks!!!
Wednesday night I’ll show a very abbreviated sample of slides (200 of the 3000 pictures I took). For the next several Sunday mornings I’ll go into more detail about various portions of the trip. The sermon then will be based on experiences during that time. The topics will include “Lessons Learned About walking on Water,” “The Need for Human Companionship,” “Thoughts While Passing Through the Outskirts of Hell,” “Spiritual Warfare in India and America: What Can We Learn?,” and “How to Measure Spiritual Growth.” I’ll be putting these in blogs when I get home as well.
Thanks again so very much for your prayers, emails, finances and encouragement in all of this. You share the blessing in this as well for I couldn’t do it without you! God bless!
February 9, 2010
I’m back home in Doylestown! The flight home was very nice – First Class flight! Many thanks to the fine friend who donated his frequent flyer miles to us for our flights!!!
Pastor Moses continues to get many reports from pastors about how they were blessed and how God used the conferences to greatly touch their lives and ministries. Each one wants us to come to their area next time. That isn’t possible, so putting it in another book to distribute and training India pastors to train others is the way to better reach the need. The church in India is growing – Satan can’t stop it. But without true teaching comes error that sidetracks its effectiveness and cripples its outreach. It’s a privilege to be helping train these fine gifted young men.
The verse that keeps coming to mind is 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
For the first time in my life I don’t feel awkward about asking for money, mainly because I know God wants me to ask. It is for His work, ideas that He is definitely behind. Also I’m absolutely certain He will richly and abundantly eternally reward those who sacrificially give to His work.
We expected 500 or 600 pastors and wives this year (3 times lat year). Later we adjusted that to 1000 as the highest possible total. Instead we ended up with 1000 pastors and 350 wives. That’s 350 more than budgeted for. The overall cost came out to $10 per pastor for all expenses of all kinds. Thus I need to send Pastor Moses $3500 for that is how much extra we spent than what I had given him. That must be sent in a few days for he owes the money to others. In addition there is money for the new book and for pastors needs. Please pray for God to provide. A little American money goes a LONG way in India! God good to us in America, time to pass it on to next generation of Christians in India for all reports show India will be the next great democracy. Lets help to make it Christian!
If you are in the Doylestown area join us tonight at 7 for slides of the trip. Nancy is bringing the traditional Indian snack food: chaii and biscuits (similar to cookies) for us to eat during this time.
Thanks for your prayers – don’t stop praying now!
February 11, 2010
Thanks to you who faithfully pray for the pastors and others in India! Here are some requests I’d greatly appreciate your prayers for over the next few months.
- Pray God would protect, guide and use the pastors and their wives who came to the conferences. Pray they would be able to apply what was taught about being a pastor and they would have wisdom and courage in spiritual warfare. Pray God would help those who came to the church services to grow. Pray for protection, growth and a good witness from those who were baptized.
- Pray God would provide the money needed for the continued ministry there this year, the new book, more copies of the spiritual warfare handbook and next years visit. How this is provided determines what we do when, so we want God’s will done in this. Ask God to bless those who have been giving. I am very grateful for each one.
- Ask God to give me time, insight and wisdom as I write this new book on what God expects of pastors. It will be a foundational study of Biblical principles on which pastors can base their ministry.
- Pray that God would pout it on the hearts of those who are to accompany me next year. I’d like 2 or 3 pastors or others who can help with the ministry there, learn about it, and spread the word when they come home. The trip would be about mid-January 2012 and they can stay for 1 or 2 weeks. Most of the cost would be the airline ticket, and its very hard to guess what that might be, but for 2 weeks a round estimate of all expenses would be about $3500. We’ll stay in nice hotels, eat good healthy food and see cities, villages, markets, churches and historic sites. I want to reserve tickets this summer. Contact me for more information.
I have put 138 pictures on the Main Street Baptist Church web site at http://www.mainstreetbaptist.org/photo-album/india-2011/
Sermon Schedule for sermons on India is: You can listen to these on line on our church web site. I’ll be sending out blogs on these messages as well.
Feb 13: Lessons Learned About Walking on Water (Lucknow pictures)
Feb 20: The Need for Human Companionship (Hyderabad & Vizaq pictures)
Feb 27: Thoughts While Passing Through the Outskirts of Hell (Vizaq & Kainada pictures)
Mar 6: Spiritual Warfare: India and the USA (Vijayawada pictures)
Mar 20: How to Measure Your Spiritual Growth (Kadapa, Tiruapti & Hyderabad pictures)
LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT WALKING ON WATER – 1
(Mon, Feb 14, 2011) My last sermon, and blog, before going to India was about Peter’s example of taking a risk and walking on water. As I said, that was meant more for me than anyone else. I thought about that often while in India, even preached that same message a few times in various churches there. As I meditated on the truths of that passage I would write down things God was teaching me about walking on water. Here are some of my observations:
-walking on water is never easy, its not mean to be
-its never something we really want to do, just know we should do it
-as soon as we start getting even a bit comfortable at one place its time to take another
step to a less comfortable place
-we don’t have to cover the whole distance in one leap, just take one small step at a time
-storms may increase or fade. Sometimes they are stronger, other times not as strong.
-there’s nothing glamorous about walking on water, its just lots of hard work
-the first key to walking on water is to be committed to doing it
-don’t look more than one step ahead, take it one step at a time (I couldn’t keep thinking about
the day Nancy would leave, it came soon enough on its own)
-learn what you can from each step so you can apply it to the next – you’ll need it
-sometimes we walk in the dark of night, but remember Jesus is the Light!
-each step is a new faith experience, each time we trust anew that the water will hold
before your foot becomes comfortable its time to move it again
-after taking a few steps you know going back is harder than going on so you continue
-you soon learn to keep moving ahead or sink!
-it never gets easy, even when making progress for there is always more ahead
-each step takes total focus and concentration or you’ll start going down!
The main lesson that kept playing in my head was the importance of keeping my eyes on Jesus. But as I talked about this for the first time in India I realized I couldn’t get away with using that nice easy phrase. I’d have to define and explain what it meant. What does it mean? How do I teach it? Even more so, how do I do it?
What lessons have you learned about walking on water? I’d love to have you email them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Writing them down is a good way to remember and apply them to your own life.
Give this some thought: what does it mean to you to “keep your eyes on Jesus”? I’ll tell you what I’ve been learning in the next 2 blogs, but try to write down a definition of your own.
LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT WALKING ON WATER – 2
(Wed, Feb 16, 2011) Last time I shared some lessons I’ve been learning about walking on water, and my own desire to know just what it means to “keep your eyes on Jesus.”
As I was thinking and preaching about this in India I also preached on Heb 12:1-2, running with perseverance by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. (I spoke to church groups 32 times as well as 70 time to pastors groups, so I had plenty of opportunities to talk.)
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The analogy here is of one running a race. They must keep their eyes on the goal for if they look in any other direction it will affect their progress. We must look to Jesus throughout all of life. Pleasing Him is our goal, but looking to Him is also the way to reach that goal. That’s very true, but it still doesn’t pin down just what it means.
David said that when his enemies threatened to destroy Him he kept his eyes on God, meaning he put his full trust in God, not himself. Nor did you focus on his enemies but on God’s coming provision. Psalms 25:15 My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. and Psalms 141:8 But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge — do not give me over to death.
OK. So looking to Jesus means trusting only in Him, not depending on ourselves or giving in to the enemy be fear or panic. That helps, but is still very general. We know we need to trust in
God and not ourselves, don’t we?
That’s what Jehosophat did when attacked by the Moabites and Ammonites: O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12
The Jews sung a Psalm as they marched up the mountain toward Jerusalem at the top. In anticipation of seeing God’s special city they sang: “I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
So the act of physically looking up is the same as spiritually turning our spiritual eyes to Jesus for protection and deliverance. It’s a figure of speech, not something to literally do.
When do you find yourself most keeping your eyes on Jesus? What interferes and causes you to get your eyes off Him? Ask yourself throughout the day if you are still ‘looking to Jesus’ in whatever you are facing. Next blog will conclude this topic with a verse that gives clear meaning to the phrase “keep your eyes on Jesus.”
LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT WALKING ON WATER – 3
(Fri, Feb 10, 2011) The best definition and description I found of keeping our eyes on Jesus is in Psalms 123:1-2 (also sung by pilgrims marching up the mountain to Jerusalem on its peak). I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.
Now we have something concrete to build on! “As” and “like” show there is a similarity. This writer tells what looking to God is like. Its like a slave looking to his master or a maid looking to her mistress. It’s the same as peter looking to Jesus. The object of their look is the main focus of their hope and dependence. They don’t look in guilt, anger, blame, fear or pride. Instead they look in confidence, knowing the master or mistress will provide for their needs. They have a heart attitude of dependence. It is a patient, persevering trust that is displayed. It’s a picture of total faith in a time when circumstances don’t seem very supportive.
As a child looks to, waits for, the parent’s provision, so too the Christian waits and looks to Jesus for deliverance from that which binds and defeats him. The hope is for complete provision and deliverance, but in the meantime any relief or help will do thank you.
So keeping our eyes on Jesus means to recognize our total dependence on Him and if faith wait for and trust in what He provides. It means to totally trust in Jesus, to make depending on Him our first and only choice no matter what happens. That’s our only way through, and that’s what He expects of us.
Clearly He expects total faith and dependence without any guarantees or proof. It’ expecting a lot, but is it expecting too much? Certainly not. He is SOVERIGN and can do anything. As with Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael and the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:17-18), He may not always be willing but He is always able. He does what is best for our growth and His glory. He is sovereign. That is clearly evidenced in Job’s life, in Lazarus’ life, and in your life and mine as well.
But sovereignty alone can be a bit cold and impersonal. God is also LOVE. Everything He does is guided by His love. It’s been proved for all time by the cross and can never be doubted by anyone. Love alone can be weak, but when we combine love and sovereignty we have a winning combination we can always trust. That is why we need to keep our eyes on the fact that God is sovereign and God is love.
When we don’t understand why He allows us to go through painful situations we must keep our eyes on Him by remembering we can’t judge His character by His acts. We have to judge His acts by His character. His character is unchangeable love and sovereignty, always doing what is best for our growth and His glory. His character was proven by the cross. We can’t use a circumstance we don’t understand, especially when we don’t have all knowledge like God does, and somehow pronounce Him as unfair or not right, just because we don’t understand!
So keep your eyes focused on Him, your faith resting in Him, your dependence on Him only. Think only of His proven love and sovereignty. Don’t pay attention to the storm, it will be there in one form or another as long as we live on this earth. We have enough with taking one small step forward at a time. Rain and wind will hit us, but we won’t sink in despair if we learn to keep our eyes on Jesus.
Keeping your eyes on Jesus isn’t something you can learn from reading a blog about my experiences, not that I claim to have arrived or have all understanding of it. Keeping your eyes on Jesus is something you only learn by doing. So get started. What are you waiting for? Get out of the boat and walk on water but KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS.
PRAYER REQUEST I just found this out. Please pray! One of the more sold exMuslim believers at our 2-day conference in Lucknow brought his 16 year old son to the conference. They traveled almost 24 hours by bus to get here. The father had another stop to make on the way home so the boy went ahead with a friend but disappeared when they stopped to switch busses. He hasn’t been heard from in a month and is assumed kidnapped. Please pray for the boy and his family.
THE NEED OF HUMAN COMPANIONSHIP – 1
Thanks for praying and giving. We have received almost all the money we need to cover the extra from the pastors conferences in 2011. Thanks so much!!!! We still need the money for the book ($7500), more copies of the Spiritual Warfare Handbook, orphans support ($1,000 for June to Dec), money for Pastor Moses to continue traveling and following up with the pastors we have trained, money for the pastors in serious financial need ($25 a month commitment) and other expenses. If you know anyone who may be willing to contribute to help the young pastors in India please pass this on to them.
Pray for me to have wisdom in just what to say and how to say it as I write the book on What God Expects of Pastors. I have started it, and it is a privilege but also a challenge to have it right for them. Please continue to pray for the pastors in India as well. I will inform you if I hear anything more of the boy who was kidnapped but please keep praying for him and his family.
In church on Sundays I am speaking of my time and experiences in India, focusing on a certain topic each Sunday. Yesterday was about loneliness and the need for companionship. Next Sunday will be “Thoughts While Passing Through the Outskirts of Hell” about the week I got food poisoning and was very sick – why didn’t God prevent that, or even heal it when it got very, very bad? Then I will talk about the spiritual warfare activity there and how it compares to here. Finally it will be about ways we can measure if we are growing spiritually, a message I used with the pastors and which they found very helpful. I will blog Monday, Wednesday and Friday on what I just preached about and put the blog on my web site. You can subscribe to it there. I will gladly email each one to you if you would like, but don’t want to keep sending emails to those not interested. If you would like to receive these for the next 4 or 5 weeks hit reply and I’ll put you on the list. I’ll copy the first one below.
(Monday, Feb 21, 2011) An ongoing sub theme in my India sagas is my struggling with being away from Nancy. She hurts at home the same as I do in India. I keep being torn between the importance of putting God first and being willing to sacrifice all for Him and His words in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Yes, we make it through and get back together again. But is this another way God is stretching us, or are we making things harder on ourselves by trying to be alone when God says that isn’t good?
No doubt He directs some to leave mo many He gives grace so the separation is doable. I guess you’d have to say its doable for us because we do it. And I can’t say God doesn’t supply grace to get us through – I’d hate feel what its like without His grace. Still I wonder…..
Whatever the answer to our personal dilemma, though, the truth remains: man is made for companionship. God alone isn’t enough! When Nancy was here with me it made a world of difference for both of us. When she left I asked God to take her place, to be my companion and friend, the one I bonded with and shared all with. Did He do that? I can’t say He didn’t, but it certainly wasn’t nearly as clear or special a I thought it would be. I wondered if I was expecting too much or something, then He reminded me of Eden. All was perfect. Adam had it all, he even walked and talked with God. But God Himself, for the first time every, said, “It is not good…..” That was God’s evaluation, and it was before sin and when man walked with God.
Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Why wasn’t God enough for Adam? Why need another human being when He was closer to God than we will ever be this side of heaven? God made us that way, that we need intimacy with another human being.
I know some people are specially gifted to be able to life and function well by themselves. I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. (I Corinthians 7:7). Clearly that is one gift God never gave me! I know there are many advantages of being single when it comes to serving God, but those who are gifted in that way are in a very small minority.
Paul definitely recognizes the right of Jesus’ followers to take their wives with them. Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Peter? (1 Corinthians 9:5) Evidently the practice for the majority was to take their wives along. That only makes sense because man is made for companionship.
Let me say that again. Man is made for companionship. I’m not focusing on the husband-wife relationship here, although that is certainly part of what I am talking about. I want to be more general though. We all need companionship: children, widows and widowers, singles and married people. Life is made for sharing with another human being, one whom we trust and feel bonded to. God didn’t make us to be independent but dependent. We need other people! That also causes us to need God and companionship with Him.
But there is a problem that makes us draw back. We all have scars and pains from past relationships that didn’t work out. That causes fear of taking a chance and being hurt again. So we hold back, we build walls for protection, we keep others from getting too close.
That’s why loneliness is such a big problem in our culture today. People substitute with business, control of others, acquiring materialistic things, sex and other addictions. Animals and pets are getting more and more popular as a ‘safe’ substitute for companionship!
Where do you rate yourself on the human companionship scale? Are your needs met 100%? 50% 10% What is the biggest hurdle you face in close companionship? What can you do about it? Next blog will be about how to better have our needs for companionship met.
THE NEED OF HUMAN COMPANIONSHIP – 2
(Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011) We started talking about our God-given need for companionship. But it is risky to be open to another human being. We can be hurt. True, ultimate perfect safe companionship will only happen in heaven. Then we’ll have it with God Himself and with other believers. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says: Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
In heaven we will be fully known by God and others, and we will fully know others. There will be no shame, guilt, fear, rejection or insecurity. All, including us, will be perfect so there’ll be nothing to reject in another, nor any way we can be anything but unconditionally loving.
Until then, though, we still need intimacy on this earth. We have it with God, but many back away from Him because of fear of it with Him. Yet He knows us completely, yet loves and reaches out to us: But the man who loves God is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:3)
Paul’s life goal was to grow in intimacy with Jesus. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-10)
God has built into us a natural desire for intimacy with others as well as intimacy with God Himself. Its that God-shaped vacuum that only He can fill. Companionship with other and with God seems to go hand in hand. One helps us get closer to the other. It’s sort of like leap frog: get closer to people and you find yourself getting closer to God, grow in intimacy with God and you can grow in intimacy with others. If you want greater intimacy with God don’t neglect growing in intimacy with others.
Everyone needs intimacy and companionship. Yet everyone fears intimacy and companionship. Yes, there is a risk to take, a price to be paid. It shouldn’t be, but that’s the way it is in a fallen world. The ideal would be to experience perfect, unconditional love from parents so we can find some share that kind of love with as we mature. Unfortunately sin keeps that from happening.
I find the majority of the people of India distant, lacking joy and busy with their own lives. They don’t seem angry or like they have a chip on their shoulder, they are just remote, polite but distant. The Christians stand out in stark contrast. They are happy, full of joy and smiles, with love overflowing. They are very open and accepting. They have a childlike faith and innocence about them. They assume I will love them and be kind to them. I don’t find that in America except in the very youngest children. Still there is often a hesitancy or fear in them.
Because of this openness of theirs it is very easy to get extremely close to them even in a single day. Talking about pastoring, spiritual warfare and other matters opens doors from my soul to theirs. Eyes and smiles communicate what words cannot. And that makes it hard to say good bye day after day. I console myself with the thought of how wonderful it will be to sit down in heaven with each one of them and talk and share without limits. I have many friends I want to get to know better!
The children especially are very open and playful, very quick to give eye contact and flash a big smile. I’ve reconnected with a number of them that I met on previous visits and it’s a joy and pleasure to pick up where we left off and build right from there. That’s true with adults I met previously as well. Its like the time apart didn’t happen and we pick up right where we left off. Actually we start off even closer because we share good common memories, trust has already been established, and we have missed each other while apart.
It seems in each place I visit God has a couple adults and a child or two who take special interest in me. Invariably there is a boy or girl (sometimes both) who assign themselves to me and follow me everywhere. They often know just a little English from school so we can communicate in the most basic way. They fan me with their scarves to keep the flies away, carry by heavy backpack and water, fill my glass if I take a sip or plate if I eat anything. They take my hand to help me walk and direct me so I don’t fall. In India boys commonly and openly hold hands with boys and girls with girls, never boys with girls. So its not unusual for a boy or man to hold my hand when we walk, a real privilege and show of love.
Who has God put into your life to show you some companionship? Do you utilize that as fully as you can? To whom does God want you to provide companionship? Pray and ask Him, then start reaching out to that person. Next time we’ll talk about how to do that.
THE NEED OF HUMAN COMPANIONSHIP – 3
(Friday, Feb 25) Indians are very big on showing honor and respect to others. I have received garlands, scarves, always have by backpack carried by someone, am given a chair in the front as soon as I arrive and am waited on head and foot. They come and bow their heads before me for me to lay hands on them and pray for them. Some will kneel or bow before me and touch or kiss my feet, a very meaningful way of showing respect. It is humbling for them to do, and even humbling for me to receive. But it is a wonderful way of showing honor and respect, and of bonding as human beings.
It makes me wonder about how we show honor and respect in America. We give gifts, but that is more to say thanks than to show honor. There is no money for gifts here. Perhaps we could learn something from them about putting others first instead of trying to get to the top of the pack ourselves.
I am aware this is easier with strangers we don’t to live with or depend on. We don’t see each other’s weaknesses or sin nature so much in a short visit when everyone is on their best behavior. Still I sense that these Christians are genuine and authentic, not just doing what they have been taught is proper behavior.
The immediate companionship and bonding with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is beautiful. We have the same father, we are closely related. We are family that just hasn’t met before! We all have experienced God’s mercy and grace. We share the same hope for the future, the same desire to live for Christ, and the same eternal destiny in heaven. I can look in the eyes of a pastor and know he understands, and he knows I understand. It’s like being soldiers in the same army, fighting for the same cause against the same enemy. An instant brotherhood is established. We recognize someone who has climbed the same mountains and struggled through the same valleys we have.
We recognize we are called to walk the same path following the same Savior. A few here and there are older than me, a bit ahead of me on the path, but I know what they have already gone through. The vast majority are much younger and are a bit behind me, but I have been where they now are and I know what is coming. I have made it through and so will they. We carry the same burden, share the same commitment, use the same tools and look for the same victory. How wonderful it will be to rejoice with these precious warriors one day in heaven!!!
So my challenge to you is to draw closer to Jesus and have a deeper intimacy with Him. Also come closer to others who are walking the same path in life you are. Its easier to travel when walking with someone going the same way! But that means taking a risk, sharing more openly, affirming and accepting others more quickly and building them up in any ay you can.
If you are married this starts with your mate. If not God will provide others to meet your need for companionship. Be more open with each other. Pray together. Talk of deep things together. Encourage and complement each other. Your emails to me have really, really helped while I was in India. I’ve kept them because they mean a lot to me. We all want to go a step deeper with each other but are hesitant. If we all take that step at the same time it’ll be safe for all.
Reach out to someone this week, today! Call them, send an email or letter. Get together for lunch, ask what you can do to help them. Take communication to a deeper level. Remember, we all need companionship. God has provided it, we just need to make it happen.
THOUGHTS WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE OUTSKIRTS OF HELL – 1
(Monday, Feb 28, 2011) I’ll never forget lying in a bed in a dingy hotel room in Kakanada, India, thinking the road to heaven must sometimes go through hell on the way there. I was as sick as I ever remember being in my life and didn’t know how I could possibly make it through the next days activities.
At first I thought my thought about the road to heaven going through hell must be blasphemous, but I quickly remembered that it certainly did for Jesus. And we who follow walk the same path He did in some way.
James and John asked if they could sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in heaven. Jesus asked if they were ready to drink of the same cup He was going to drink and they said they were. Then Jesus said something surprising (Mark 10:38-39): “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with.” (see also Matthew 20:22)
Clearly in some way those who follow Jesus must taste in small way of that which He fully experienced. Somewhere our road to heaven must pass through something that clearly resembles a suburb of hell. Ten years after this James was killed with the sword (Acts 12:2) and later John was banished to Patmos (Rev 1:9). They passed through what seemed like hell on their way to heaven.
Each trip to India gets harder and harder for me. This has been the worse, even harder in many ways than last year. It was an experience of persevering and enduring to the end. Lacking were the emotionally fulfilling times, the peaceful experiences in the India countryside, the deep bonding with special people of God. The road was uphill all the way. It was persevering from one day to the next. During the day I look forward to the night and then at night to the sunrise.
In America we assume life will be great, easy and fun. We feel it is our due and anything less is unacceptable. But Jesus never promised that. John 13:16 “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” That certainly doesn’t seem to guarantee will be exempt from what Jesus went through.
John 15:20 “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
Luke 6:40 “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
The Bible is full of examples of those who passed through the outskirts of hell, some much nearer to the center itself: Job, Daniel in the lions den, Abraham taking his son to kill, Mary and Martha when Jesus let Lazarus die, the list can go on and on.
Paul had something to day about this. I’m not sure what it all means but it certainly sounds like its referring to what we are talking about. Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
That’s been the experience of many of God’s people through the ages: Hebrews 11:31-38 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
Sounds like their road followed closely to Jesus.
I’ll write more next time, but what do you think about my saying that we sometimes have to pass through ‘hell’ on the way to heaven? Has that ever been your experience? What have you learned?
THOUGHTS WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE OUTSKIRTS OF HELL – 2
(Wednesday, March 2, 2011) I started blogging last time about how I felt like I was passing through the outskirts of hell when I developed food poisoning on top of everything else in India. I have been reading a long but excellent book while here about the underground church in China. Talk about going through immense suffering, unfairly inflicted, and with no end in sight! Its like nothing we every face in our lives here.
Make sure you understand that I am only talking about going through these things when obediently following Jesus. We don’t need to be perfect, but we do need to be committed and to confess our sin when we fall short. Many go through hell in this life because of consequences of their own sin. I’m not talking about them. There is no benefit, no growth, no blessing, no reward, no victory and no glory to God in that.
It would be easy to think that I’m doing all this for God, why doesn’t He keep me from this terrible sickness? He could – He healed others of it when I prayed for them, why not heal me? In the USA we are very quick to ask ‘why’ then we suffer. We come up with this image of a God who is like us and who wouldn’t want anyone to go through any pain. So when we do we don’t understand it. We try to come up with a good reason so we can understand and still trust God, but often we can’t. Then we turn from God because He doesn’t act according to the way we assume He should act.
Our entitlement attitude in this country teaches us that we are owed a nice, easy life. Advertisements, the government and even the church tells us that. So we assume God owes us peace happiness and comfort. When it doesn’t happen we want to know whose fault it is and who will fix it. But God isn’t a gene we keep in our pocket to pull out and rub when we get in a bind. We can’t put Him in a box and predict His every move, then question Him when He doesn’t act as we would expect. As Lucy says in the Chronicles of Narnia, “He is not a tame lion!”
While we in the west ask ‘why?’ when faced with suffering, those in the east (China, Asia, India, etc.) ask ‘why not?’ Why would we think we are exempt from suffering? Did God ever say we wouldn’t face trials and difficulties? No, just the opposite, He said they would happen to all those who follow Him. He is sovereign and can do anything He wants. He is not answerable to us, nor will he conform to our expectations. He is the potter, we are the clay. He will not jump through hoops to please us. If we cannot understand everything about Him, that should not bother us. After all, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How can we expect to understand even part of Him?
When we create a false God according to what we think He should be like, what we’d like Him to be like, we miss seeing Him as the sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing God He is. We know He is in control of everything and we know He does what He does because He loves us. He proved that by going through hell for us. If there are some things about how He acts we can’t be concerned. He is Who He is. His character never changes. Don’t try to change the character of God to try to explain your circumstances. Evaluate your circumstances by the unchangeable sovereign and loving character of God. That means trust Him with what you don’t understand.
Yes, we will have to go through suffering in life. We won’t always understand why. But remember that He went through much more for us than we’ll ever go through for Him! We barely skim the outskirts of hell but He was paraded downtown and spent eternity there while on the cross.
THOUGHTS WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE OUTSKIRTS OF HELL – 3
(Friday, March 5, 2011) Hebrews 12 certainly implies the Christian life is not a downhill cake walk: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb 12:1-3)
endured the cross = word ‘endure’ kept coming to my mind as I woke up each morning, stood to speak throughout the day, traveled from one place to another and prayed for many people each day. That’s what it was – enduring. And you don’t have to go to India to have to endure life! Many of you face each day the same way, don’t you?
So we endure as Jesus endured, following His example. But there’s more to that phrase in Heb 12:3: who FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross
He didn’t focus on the cross but on the results at the end. Peter didn’t walk by looking at the storm but keeping his eyes on Jesus.
While its not enough motive to have us go through these things, it is nice God reminds us He knows and appreciates our faithfulness, and He will richly reward it one day.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—
Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Eternal blessing proportional to faithfulness now – God pays great dividends on our faithfulness
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Light & momentary: relative to all eternity, how they’ll seem when we are in heaven
Blessings great and eternal!
1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
We endure by focusing on His Word and His promises to us in it. For the last 2 trips to India I have slept clinging to my Bible at night. It is a constant reminder God is with me and the promises in His Word are true.
Don’t assume you are exempt from suffering. Don’t remake God in your image, a tame God you are comfortable with and can control. That is not what God is like. His purpose is to make us more like Him. His purpose is to make us more like Him, not give us an easy life. Suffering is a necessary part of that process.
Think of Jesus asking you these questions: “If you never felt pain, how would you know that I am a healer? If you never fought battles, how would you know that I am a deliverer? If you never had an obstacle, how would you call yourself an overcomer? If you never felt sadness, how would you know that I am the comforter? If you never sinned, how would you know that I am a forgiver? If you know it all, how can you know that I can answer your questions? If you were never in trouble, how would you know that I will come to your rescue? If you were never broken, how could you know that I can make you whole? If you never had a problem how would you know that I can solve them? If you never went through fire, how would you become pure? If I gave you all things, how would you appreciate them? If I never corrected you, how would you know that I love you? If you had all power, how would you learn to depend on me? If your life was life was perfect, what would you need me for? If you never had any suffering, how would you know what I went through?”
WRITTEN BUT NOT PUIBLISHED
THOUGHTS WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE OUTSKIRTS OF HELL – 4
These recent blogs have talked about some of the more difficult times I’ve had in India, times which God allowed and has a purpose and reason for. I don’t know what it is, but there is much about Him I don’t understand. That’s OK. He is God, I am but a speck on a speck of a planet in His vast universe. Yes, there were some very hard times in India.
So who wants to come with me next time?
One night when very sick and couldn’t sleep, Moses and I talked about our God-given vision for the future of our joint ministry to pastors. Needless to say, we both had the very same idea. It’s time to bring 2 or 3 (along with Nancy) to expose others to the ministry and have them help. I need especially pastors who can share the teaching load with the pastors and who can help pray and speak in the churches in the evenings. I need to start training my replacements as well as preparing some who can go to different places in India doing this same thing.
How can I think about going back to India when this sick and home sick as well? How can I expect anyone to want to join me after what I said? Because any who come for a pleasant vacation aren’t what is needed. We need some who have a God-given burden to build into the lives of struggling young pastors, those God has called to go because He has called them and for no other reason. Going for our own ease or benefit is not the motive, but fulfilling a God-given call is.
America is on the decadency, we all know that. India is ascending at a tremendous rate. It is the largest democracy in the world. A larger percentage of people vote in India than do in the US! Soon it will be the most populous nation in the world. Its untapped resources are phenomenal. Unless Jesus comes back first, it will become the most powerful nation on the earth. It is so very important to help encourage and equip local pastors to grow the church of Jesus Christ. The potential is awesome. What a privilege it is to invest a part of this short life in something so eternal!
Its utterly amazing that two small churches, one in Hyderabad, Andhrea Pradesh, India and another in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, USA can join together and accomplish all that has been accomplished. It is truly a work of God. Your prayers and a few thousand dollars contributed by you and those on my email list have impacted in a great way over a thousand pastors who will pass that on to their churches and other pastors. The Spiritual Warfare Handbook carries the message far beyond that.
God has also burdened me to print another book in Telugu to be distributed there. My morning sessions on what God expects of pastors is very greatly needed. The young men have good hearts for God but virtually no training as to what they should be doing as pastors. I want to write a book based on my morning sessions and have it distributed as well.
Sound difficult, even impossible? Sounds like walking on water, doesn’t? But if God says to do so then we better get out of the boat and walk! So pray for God to move the hearts of 2 pastors (one can bring his wife) to be burned for the pastors in India. Keep your eyes on Him and you can walk on water.
Pray and ask God what you can do to help: Pray? Give? Share the need with others so they can pray and/or give? Maybe even go yourself?????
March 7, 2011
Thanks for your continual prayers and support. Wonderful reports from our time in India keep coming in every day. It is very encouraging to hear how God blessed and used the time there. The Spiritual Warfare Handbooks have been very, very useful and many are saying they have read them and how much they are helping their lives and ministry. We are almost out of them and need to print some more. The cost is about $1 each, a very inexpensive way to educate and train pastors in spiritual warfare.
I am writing the new book, What God Expects of Pastors. It is going well. Pray I would have wisdom and god’s leading so I can communicate these trusts in the best way possible. We need about $8000 to translate and print these. We have had requests from other parts of India to allow other ministries to use and print these books. It’s a wonderful way to spread the Word!
The plans for the next trip, in addition to what we have been doing, are to train some of the pastors who lead networks of pastors so they can pass the information on to their area. This way it can spread further and quicker than I could do it alone.
Please continue to pray for the young pastors of India and that God would enable us to continue to help us reach and teach them. Pass this information on to others who pray as well as those who may be willing to give money to help the work there. A little money goes a long way, but with so many opportunities available the more money we have the more we can accomplish.
I will be writing blogs Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week and next that describe the spiritual warfare I encountered there among the pastors and people. If you aren’t receiving my daily emails and would like them hit reply and let me know. They can be found on my church web site as well.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN INDIA (THE BATTLE BEGINS) – 1
(Monday, March 7, 2011) When I started pastoring 40 years ago I never imagined I’d have a ministry in spiritual warfare. I didn’t even know what spiritual warfare was until about 25 years ago. I knew some Christians who struggled with sin and didn’t seem to have victory no matter how hard they tried or how much they trusted God. No amount of counseling helped. It seemed like something greater than themselves was controlling them. One of my own children was being influenced by something evil . God in his mercy brought some men into my life who taught me about spiritual warfare and deliverance from demonizing.
Paul says “we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices” (2Corinthians 2:5-11) but I was very ignorant. Since that time I have been ministering to those in need of spiritual warfare counseling. I have read many books and talked to lots of people. God has been teaching me and helping me learn how to help those who are attacked by Satan and his forces.
As I learned about and ministered in spiritual warfare and deliverance over the years I never imagined that God was preparing and training me to be able to share what I have learned with pastors in India. Clearly He had that in mind all along. Spiritual warfare ministry and training has always been part of my pastors conferences in India, but this past year it took on a major role. I led several 1 and 2 day spiritual warfare conferences and spent half a day on it in each of my 16 pastors conferences. It was challenging, draining but very rewarding.
We (Nancy, my wife, was with me) spent the first week in northern India where the darkness and demonic are very strong. We had a one-day and a two-day spiritual warfare conference there and prayed with those present for deliverance at the end. We were all expecting some demonic manifestations, something to get stirred up or fight back – but nothing happened. Perhaps it will take more work there before God’s power really breaks through. The hold of darkness is very great.
From there we spent a few days in Andhra Pradesh and taught on spiritual warfare again, then went to another town for pastors conferences and to minister. After the second week Nancy left and then things started happening there. For the first of many times, I felt a believer start to shake almost uncontrollably when I put my hands on their head and prayed for them. The person would often try to pull back from me but I held them in place and prayed against whatever was causing this until they calmed down. This happened to a young man and a young woman in the same church. They I learned to expect it wherever I went. I prayed for about 1000 people individually this way during the 5 weeks there and experienced this shaking about a dozen times.
After traveling to a few different towns and villages we went back to a place I had spent almost a week on my previous trip to India. It was very good to be reunited with many believers to whom I had grown very close during my first visit. I had taught on spiritual warfare and led them in a prayer for deliverance last time and did so again this time as well. Here is where the first overt manifestation took place.
After the session on spiritual warfare, as everyone was leaving to take a break, an elderly pastor in the back started shaking and moaning. Some men near him helped him lay down on the floor so he wouldn’t hurt himself falling. He was shaking, yelling and moaning. Those near him knelt by him and started praying for him. They knew it was a demon and had seen this happen many times before. Now they knew they could exercise their authority in Jesus. The man would be OK for a while then start shaking and yelling again and we’d pray for him some more. After several episodes of this he finally stopped.
Later in the day he came to me and asked me to lay hands on him and pray for deliverance and of course I did so. The whole episode reminded me of the first time Jesus taught in the synagogue when a demonized man shouted and shook (Luke 4:31-37).
There was a young pastor and his wife there whom I got to know well last time. We have been praying for them because there was a demonic issue of abuse that was destroying their marriage and ministry. God has intervened and they have moved beyond that. It was good to see them together and doing well. Spiritual warfare can be done from half way around the world – God’s power knows no limits! This was a full, draining but exciting day. Little did I know that it would be nothing compared to what the next day would bring!
SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN INDIA (SATAN COMES TO CHURCH) – 2
(Wednesday, March 9, 2011) Tuesday, January 25, started like all the other days in India, with an early rise and a long drive to another village for a pastors conference in a local church. My voice was still very weak and my stomach still sore but getting better. Finally I was getting over a bad case of food poisoning (I guess there is no such thing as a good case, is there?). Then it happened.
While I was talking about Jesus power over demons a young lady on the woman’s side started pointing at me, screaming and pushing towards me while I was talking about Jesus commanding the demons out in Mark 5. I later found out she was screaming “Don’t tell them that! That can’t know that! Stop talking! Don’t be letting them know these things!” She really went wild!
The women tried to hold her and stop her, people started praying against what was happening. One of the larger men pushed through the woman, grabbed her by a large handful of hair on the top of her head and physically dragged her to the center isle and then down to the front where I was standing. He dropped her and she hit her head on the concrete pretty hard but never seemed to notice. Everyone was gathering around crying out to Jesus. I knelt by her and put my left hand on the top of her head and my right on the side of her head for she was jerking and shaking and I didn’t want her to hit her head again. She stopped screaming and was moaning and jerking. I tried to open her eyes to look at her and better command the demons but she kept closing them. Others were touching her and everyone praying out loud. They call on Jesus for help and mercy and are just learning the authority then have to command the demons to be gone. I held her and kept praying for awhile. Finally she calmed down and lay still.
This was the second experience in 2 days of a believer in a church service being demonized. When Jesus spoke in Capernaum (Luke 4:31-37; Mark 1:26) a regular attendee started shaking and screaming. Some think believers can be demonized but that is not true. When we become a believer we receive a new nature, where God’s Holy Spirit lives. However we still have our old sin nature, it doesn’t diminish or leave. We can still sin as much after salvation as we did before. We don’t have to sin for now we have a greater power in us, but we still can sin if we choose. It is in the area of our old sin nature that demons can have and keep control of believers as well as unbelievers. That is what happened with the pastor on the previous day and the young woman on this day.
The woman eventually went back to her seat, obviously drained and dazed. She barely seemed to be with it at all. I combined the last 2 sessions so we could get to the prayer for everyone and that went well. Afterwards I sought her out, layed hands on her head and prayed for her again.
I was surprised to see her stay afterwards. She was one of the 7 from the church who I was to baptize that afternoon. They were all Dahlits, the untouchables who are so low in Indian society they are below the caste system. Moses talked to them, I said a bit but couldn’t talk much. She clearly was a new believer who wanted to follow Jesus in baptism. We drove to the river, chased some water buffalo out of the way, and went in to baptize. She was the 6th one baptized. It felt very right having her take that step of faith and public commitment. I really believe God did a great work in her that day.
The woman I baptized after her, the last one, put her hands over her face when she came up out of the water. She started shaking and screaming as well. Falling down in deep very rocky water is not good so we prayed and got her to the shore. She came out of it quickly then.
Back at the church we talked, took pictures, a special meal was served to those baptized and we had more group and individual prayers. Pray for these young women. Ramulamma is the name of the first and Mangamma the second. I am not able to know what really happened afterwards, if the demons were totally gone or tried to attack them again, but God knows and will take care of them.
These women came from Hinduism with its millions of gods, many supestitutions, pagan sacrifices and strange traditions and rituals. Any of these can open a person up to demonic possession. Once a demon has access to a person he clams the whole family and their children. When those children have children he claims them and moves from generation to generation. Its easy to see how Satan has so much control over so many people in a place like India. Without Jesus no one is free!
As I thought more about Jesus’ experience in the synagogue (Luke 4:31-37; Mark 1:26) the many parallels came clear. Believers can be demonized, and often not know it. It didn’t seem like the man in the synagogue knew he was demonized, nor did his friends and family. When exposed to the power and truth of Jesus, though, demons must bow and yield. This demon reacted to Jesus’ presence, but had to leave when commanded by Jesus. The demon spoke through the man and then threw the man down, shook him violently, and screamed. All this happened in these 2 instances.
I also had an experience of a woman rushing into a church while I was speaking. She was screaming for help while holding a young baby boy that was convulsing and crying. She was a new believer and knew it was a demon for it had attacked her baby before. I thought of when a man brought his young son to Jesus and said he had seizures and often fell into the fire or water. Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was healed (Matthew 17:14-18).
It was very strange to be living out Bible events, especially ones about demonizing. Knowing the end of the story, who wins the battle, certainly helps! When those kinds of things happen God’s power and presence is so overwhelming and awesome that the whole event becomes a worship experience! It is physically, spiritually and emotionally draining, but there is a tremendous spiritual ‘high’ that comes from witnessing God’s power displayed so clearly and convincingly. What a marvelous God we serve!
SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN INDIA (PASSING ON GOD’S BLESSING) – 3
(Friday, March 11, 2011) About the middle of my 5 weeks in India I needed to take a couple days off to recuperate from food poisoning and to let my voice heal and return. I could barely speak loud enough for the translator alongside me to hear me. I don’t know if this was an attack by Satan or just me experiencing what others experience in India. I am in no means exempt from the ‘normal’ things others go through in life. The rest was good, though. We didn’t cancel any pastors conferences, though, but we did combine a couple. I still ended up with 15 conferences in 20 days (2 days being Sundays).
We started this second phase off with a large pastors conference and an evening service which 300 attended. This was the largest group I spoke to. The smallest was a group of 9 people. Most were 40 to 60. I got to baptize 6 tribal women, the first in that area to come to Jesus. Only 3 were to be baptized, then 3 more joined them. The tribal people are from an entirely different ethnic background than the Indian people and are often seen and treated as if they are barely human. The huts they live in are thrown together from scrap paper and plastic they find in the gutters. They have a very poor life.
To make things worse, 3 of these 6 women were widows, a very difficult condition to be in in India. Another had been married but her husband left, something not uncommon among the unbelievers. He will go elsewhere and marry again but she will never be able to marry and have a husband and family. It was a real joy and privilege to baptize these women and pray for them. God will use them to spread the gospel to their family and friends and that will be the beginning of the first church among tribal people in that area.
What was most touching was buying and giving them Bibles. They never imagined having a great treasure like a Bible of their own. Tears of joy ran down their cheeks as I gave them out one by one. Several knelt down and touched or kissed my feet – the greatest way of showing respect in India. Having them do that to me was extremely humbling and very moving. I look forward to spending time with each one in heaven, talking about how God used them and what He did in their lives. I know Satan won’t give them up easily, but with God’s Word and a spiritual warfare handbook they have tools to have victory in Jesus.
My rough statistics show I spoke to over 1000 pastors, 350 plus wives and over 1500 people in evening and Sunday church services. I spoke about 100 times, and after each time people would come line up before me asking me to lay hands on them and pray for God to bless them. Jesus did that many times in the Bible, and so did the apostles when they sent others out to new mission fields. Praying individually for these precious people is one of my greatest privileges in India. It is time and energy consuming and comes when I am already tired, but it brings a joy that goes beyond any physical discomfort.
After the baptism and evening service where 300 came everyone wanted to be prayed for so they all stayed seated and I walked through them praying out loud and laying my hands on each head as I passed by. Usually, though, it is a one on one experience. The picture is of Jesus in me connecting with and filling them. It’s not that I am anything special, I never feel that. I do feel that I am God’s chosen instrument, all by His grace, of coming to give them some of God’s truth and compassion. To them I am a visible reminder that God loves them and reaches out to them in their need so in praying for them I feel I am the channel by which God’s blessing flows from Him, through me and into them.
I don’t pray the same thing for each one but something different, something I feel God would have me pray for each. Seeing them gives me an impression of what to pray for, or God puts thoughts and ideas into my mind. I pray for protection and blessing, but the rest is different depending on how God leads me. If I sense something particularly strong from the demonic realm I pray against that, and that is often the case. I want to be sensitive to pray for what He wants to do in their lives.
In asking God to ‘bless’ them I am not asking for material or financial things, although that can be part of what they need and what God provides. That isn’t what they are thinking of when they want me to ask God to bless them. It isn’t a culture that is materialistic and their minds don’t think in those terms as our do. When I ask God to bless them I am asking Him to make them spiritually prosperous, to fill them with His presence, to help them grow in Him and to use them for His glory.
Often they will have a little container of coconut oil and hand it to me. They can’t speak to me and they don’t understand a word I pray, but I know the oil is to anoint them. It is a picture of God’s Spirit filling and using them. I put some on their head and then with my finger draw a cross in oil on their forehead. Every time I do it I get a powerful feeling from God – the cross is what its all about. That’s where our hope and power lie. As the song says, the cross says it all.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN INDIA (THE HEALING GOD) – 4
(Monday, March 14, 2011) I’ve been blogging about some of my experiences in spiritual warfare in India. They are the highlight of this trip and its ministry. In a country filled with darkness and idols God’s power shines in stark contrast. While America is full of various shades of gray, in India it’s all black or white.
I’ve never gone into a shrine, temple or mosque. I have no desire to. The enemy lives and controls there and I want nothing to do with that. You can sense that evil presence when you are in the vicinity. Temples and shrines are everywhere. Many are small, just a few feet square. They are outside people’s homes, in fields and even in the middle of roads where traffic has to swerve around them. Some are quite large, though, like Tirumala Venkateswara Temple near Tirupati.
We drove around it one evening but didn’t go inside. The temple is for Lord Vishnu, the most popular of the millions of Hindu gods. Tirumala Venkateswara Temple is the richest and most visited temple in the world. The only religious site in the world that receives as many visitors is the Vatican. Five and a half million dollars a day or donated at the temple, and that in a country where the majority work for two or three dollars a day. One hundred thousand pilgrims visit the temple daily. One half million visit on holy days, many more than visit even the Vatican. We can only imagine the oppression felt by Christians who try to grow churches any near these places. The power of Satan is extremely great in these concentrations of demons.
God keeps showing His people that His power is greater. He is known throughout India as the healing God, the One to go to when all else fails. Each time I am in India I meet person after person who came to the Lord because a Christian prayed for them when there was no hope for them to live. Because God healed their body they know He can heal their soul as well.
While some parts of India have modern medicine as we know it here, most places have little or no medical care. Crutches, shriveled hands, missing legs, crooked fingers, eyes blinded by cataracts, fevers, aches, pains and every ailment known to man walk around everywhere. Not a day goes by that I don’t see or pray for those needing physical healing. Often it is closely related to demonic activity as well.
In one town I prayed for a Christian woman who was in terrible stomach and back pain. Some time ago someone who wanted to cause her harm touched her with the purpose of transferring a demon to her. The demon caused extreme weakness and awful pain and fever. They didn’t know what to do or how to get rid of it. I spend a couple hours in her home, praying for her several times. A short time later I heard she was all right, that God had healed her.
One of the pastors invited us over for breakfast and while there asked me to pray for his teenage son who came to the conference with him. They said the boy had ‘fits’ (a common term to describe falling, shaking and screaming or moaning). The demon made him very weak with fever, so he was hardly able to function. I prayed for him at home and at the conference.
During one conference a pastors wife came to me during the first break and, with Moses interpreting, said she had terrible head pain and couldn’t concentrate on what I was saying. It seems the pain was something she often had. I prayed for her right then, rebuking anything any demon was doing and asking God to heal her. Later that day I found out God immediately healed her of the pain.
I heard of a man who had back pain and after I prayed it was gone. Numerous accounts of God healing in response to prayer came back to me, many more to Pastor Moses as people talked and shared with him in Telugu.
I have no problem praying for God to heal people there. If He does so or not is up to Him. He doesn’t always heal. I wasn’t able to pray for myself to be healed, but others I prayed for with the same thing were healed. For these people, their only hope is for God to heal them. If not they will suffer until they die. It’s not like then can run to the drug store for an aspirin to help their pain. Many of the situations are even beyond the help of medicine in this country. Praying to rebuke and stop anything any demons may be doing is certainly something we can and should do. Praying for God to be their Great Physician, have mercy on them and heal them is definitely doable for me. He gets the credit and glory when they are healed, and no one who isn’t healed complains or asks why. They are glad for those He does heal, not questioning God because of those He doesn’t heal. That’s a mindset we all could use!
SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN INDIA (THE BATTLE FOR INDIA’S PASTORS) – 5
(Wednesday, March 16, 2011) In India I never once had to address the question of whether Satan or demons were real and if they could attack us or not. In this country I often spend most of my time addressing those issues. In India they have experienced the evil side of Satan, not the ‘angel of light’ side we see in the USA.
Pastors especially are attacked. They have deserted Satan’s army and are now in God’s army opposing Satan’s Kingdom. That makes them prime targets for demonic oppression. Because they are pastors they play a very key role in the growth of God’s Kingdom in India. Stopping them stops the church. They come from backgrounds of Hinduism of Islam and have generations of ancestors who worshipped these demonic gods. The places where they live and worship have been given over to demonic forces many times over in the past several thousand years so when they live or worship there these spirits rise up and fight for what has been given to them. Not surprisingly, many people around them hate Christians and the church. They have evil thoughts toward these men and their families. Their deep desire is to see them destroyed and gone from the land of India. These thoughts and desires are prayers which empower demons to act to bring them to pass. Being a pastor in India definitely puts you right on the cutting edge of the battle between God and Satan.
Having ministered to 130 men and 35 wives last time, we set our sights much higher this time. By having a different pastors conference in a different place day after day we could go into unreached areas and help rural pastors who have never had any opportunity to have any pastoral training. They are thrown right into the hottest part of the battle without even knowing what their weapons are, much less how to use them! Thus we were able to train over 1000 pastors and 350 wives in 18 total locations. All day every day was a pastors conference – 4 sessions a day.
In the morning sessions I spoke about what God expects of them as pastors – what it means to pastor God’s sheep. I also focused on the importance of their own spiritual growth. Currently I’m writing a second book for India which is about the basics of pastoring – what God expects of pastors. This will be a great way to reach many more pastors, and give them more information than in a one day conference. What we need is money to translate and print this book.
The afternoon was given over to spiritual warfare training and ministry. From Mark 5 I taught the basics of deliverance from demonic oppression and possession. I showed how God’s power is great enough to provide freedom from bondage to anything demonic. I taught them how this power and authority was available for them and how to use it in their lives as well as for their family and church (Luke 9:1; 10:17-19). I worked in numerous magic tricks to reinforce key points and these were very well received, usually with loud applause.
Needless to say, they were very motivated to learn how to have victory in these areas! I ended each afternoon the same way I did last time in India – with a group prayer for deliverance. I prayed a sentence, Moses translated it into Telugu phrase by phrase and the people repeated each phrase after him. It was the most awesome experience I can imagine! God’s power was so strong and evident each time we did it – 18 times this past trip! The walls shook with the volume and emotion of their prayers renouncing anything demonic and claiming Jesus freedom and victory. I can’t imagine a greater emotional high than I experienced each time we concluded the day that way. Each one could feel God’s presence in a very real and powerful way in the room. Arms were raised, tears streamed down cheeks and lives were changed and demonic power was broken and God’s people were set free! No wonder the demons didn’t want them to hear about that!!!
I closed by raising my arms (something I’ve never been comfortable doing, but at this point I couldn’t keep them down!) and praying for their deliverance, detail by detail. I committed them to God and prayed for them, their ministries, families and churches. I felt like I was pouring out my very soul in that prayer, that it was something God wanted me to pray because it was a prayer He was going to answer in marvelous ways.
Every day when we were finished pastors (and wives) would share a public or private testimony of how they felt God’s presence come into them, how they felt delivered from the bondage of Satan and how wonderful and glorious it was. Time after time they said that they no longer have to fear demons for they know what to do when facing them. Days and weeks later reports were still coming in from each and every place about how God used and blessed them that day. Some even took off the next day to travel great distances to come to hear the same conference again in another place!
Literally hundreds of them begged us to come to their area to teach these things to the pastors where they lived and ministered. Of course we had to turn down every one of these requests. Many asked us to set up a training center where they could come for days at a time to learn more about these things. That would be a wonderful thing to do, and if enough money is donated we will do it. Next time we will have some of these pastors conferences, but we will bring key pastor leaders we met to one or 2 locations and there teach them how to take these truths to the pastors in their area. We’ll teach them to train others so those men can go out and train still other pastors. We can’t be adding we must be multiplying. That’s the only way to reach so many very committed and gifted young pastors. How can we not do everything within out power to help them advance God’s kingdom there?
India will be a key nation in the world in not too many more years. I think it will replace the USA as the leading democracy in the world. That makes it even more important to assure that this sleeping giant wakes up to serve the Living God!
To make sure this wasn’t a one day affair that fades in their minds as time goes on we gave each participant 2 copies of my spiritual warfare handbook in their own language – one for them and one to give to another pastor. That is a great tool to help them to the next step in learning how to have victory. I kept thinking of how God will use these sessions and these books to spread His truth throughout this part of India. It’s like throwing a stone in a lake and watching the ripples go out until they hit the shore. We threw in the stone and the ripples are just starting, but they’ll keep going until Jesus returns!
You can’t imaging the thrill of being able to train, pray with and for, and equip (handbook) over a thousand young highly committed and very gifted young pastors. What a tremendous honor and privilege!!! Some of them are gifted in spiritual warfare beyond what God has gifted me. This will be the start of their developing their gifts. They will take these truths and teach them in India going way beyond anything I could imagine. What a great privilege and blessing to be part of this!
(If you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, in English, email me and I’ll send you an electronic copy. If you’d like to donate to help print more copies, for we have used up our first printing of 6,000, send your donation to me or Main Street Baptist Church. Please keep praying for India’s pastors and our ministry there.)
Perhaps send this one to the whole India list, asking for donations and offering the other blogs to those interested.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN INDIA COMPARED TO THE USA – 6
(Friday, March 18, 2011) What a contrast between doing spiritual warfare in India and in America. I’ve shared many of my personal experiences. There are more but I think I’ve said enough for now. What I was aware of was the contrast between ministering in spiritual warfare in the USA and in India. I kept a list going when I would think of something else. Here is a summary of what I wrote:
IGNORANT, SKEPTICAL of demonic activity
AWARE, CONVINCED of demonic activity
Demonic LAST RESORT
Demonic ALWAYS CONSIDERED
USA founded in LIGHT, turning to DARKNESS
In past DARKNESS, now LIGHT coming
SUBTLE, HIDDEN work of Satan
OPEN, OBVIOUS work of Satan
CAMOUFLAGED activities, GRAY to hide it
OVERT EVIL evident, DARK clearly shown
Christians UNTRAINED, FEARFUL of demons
Christians UNTRAINED, FRUSTRATED by evil
Demons, Satan GROWING STRONGER
Demons, Satan slowly LOSING GROUND
Because of our ‘Christian’ heritage and culture, even to today, Satan’s work in the country is far more subtle and underground. Few even recognize that he exists. He works behind the scenes and in more “socially acceptable” ways. Yet is bondage is just as great and in many ways he is more dangerous here because he does work unrecognized. It’s harder to deal with a sneaky, sly, hypocritical child who pretends on thing but really is another way than it is with an in-your-face rebellious child; at least I certainly think so. That’s the difference between demonizing in the USA and in India. Any disease that isn’t recognized is more dangerous than one whose symptoms are clear and obvious.
Paul says we should not be unaware of Satan’s ways and traps (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). In this country most Christians don’t recognize Satan’s tactics and work; many don’t even believe he exists. There is no way they are prepared to fight against him. At least in India they know he exists and what he can do. They may not know how to fight either, but they know they need to learn and want to learn. In that they are ahead of many in this country.
The most sobering observation I made is that in this country Satan’s power is slowly growing as we turn further from Jesus while in India his power is slowly fading as millions are coming to salvation every year. While demons are losing ground little by little in India they are gain it little by little in America. No one can deny the direction our country is going. I thank God for the privilege of taking a little of what He has shown me here and being able to transplant it into India. May God continue to bless and use His Word as it brings fruit for His Kingdom.
(If you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, in English, email me and I’ll send you an electronic copy. If you’d like to donate to help print more copies, for we have used up our first printing of 6,000, send your donation to me or Main Street Baptist Church. Please keep praying for India’s pastors and our ministry there.)
ARE YOU GROWING SPIRITUALLY? HERE’S HOW TO TELL – 1
The standard we use to judge the success of a company or business today is the bottom line, the numbers that show how much profit they made. Unfortunately we carry that standard over to the church as well. Many feel that the more people who attend a church and the larger the church budget the greater the church. That is not how God evaluates churches though.
I have been pastoring the same small church for over 30 years. There were several times in the early years when I wanted to quit, when I thought we weren’t successful because we continued to stay small. God taught me that the way He evaluates the health of a church has nothing to do with the number of people who attend or how much money it has. After all, we don’t know the size of a single church in the Bible. We do know if they are healthy and growing spiritually, but we don’t know their size because to God that isn’t important.
What does God expect from a healthy church? How can we tell if a church is healthy and growing? How can we tell if we as individuals are healthy and growing? We are commanded to grow (2 Peter 3:18), but just what does that mean? How can we measure our growth?
When my children were young we measured their growth every 6 months. We would mark on a chart how tall they were and we could see how much they had grown since the last time. We don’t have that kind of measuring stick to tell if we or our church is growing, but we do have some standards in God’s Word which can help us measure growth. I want to give you 10 of them. See how you are doing compared to them, and see how your church is doing as well.
1. Do you yearn more and more for heaven, think about it, etc?
Philippians 1:21-24 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men … while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
As you grow spiritually, you will think more about heaven and look forward to it more and more. When we are new Christians heaven is a nice but vague place, but the closer we get to God the more we look forward to being in heaven with Him.
As we become more like Jesus this world and the things of it are less important. The sin and suffering become more and more distasteful to us. We think often of heaven and being in perfection with God for all eternity?
The things of this earth fade but our heavenly home becomes more and more real.
Do you yearn more for heaven than you used to? That is a sign you are growing spiritually.
ARE YOU GROWING SPIRITUALLY? HERE’S HOW TO TELL – 2
We have been looking at ways to measure our spiritual growth. Last time we talked about yearning more and more for heaven as a sign we are growing spiritually. We’ll look at 2 more signs this blog:
2. Are you becoming more loving in how your treat others?
Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Do you find you re becoming kinder to people, more patient and compassionate that you were? Are you more sensitive to the needs and hurts of others? Does your heart ache for the trials and difficulties others face?
Do you find you are genuinely interested in others? That you are more willing to do what you can to help those in need?
As we become more like Jesus we love others as He loves – totally and unconditionally. That’s how He loves us. Its only natural that as we grow to become more like Him we find ourselves loving people more like He does.
Are you becoming more loving in how you feel about and how you treat others? That is another sign that you are growing spiritually.
3. Are you more aware of God’s work in your life?
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
As we grow we will recognize God’s hand in our life more and more. At first we see the big things He does, but as we grow closer to Him we start noticing that everything that happens is because of Him.
Do you give Him credit for the little things as well as the big things in your life? Are you more aware that He is in control of all that happens, the difficulties a well as the good things? Are you less willing to give yourself credit for what you accomplish and quicker to give God credit?
As we grow we become more aware of how much we need God. He doesn’t need us to do His work, He can get along fine without us. We could do nothing without Him, though. If God withheld His grace and help from your life, what would it be like? What could you accomplish for Him on your own, without His help?
Are you becoming more and more aware of God working in all areas of you life? That is a sign of spiritual growth.
ARE YOU GROWING SPIRITUALLY? HERE’S HOW TO TELL – 3
We have been looking at ways to measure our spiritual growth. We talked about yearning more and more for heaven, being more forgiving of others and becoming more aware of God’s work in our lives as signs we are growing spiritually. We’ll look at 2 more signs this blog:
4. Does God’s Word have a greater place in your life than it used to?
1 Peter 2:2-3 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Psalms 119:9-11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Do you find the Bible is more important to you? Do you appreciate it and turn to it more than before? Do you remember God’s promises and think of them during the day? Do you have an increasing number of favorite Scriptures you turn to in difficult times?
Is the time you spend reading the Bible more and more precious to you? Are the truths you read in the Bible having a greater influence in all areas of your life? Do you find your life changing to conform to what God says in His Word?
As we grow so does our appetite. That is true of children, and its also true of Christians. All growing things need a source of food, and the Bible is the food source for our soul.
Do you find your love of the Bible growing? Is it more influential in your life than it used to be? If so, that is a sign of spiritual growth.
5. Is your worship more God-centered and frequent than it used to be?
Job 1:20-21 Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Psalms 100 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations
Do you find yourself worshipping more than you used to? Does praise to God naturally come to your mind throughout the day? Do you feel closer to God than you used to when you worship?
When we are new Christians we enjoy worship because it makes us feel good. Praising God is great and very enjoyable for us. But the purpose of worship isn’t so that we feel good. It’s so that God feels good! Worship is all about God, not all about us! As we grow our worship focuses more and more on Who and what God is. We worship when walking outside, sitting at home or laying in bed. Worship becomes a part of our every day life. It isn’t just something we do when singing on a Sunday morning.
Do you find yourself thinking of God and His greatness more than you used to? Does worship naturally flow from you throughout the day when you think of He love for you or all He has given you? Do you feel more closely connected to God when you worship than you used to? This is a good sign you are growing spiritually.
ARE YOU GROWING SPIRITUALLY? HERE’S HOW TO TELL – 4
(Monday, March 28), 2011) We have been looking at ways to measure our spiritual growth. We talked about yearning more and more for heaven, being more forgiving of others, becoming more aware of God’s work in our lives, growing in our appreciation of the Bible and having our worship become more God-centered as signs we are growing spiritually. We’ll look at 2 more signs this blog:
6. Are you more sensitive to sin than you used to be?
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Rom 7:14-19 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
As young Christians we are aware of things that are sin, things we shouldn’t think or do. But as we grow closer to God we begin to see sin in more and more areas of our life. We start recognizing that our selfish motives and prideful attitudes are sin. We become more and more aware of how far we fall short of God’s perfection. Instead of becoming more and more like Jesus we feel less and less like Him.
When Paul was a new Christian he wrote that he was the least of all apostles. Later he wrote that he was the least of all Christians. Toward the end of his life he wrote he was the least of all people. Do you see the progression? As he grew he became more and more aware of his own sin and failure.
Are you more sensitive to sin in your life than you were? Are you more aware of when you sin and more bothered by it? Are you less apt to give yourself credit for things you do? Do you thank God more and more for His grace in your life? Are you more appreciative of His free forgiveness than you used to be?
Becoming more sensitive to sin in your life is a sign you are growing spiritually.
7. Are you quicker to forgive others who hurt you?
Matt 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Col 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Do you find that you are quicker to forgive people than you were a few years ago? Are you less likely to argue or seek revenge against those who hurt you? Do you forgive people as soon as they hurt you and not wait for them to apologize first? Do you forgive them as soon as the offense takes place?
Jesus is our perfect example of forgiveness. He forgives us immediately and totally, even before we ask Him for forgiveness. As we become more like Him we will find ourselves being quicker to forgive others. They may hurt us on purpose or accidentally, but our first response is getting to be to quickly forgive them.
Do you find yourself quicker to forgive than you were in the past? That is a good sign that spiritual growth is taking place.
ARE YOU GROWING SPIRITUALLY? HERE’S HOW TO TELL – 5
(Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011) We have been looking at ways to measure our spiritual growth. We talked about yearning more and more for heaven, being more forgiving of others, becoming more aware of God’s work in our lives, growing in our appreciation of the Bible, having our worship become more God-centered, being more sensitive to sin and becoming quicker to forgive others as signs we are growing spiritually. We’ll look at 2 more signs this blog:
8. Are you becoming more aware of how great and powerful God is?
Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Isa 64:8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
2 Cor 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Phil 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Is God ‘growing’ in your life? We know God doesn’t grow, He doesn’t get bigger. He is as big as He can possibly be and He has always been that way. But when we grow in our faith we become more and more aware of what a wonderful, awesome, all-powerful God He is! As we see evidence of His sovereign control day after day our concept of Him gets larger and larger.
Does God seem greater to you now than He did in the past? Are you continually seeing more and more ways He controls everything? When God gets bigger in your life your faith and trust in Him grow as well. We have big faith in a big God, but only small faith in a small God. Is your faith and trust in God growing as well? That shows that God is becoming greater and greater in your life.
If you are more aware than you used to be of how great God is, you are growing spiritually.
9. Is your prayer life becoming more personal and stronger?
James 5:16 The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Do you find yourself talking to God more than you used to? Is prayer more natural, something you do throughout the day without even realizing it at times? Does talking to God about things come naturally to you, something that automatically happens? Are your first thoughts about asking God for wisdom or taking to Him about the problem you are facing?
Do you find yourself talking to God about all kinds of things, not just asking Him to do things for you? Is your prayer more centered on God Himself instead of what you want Him to do for you? Do you feel more comfortable praying than you did in the past?
When a relationship grows people learn to communicate better. Do you find your prayer life becoming more personal and stronger? If so, you are growing spiritually.
ARE YOU GROWING SPIRITUALLY? HERE’S HOW TO TELL – 6
(Thursday, March 31, 2011) Today we conclude our series on how to tell if we are growing spiritually. We talked about yearning more and more for heaven, being more forgiving of others, becoming more aware of God’s work in our lives, growing in our appreciation of the Bible, having our worship become more God-centered, being more sensitive to sin, becoming quicker to forgive others, becoming more aware of how great God is and our prayer life becoming stronger and more personal as signs we are growing spiritually. We’ll look at the 10th sign this blog.
10. Do you find yourself better able to recognize His voice when He speaks to you?
John 14:26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 10:4, 16, 27 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. … I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. … My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Acts 9:11-15 The Lord told Peter, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.
Do you find yourself more interested in listening to God, in wanting to hear from Him, instead of just being interested in telling Him what you want Him to do for you? Do you recognize that what God has to say to you is much more important than what you have to say to Him?
Are you better able to recognize when God is speaking to you? Can you better tell His voice from your own thoughts and from Satan’s counterfeits? Do you have a stronger and stronger desire to want to hear from Him and listen to what He says?
Do you give God credit for the thoughts and ideas, the wisdom and guidance, the conviction and comfort He speaks to you each day?
If you are better able to recognize when God speaks to you then you are growing spiritually.
These 10 standards can help you see how and where you are growing. Look at each one carefully, pray about where you are at and if you are growing in this area. If you find one where you haven’t been growing as you should than you can focus on that so you can grow in that area.
Remember, it is God who brings about the growth in us as we allow His Spirit to work in us (John 15:1-8) and produce His fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-26). Just as a parent oversees the maturing of his child, so our heavenly Father oversees our growth. His promise is that He will work in us as long as we are on this earth so that we continue to grow more and more like Jesus (Philippians 1:6). What a blessing and what a privilege that is. God expects us to grow, but He doesn’t expect us to do it on our own. He will bring that about as we follow Him.