Love Doesn’t Let Anyone Go to Hell (Part 3)

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I experienced hell. No place on earth is like it. If we care about anyone, we will do our best to rescue them from the ravages of the devil and his place of torment.

This is part 3 of a series “5 Life-Changing Lessons I learned as a Cancer Patient.” Read the introduction “You’ve Got Cancer!” 

Read part 2 here.    

Part 3 “What to Say to a Sick Man?” is practical and located here.

 

Following my first chemotherapy treatment I was reduced to what seemed like a near vegetable state. I was weak physically, and weaker still in my mind. In a drug induced stupor I was susceptible to demonic attack. As I tried to sleep that first night I felt all hell was turned upside down and poured out on me.  Hideous, evil thoughts I’d never seen or imagined camped in my mind.

I do deliverance ministry. I know how to combat the devil. But this was different. When I called for the blood of Jesus, the devil himself seemed to appear.  I couldn’t get free no matter what I tried. What I experienced was the horrendous hatred of the devil toward me and every human being. No words can adequately describe the devil and his hatred. No words can fully prepare a person for the torments of hell.

The next night I came armed with the prayers of my oldest son and the elders of the church. Through their prayers I was greatly protected.

I see now more clearly than ever the need to rescue people from the devil’s deception and bring them into heaven. If we care at all about friends, relatives, co-workers we will tell them about Jesus. No feeling should stop us from giving the good news about salvation from hell to people we care about. I say again, if we love someone, let’s spare nothing in order to tell them about Jesus and lead them to salvation. (See some posts on this site for simple, empowering ways to lead someone to Christ—it’s serious business, but also a lot of fun!)

Hell is neither picnic nor place to go and be with friends. Learn about Chicken Evangelism—bring up Christ before you chicken out. If we love ‘em, tell ‘em ‘bout Jesus now!

What to say to a sick man?

This is Part 2 of a 5 part series. Read the introduction here.

Read Part 1 “Who are the Majestic Ones?” here.

Here’s something practical, down-to-earth, and just plain helpful. ” What to say to a sick man?” This can be important for evangelism too.

Nearly everyone wants to help, but how? Most of us struggle to find words when we meet someone who is sick or going through a crisis. I admit that up until now my most common response has been to say, “I’m sorry.”  I was doing my best to empathize with the hurting. But since I got cancer I’ve discovered that to say, “I’m sorry” doesn’t help much. It just leaves me in my condition. What I need is hope and lots of it! I found that any attempt at hope, even suggestions for crazy alternative therapies, offers some hope.

Teachings don’t help much either. Sick men don’t need teaching; we need faith.

What should a person say to a sick guy? The best response I found is for someone to come along side, listen and humbly ask, “What can I do to help?” Who knows? Maybe the need is a ride? Or meals for the family? Or help to change a light bulb?

Flynn is a young and single father whose daughter Riley had a dramatic bout with a cancerous brain tumor. Riley survived the surgery with eighty-eight stitches in her head. Flynn mentioned something I had recently taught the church. “I really appreciated what you taught the other day. You said, “Don’t say, ‘I’m sorry’ to people who are hurting. That doesn’t help. What we need is encouragement, not sympathy.”

Think about it. “What can I do to help?” or “How can I help you?” These questions show humility on our part. No need to guess or assume what someone else needs. These questions place the sick man in the driver’s seat. They show respect to the sick. They empower the person who’s hurting and allow him or her to express his own needs. And who knows better than anyone what’s the need of the moment than the sick man himself?

 

Who Are the Majestic Ones? (Part 1 of 5-part Series)

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5 Life-changing Lessons I learned as a Cancer Patient

Click here to read the introduction “You Have Cancer!”

My wife, Kari, and some of our children stood on either side of me as I announced to our church that I had cancer. When we sat down, the entire church immediately gathered around us and started ministering to us in faith and prayer. They didn’t hesitate one bit. One lady, Sherry, who is herself a cancer survivor, announced with unmitigated faith and passion, “Christ is a big “C”; cancer is a little “c”! There I was, a broken man, and the whole church was standing as one in staunch faith and love.

Who are the majestic ones? “As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16). The church of the Living Water has stood by me like an immoveable rock throughout the duration of my chemotherapy treatments. If I didn’t know it before (and I did) I know it now—the saints of God, the church, are the majestic ones in all the earth.

My wife and family, each and every son and daughter, are giving me unwavering assistance throughout this trial. They are majestic in my eyes.

My fellow pastors in Muscatine have rallied to my benefit. God has heard prayers from the pulpits of nearly every church in town. Baptist, Methodist, Vineyard, non-denominational, and so on, they have all prayed for me. These are a majestic band of brothers.

“A brother in need is a brother indeed.” The aphorism is true. Crisis reveals our true friends. Nor should anyone be surprised that Christian people are salient in the mercy department. Every believer in Jesus Christ has received His mercy. It’s only natural that we pass it on.

It’s common in some quarters to criticize the church in America. Yet when the chips are down, who is the greatest support group anywhere? Unbelievers need to know there is an assembly of “Good Samaritans” ready and willing to help in time of need. God bless the church!

5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned as a Cancer Patient

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“You Have Cancer!” (Introduction to 5 Life-changing Lessons I Learned from Cancer)

Who Are the Majestic Ones? (Part 1)

What to Say to a Sick Man (Part 2)

Love Doesn’t Let Anyone Go to Hell (Part 3)

Why Teach Kids Memory Verses (Part 4)

Loving God (Part 5)

 “You Have Cancer”

 

The doctor was firm but gentle when he spoke to me the fateful words, “Your lungs are filled with cancer.” He went on to say this particular cancer was inoperable. Of course, I was shocked; we all were.

As a pastor and counselor, I knew the first stage of grief is denial. Well, I was in denial for some days. I couldn’t believe I had cancer. (After all, I was chopping wood and riding bicycle. I could ride up hills just as well as some of my adult children!) Dr. G., who first discovered the abnormality in my lungs from a CAT scan, had quizzed me in a way that should have prepared me for the dire diagnosis.

“Do you smoke?’

“No!”

Have you ever smoked?”

No.”

“Have you been around a lot of second hand smoke?”

“No.”

“Well, cancer has its own mind. Some people who smoke all their lives don’t get it and some people who never smoke do get it. I’m sending you to a cancer specialist.”

Following exploratory surgery, the cancer specialist later ameliorated his grim diagnosis to something happier. “You have lymphoma which has settled in your lungs. This is very unusual.” He went on to say that lymphoma is treatable and the survival rate is greater than for lung cancer.

If need be, I’m ready to die. I have received Jesus Christ as my Savior from the guilt of my sin. According to God’s Word, I am secure in His love and forgiveness and will be with Him when I die. In the meantime, I will try to beat this thing by the power of God and the prayers of His people. That’s my confidence in God and His Word. If I do die, I don’t want to die of cancer. I believe if someone is going to die, they should die healthy!

I have endured six chemo-therapy treatments. I don’t wish these treatments on anybody, but I realize God has used chemo to save my life, at least temporarily. Without treatment I would be a “goner” by now. Instead, I’m gaining strength and feeling better week by week. Praise God!

There’s got to be a reason for all this suffering. May I share 5 life-changing lessons I’ve already learned as a cancer patient? Blogs in this series “5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned as a Cancer Patient” tell the stories.

What is the Church?

What is “the Church?” Have you ever thought through a definition? I’ve been thinking about a good definition for years. Here’s my current thought.

Let us know what you think.

The Church is Redeemed people called out of the world to come together to hear God and do what He says.

The Church is the redeemed People of  God
•Redeemed
•Bought with blood
•We are not our own
•Paid for, purchased
•1 Cor 6:19-20
•not just an institution
•Not only an organization

•But an organism

The Church is “called out”
•Greek ek=out of plus kaleo=to call
•We are called out of the world, devil, flesh
•World: anything, good or bad, that takes us away from God

•“Called out’ to “come together to hear God”

Hebrew Background
•Qahal=to summon as assembly, congregation
•Numbers 10:7–two trumpet blasts

•People called out of tents, dwellings to  assemble at door of tabernacle to hear God”

Greek Background

•Ekklesia: the convened assembly (Acts 19:32)

•Assembly gathered to take responsibility to raise funds, govern military, declare war.

The Church is God’s People
•Not just “called out”
•Rather, called out to ”come together”

•109 times in New Testament

Church Myth # 1
•Attendance is optional
Rather,  God Himself has summoned His people!
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another . . .

 

Church Myth # 2
• “I have chosen to assemble”
Rather, God has summoned us
You did not choose Me, but I have chosen you (John 15:16)
The Church is—Called Out to Come Together
•To Hear—”My sheep hear My voice (John 1:27)

•To Do—Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them. . . (Matt 7:24ff).

What to Do When Church Meets?
•1 Cor 14:26:
•What is the outcome, then brethren? When you come together each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.

•Let all things be done for edification.

Summary:The Church is Redeemed People Called Out of the world to Come Together to Hear God and Do What He Says.What do you think?

18 Murders in Iowa on One Day

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On April 5, 2011 18 murders were committed in Iowa.  All took place at 2751 Tech Dr., Bettendorf, IA 52722.  The murders were done systematically, one at a time.  Records were kept of who did it, but none of the individuals involved have been charged.  All the victims were children, which makes these murders in Iowa even more egregious.

Who were the perpetrators of these ghastly events?  The Planned Parenthood doctors and staff performed the actual killings.

But wait. . .to tell it like it is, you and I were responsible, at least in part.  We have not sufficiently mourned over the killing of infants this close to our homes.

There’s a parallel recorded in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel in in the Bible.  The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city. . . and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” (Ezekiel 9:4)  It turns out  those who grieved over the terrible acts of that day were marked with the sign of a tau, a Hebrew letter written like a cross at that time.  Those who got the mark were spared from death; the others not.

Killing of innocent children is our present day abomination.

We, “good people” all, were accessories to these murders because we have not mourned sufficiently.  We have also voted for such men as Dave Loebsack, Bruce Braley, and US Senator Tom Harkin.  Loebsack represents Iowa’s Second District and Bruce Braley, Iowa’s First District. These elected officials repeatedly use their legislative powers to promote the culture of death in our state and in our nation.  They justify murder by hiding behind the “reproductive ‘rights’ of women.”  We, the “good citizens” of America, have also elected a president who is so callous that he voted to withhold life-saving nutrition from children who survived botched abortions.

A Spirit-filled person stands for life!  The Bible says, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (Acts 1:8)  The power of God’s love is growing in the nation.  Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans now oppose tax-funded abortion.  We are winning, but the battle rages.  The Spirit-filled life evinces grief over sin and love toward the enemies of life.  The Spirit energizes those He fills to stand for life, lobby for life, and produce life in our own marriages and families.

There’s blood on our doorstep. But thank God, the Spirit is moving in our land.  How long the blood stains remain depends in part on you and me.

Local Churches Global Apostles Latest News

Local Churches Global Apostles Book

September 3 stands as the official launch date for my book Local Churches Global Apostles: How Churches in the New Testament Era Related to Apostles and Why It Matters Now.

Why September 3? There’s nothing scientific about the choice. I just want something far enough away to prepare for the launch without a lot of pressure.

Actually, the book is already published and for sale on both Amazon and Createspace. Kindle edition may also be available by the time you read this. So the bo0k is ready now, but it’s in the pre-launch stage. The launch should be an event, and that takes some time to develop. I want to develop our blog more fully and build a greater readership. I want to develop some more relationships with other authors and bloggers. All this takes time and I have a lot to learn. In fact, everything I do about writing, publishing, editing, formatting, etc. requires that I learn something new!

You might say I’m learning a lot and you are right. When I started my first website I didn’t even know how to paste. My daughter, about 10 or 12 at the time, had to teach  me how to copy and paste! Everything I do has a strong learning curve, but now the book is published–praise God!–and I’m moving on to the promotion stage.

Want to help me by promoting the book? (I’m learning how to market as well.)

Here are some of the needs. Someone to arrange interviews. Someone to write and circulate press releases. Someone to help with social media. Do you work with Google Hangouts? Contact me, and I’ll put you to work! Oh, there’s much more, but these are starters.

Some good news. The pre-launch reviews are coming in and they are spectacular. Try these on for size.

In an age where true apostolic fathers are being restored to the church, Mark Anderson hits the nail on the head. Mark’s work is historical, theological and very pastoral. A must read in this hour.

—Mike Giordano, apostle and church planter

Mark Anderson has done efficient work in detailing not only the role of the apostle as evidenced in the early churches but of the characteristics of this early body of believers. He delineates the governing structure of the New Testament church and its application to our 21st century church. Pastors and lay people alike will benefit from this enjoyable, straightforward, fact-filled book.

—Minnesota Senator Dan and Valerie Hall

It’s fun to write a book and also a lot of work. What’s most rewarding is to see how the message of the book is already liberating pastors and church leaders.

What’s the Best-Selling Book in Norway?

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OSLO, Norway (AP) — It may sound like an unlikely No. 1 best-seller for any country, but in Norway — one of the most secular nations in an increasingly godless Europe — the runaway popularity of the Bible has caught the country by surprise. The Scriptures, in a new Norwegian language version, even outpaced “Fifty Shades of Grey” to become Norway’s best-selling book.

The sudden burst of interest in God’s word has also spread to the stage, with a six-hour play called “Bibelen,” Norwegian for “the Bible,” drawing 16,000 people in a three-month run that recently ended at one of Oslo’s most prominent theaters.

Officials of the Lutheran Church of Norway have stopped short of calling it a spiritual awakening, but they see the newfound interest in the Bible as proof that it still resonates in a country where only 1 percent of the 5 million residents regularly attends church.

From the Associated Press, Yahoo edition, June 6,2013

Is the spiritual hunger of Norwegians–as shown by their thirst for the Bible– surprising to anyone?

It shouldn’t be. Whenever culture or government excludes religion, people’s thirst invariably rises. Russia experienced a revival after the communist regime failed in the late 1980’s. China is currently undergoing rapid expansion of Christianity due to government persecution of Christians.

Norway’s cultural secularism serves as an invitation for the gospel. God created man with an “empty space” in his spirit that can only be filled with Jesus Christ. Ignoring this “hole” in man’s heart invariably results in revival, a renewed quest for something spiritual.

My wife and I have traveled and ministered in the Norway, a nation of dramatic beauty. It appears there is a growing hunger for God in the hearts of many. Will the church seize the opportunity to proclaim the gospel with clarity?

What is the gospel? Paul clearly expresses the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6: The gospel is the good news that “Jesus Christ died for our sins, and was buried . . .  He rose again the third day and was seen by Peter, and James, and by over 500 others at the same time. ”

The challenge now is for Norwegian evangelists to rise up and offer the living Christ, the only One who can fill the void.  Church of Norway, rise to your destiny!

 

 

The Boy Scouts of America and God’s Apostles

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On May 23, 2013, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow openly homosexual boys into its ranks. For generations the BSA has upheld Biblical standards of conduct for young men. The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.”

The BSA Mission Statement no longer holds validity. Chuck Missler writes on Koinonia House News:

The BSA is teaching our kids that when your values become unpopular, just change them.

The BSA is teaching our kids that when your convictions are challenged, just cave to peer pressure.

The BSA is teaching our kids that public opinion polls are more important than principles.

Today, the BSA is teaching our kids that you should not stand up for what is right instead you should stand up for what is popular.

Enter Churches and Apostles

The church is the pillar and support of truth in society. The church is “built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). It appears that every section of society has caved in to the homosexual agenda. The church in general has stood firm, even though some churches and ministers have compromised.

Now is the time for modern day apostles to rise and influence churches and church members to stand for Biblical morality. Apostles are called and supernaturally gifted by God to establish foundations. “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)?”

Apostles, rise up! Let your voices be heard! The church needs you as never before.

 

 

What Were the Churches of the New Testament Really Like?

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How Does this Dish Resemble New Testament Churches?

The “New Testament Church” is often idealized—and rightly so.  We admire their power and evangelistic zeal.  They were the persecuted few who, against all odds “turned the world upside down.” From the seminal New Testament Church, the whole of the Western World was evangelized within 300 years.  All this without radio, television, newspapers, printing press, internet or other forms of mass media.

Most churches started small.  (Jerusalem was the exception.)  It’s hard to guess the size of the earliest churches.  The writer J. Murphy O’Connor proposes the church in Corinth numbered about 50 people. That estimate takes into account Paul’s words in Romans 16:23:  “Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you.”  Early Christians had no church buildings; homes were the normal meeting place. One or more small house churches comprised “the church” in any given city.

A careful reading of the record portrays an entity much like a bubbling pot of stew—tasty and life-giving, yet all mixed up. Sometimes a pot of stew is called a “mess.” That term could be applied to many of the churches in the New Testament, not just the believers in Corinth!

“Every new birth is messy.”  As a home birth father who has cut and tied the cord for four of our own children, I heartily agree.  After all, little babies don’t enter the world all dried off and sporting bows or ribbons in their hair!  It’s good to have plenty of towels, wipes, and helpers on hand.  What’s true for human births was also true for the birth of the church in city after city.

At the same time, a careful reading of the record portrays an entity much like a bubbling pot of stew—tasty and life-giving, yet all-mixed-up.  Sometimes a pot of stew is called a “mess.” That term could be applied to many of the churches in the New Testament, not just the believers in Corinth!

Imagine if you will the situation in Thessalonica.  Here was a multi-racial, multi-lingual group of fresh converts composed of traditional Jews and pagans.  The pagans were just now giving up their idols and had no concept whatever of monotheism.  The Jews, on the other hand, hated idols and held themselves above any images of God.  Nonetheless, these Jews were sporting amulets, wearing prayer shawls with fringed corners and knotted tassels at each corner, and reciting the Torah.  Synagogue Jews were prohibited from even eating with Gentiles!  A greater cultural divide is hard to imagine.

Paul’s preaching created a synagogue split and a mob riot in town.  The accusation went out that the new Christians were subversive and treasonous, even traitors to the Caesar.  Further, there was no established leadership for the new converts.  They had only a few weeks of teaching and no common theology or background.  All were newly-born babes in Christ.  The fact they got along at all is nothing short of miraculous!

After Paul was hustled out of town by night, the new church was left on its own.  No wonder all sorts of questions arose regarding sexual morality, Christ’s return and gifts of the Holy Spirit!  Yet Timothy returned to Thessalonica briefly and noted a young and flourishing church!  How could this be?

Amazing as it is to the modern observer, the church in Thessalonica was experiencing the grace of God.  The church as a whole began to experience what Jesus said would happen.  “I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you.  I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, that is the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16, 18).  Thessalonica received a couple of follow-up letters (First and Second Thessalonians containing apostolic admonitions and commands) but no more visits from an apostle for six years!

Problems abounded in the churches of the time.  The Galatian churches slipped into legalism soon after conversion.  The Ephesian churches effectively evangelized an entire region, yet lost their first love.  The church at Thyatira was known for her love, faith, service and perseverance, yet tolerated a woman with a Jezebel spirit.  The church in Sardis went to sleep and became a “dead” church.  The gospel bore fruit and increased in Colossae, yet the church in that city was troubled by a host of problems including asceticism, angel worship, and Gnosticism. The list could go on.

With all of their syncretism, movements, fads, teachings, leaders, strengths, weaknesses, and swirls of emphasis, the various churches of the first hundred years of Christianity were much like churches today—a sweet-smelling potpourri that God destined to change the world.