Friday, February 10, 2012

Bottle Up Blindness (Am Example of Trusting God to Use You Personally!)

In 2001, Doug Nichols was the speaker in the Old Tab in our evening service. As you know, he always challenges us with huge projects. He told the story of a 26 year old minister who was burdened for the many orphans roaming the streets of New York city. It was a time when thousands of immigrants were coming to America and because of the many hardships they faced, both enroute to and in trying to get settled in a new country, many parents died and the streets of New York City were filled with orphans. No one had the time or money to look after them. Horrified by their plight, Charles Brace began the foster home plan. When he ran out of homes, he organized a unique solution, the Orphan Train. The idea was simple: carefully put hundreds of orphans on a train heading west. As the train passed through towns along the way, Christian committees brought approved Christian families to the train depot to claim a new son or daughter from the Orphan Train.

By the time the last Orphan Train steamed west in 1929, thousands of children had found new homes and new lives. Of course, we know that not all the homes would have been the best.

Doug Nichols then challenged us to adopt 25,000 or even 50,000 orphans. As we closed in prayer, I felt the Lord clearly saying to me, “You cannot adopt 25,000 orphans, but you could help that many children from going blind.” Actually this had been on my mind for several years already. Over and over this thought went through my mind, “For lack of 60 cents a child is going blind. What if one of our nine precious grandchildren had gone blind for lack of 60 cents?”

No surgery can restore the child’s sight when blindness occurs from a lack of Vitamin A. Christian Blind Mission (the world’s leading organization to prevent and cure blindness) can purchase, ship to other countries and dispense three capsules of Vitamin A for only 60 cents. It will be stored in the child’s liver and prevent blindness for a year. Children between the ages of two and six are in special need of this vitamin.

Henry and I prayed and thought of every creative way we could to make this thing work. We envisioned hundreds of boys and girls, and even adults, collecting pennies, dimes and quarters. Finally we thought of small prescription bottles from the drug store that would hold dimes or quarters and we would organize a project much like the Christmas Shoe Boxes. Small bottles would be made available and one person in each church or school or any organization would be responsible to set up the project in their particular setting, see that the bottles were collected at a certain time and one cheque sent to the Mission.

We presented our idea to the Mission and they were thankful for any help. We persuaded them that we needed a short video – about seven or eight minutes long - to present the need. It took quite some time before they produced a video - just for us and our project – which we called Bottle-up-Blindness. We believe the video challenges every age group and by now our vision is much more than just having children involved. We believe every family member can be a part of this project. Although the little bottles we provide hold dimes and quarters, any small containers can be used to collect pennies, nickels - or even loonies and toonies.

The reason we chose these two prescription bottles is so that children have a reachable goal within a reasonable time period. Adults may want to collect all year, but for children we feel it's best to have an 8 – 10 week period. The challenge is: collect 30 dimes and you can prevent blindness in five children; collect 24 quarters and you prevent blindness in 10 children. Even 60 pennies helps one child.

-- Henry & Eva Goertzen in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada

Note from Doug Nichols: Perhaps God would use you to do a similar project; 60¢ to provide a meal and the Gospel to a street child in Manila or orphan in Africa. Imagine, $6 to provide the Gospel and feed 10 needy children and $60 for 100!;

Monday, February 6, 2012

Respectable Sins -- Really?

by Doug Nichols

My wife Margaret and I have been convicted in reading Jerry Bridges’ book, “Respectable Sins (Confronting the Sins We Tolerate)” published by NavPress.

The first six chapters deal with sin in general with titles such as: “Ordinary Saints”, “The Disappearance of Sin”, “The Malignancy of Sin”, “The Remedy of Sin”, “The Power of the Holy Spirit”, and “Directions for Dealing with Sins”.

In the next fourteen chapters, Bridges lists “respectable sins” and how to deal with them. Sins such as Ungodliness, Anxiety and Frustration, Discontentment, Un-thankfulness, Pride, Selfishness, Lack of Self-control, Impatience and Irritability, Anger, The Weeds of Anger, Judgmentalism, Envy, Jealousy and Related Sins, Sins of the Tongue, and Worldliness.

I am encouraged by what Bridges writes about the purpose of his book. He writes, “While seeking to address these “respectable sins”, however, I want this to be a book of hope. We are never to wallow hopelessly in our sins. Rather, we are to believe the gospel through which God has dealt with both the guilt of our sins and His dominion over us.

The gospel, though, is only for sinners, for those who recognize their need of it. Many Christians think of the gospel as only for unbelievers. Once we trust in Christ, some of the thinking goes; we no longer need the gospel. But, as I seek to bring out in this book, the gospel is a vital gift from God not only for our salvation but also to enable us to deal with the ongoing activity of sin in our lives. So we still need the gospel every day.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How would your Christian friends and acquaintances describe you?

by Doug Nichols

My wife and I have enjoyed reading one of the best biographies we have ever read. It is an old book that was first published in 1900 entitled, Pastor Hsi by Mrs. Howard Taylor. Near the end of the book, she describes a pastor of a Christian refuge ministry to opium addicts. The Refuge later became a church with over 200 men who had trusted Christ, as well as their wives and families.

This is how Mrs. Taylor described Pastor Sung as she and her husband were at a meeting at the Refuge:

Here from the doorway of the women's room we can see to better advantage, and it is not quite so hot as in the kitchen. What a bright,interesting scene it is. Such greetings, laughter, friendly conversation; such busy preparations for the meal! Mats are spread under the awning, upon which, grouped around little tables, the older men are seated; and the rest, supplied with basins and chopsticks like ourselves, sit comfortably on the ground, or perch on the steps of the side houses.

And there, in the midst of them all, under the spreading vine, is dear old Pastor Sung, manager of the Refuge, and spiritual father of almost everyone in this large company.

What a picture he makes, surrounded as with a halo by their loving reverence, seated on that low wooden bench, with the flowers behind him and the cool green leaves overhead, his face all aglow as he looks from one to another of his large, happy family. Dear old man; small, spare, and stooping, with a little whitey-brown queue, and a strongly marked, benevolent face: dear old wonderful man, who, without learning or special gifts, simply by the power of the Holy Spirit in his loving heart, has drawn all these to Jesus―he is worth coming to China to see.

This is one of the most moving descriptions of a godly man that we have ever read. I can hardly wait to get to heaven to meet Pastor Sung and Pastor and Mrs. Hsi.

Would someone be able to write a similar description of you? I think of Matthew 5:16, Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Do Our Sins Catch Up to Us in Our Old Age?

Our sins have a way of catching up to us in our age. As we read in the Word of God, “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after” (1 Timothy 5:24, nasb).

If you and I do not deal with our sins now, they will surely be evident when we get older. Sins such as stubbornness, unkindness and selfishness seem to really hit us as older people.

Recently I was visiting a Senior Care Home about a friend in need. As I was leaving, they asked me if my friend was like another Christian acquaintance of ours whom they had cared for previously. I answered, “What do you mean?”

They responded, “Well, we had so much trouble with Mr. ___. In fact, not only did we have real problems with him, but with his wife when she came to visit!” They went on to say that this Christian couple said very bad things to the directors and staff, were extremely difficult to care for, and were rude and never satisfied.

I felt ashamed that this was the testimony of some of my friends. Even though I had noticed this, especially in the gentleman’s life over the years, I was never in a situation to discuss this with him, but possibly should have.

It is important to not only hear the Word of God Sunday after Sunday in messages from our pastors, but also to obey the Word of God. As we read scripture day by day describing the characteristics of a godly person, we need to immediately confess our sins before God and ask His help in obeying for His glory.

Any offense that we give or criticism that we receive should never be because of our crudeness in speech, and un-Christlike actions, but our only offence should be because of our godly character and in speaking of the cross, the gospel.

So what type of person are you going to be at age 70, 80 and 90? Grumpy? Unkind? Selfish? Stubborn? Or are you going to be a man or woman of God with character qualities which bring glory to God.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hey buddy, can't you be nice?

Recently my wife and I were talking about the many verses (such as Colossians 3) which speak of the characteristics of a Christian which seem to include being Christ-like, loving, kind, gracious, understanding and compassionate. All of these center on the word “kindness”.

Even if you are with people you do not necessarily like being around or in church sitting next to people who “rub you the wrong way”, true believers should be kind. In fact, the scripture even says to love your enemies, to be kind to them, help them, and clothe them.

Many Christians do not open the door for others, they don’t get a chair for those who are older, they don’t let people go first in line, they are selfish and they do not greet people. In fact, they are simply rude!

So how are you doing? Is your relationship with Christ evidenced by your kindness? Or are you just one of those grumpy people whose personality does nothing to draw people to Christ?

You can change! You can trust God today to empower and enable you to live out the “fruit of the Spirit” beginning with “kindness”. You can begin to practice good manners to the glory of God!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tell The Truth No Matter What

The lesson from the dungeon is that if you are going to be a servant of God, you are going to have to tell the truth--the good, the bad, and the ugly--no matter what. And you’re going to have to live with the blast furnace of criticism and opposition.

Witness the integrity of Joseph in this matter. Some people must have looked at him years later and said, "He became the prime minister of Egypt overnight."

No, he didn’t. God was fashioning Joseph for leadership in the crucible of suffering, hammering out his convictions on the anvil of life. And one thing God was teaching Joseph was this: "Joseph, tell the truth. Do what is right, because it is always right to do right." Joseph learned the lesson, and he stood out in the midst of malaise around him.

Just before his death, Paul told his spiritual son and disciple, Timothy, ‘Preach the Word … For the time will come when men will not put up sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear’ (2 Timothy 4:2-3, niv).

Calvin says, "All love to be flattered. Hence the majority of teachers, in desiring to yield to the corrupt wishes of the world, adulterate the Word of God."

From Alistair Begg’s Hand of God,Moody Publishers (Chicago, IL, 1999) (p. 106)