Monday, December 31, 2012

God is here! And we got problems!

Ever figured that if God was right there with you, everything would be fine.  No problems.  No worries.  Smooth sailing. 

You may have figured wrong. 

There are few stories in the Old Testament as captivating as Joseph’s.  At one point in the account his angry, jealous brothers sell him to some Ishmaelites, then to one of Pharoah’s officials.  Then, in what might be considered a nice turn of events Chapter 39 talks about how “The Lord was with Joseph”  - he prospers, enjoys great success is well-liked and gains much trust. 

Then gets thrown in prison. 

And while in prison, the writer says “the Lord was with him.”  In fact, the phrase is reiterated two sentences later “the Lord was with Joseph.”  But, alas, he is still in prison.  Some time later he gets a big break – someone he had helped had opportunity to help spring him from captivity – but, as the Lord is with Joseph, the man who stood to help free him “did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”

The Lord is with Joseph, and Joseph is stuck.  Stuck in prison.  Stuck in unfair circumstances.  Stuck without a foreseeable way out. 

So, the story seems to want us to hear, it is possible for you to have a great relationship with the Lord and…have awful things in life happening to you.  And a large part of your discipleship in Jesus is apparently learning just that.

 - Stephen had the presence of the Lord, and got stoned.

- Paul had the presence of the Lord, and, well…where to begin?

“…troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger.  (2 Cor. 6:4-5)

-  The disciples had the presence of the Lord, and tradition suggests that Matthew was slain by a sword, Peter crucified, one James beheaded and the other beaten to death, Philip was hung, Bartholomew flayed alive, Andrew was fastened to a cross, Thomas speared, Thaddeus and Simon crucified, Matthias beheaded and John exiled after he was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. 

Jesus WAS the Lord, and was ruthlessly killed. 

This presence of the Lord stuff – apparently it’s not easy.  But, Joseph rescued starving nations, Stephen confounded his enemies and preached the Word, Paul launched out on three great missionary journeys, the disciples started a movement that reached you and me and Jesus – well, Jesus saved us. 

Not easy.  But good. 

“Lord, this may be the boldest prayer I have ever prayed… I want your presence.  Amen.”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Football, politics, fishing, porn

Ever wanted something so bad your whole life groaned for it?  A passion so strong that your yearning swallowed whole your very existence?

I have – an athletic achievement, a woman, a form of recreation, some accomplishment, a hobby.  We all have.  To have ardent passion for someone or something is built into our spiritual DNA. 

The first of the Psalms is what scholars call the “gateway.”  This single chapter of the Bible is thought by some to have been especially written to introduce all the rest of the Psalms.  It sets down basic options in life for the singers and readers of this precious poetry.  Those options between the righteous and the wicked are particularized across the rest of the 149 chapters of the Psalter, of the balance of Wisdom Literature in Scripture and, indeed, it could be argued, of all the Bible.  The first lines…

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 
But His delight is in the Law of the Lord… (Psalm 1:1-2)

Delight is a great word.  It crops up well over 100x in the Bible with the greatest concentration in the Psalms (esp. 119).  In the Hebrew (Heb. chephets/guttural - HAY-fets) it means to take pleasure in, long for.  Our English word is rooted historically in the Old French with a frequent sexual connotation attached.  Probably shouldn’t be surprised that “delight” comes up about five times in the highly erotic Song of Songs. 

A counselor told a friend of mine recently a simple yet memorable truth:  “Whatever you feed, grows.”   My friend was warned not to feed wrongful attitudes or wayward desires but to feed on the good and pure and the holy which, of course, would  grow into a relationship with The Good, The Pure and The Holy. 

This feeding is a choice that frequently grows into an affection, even an addiction. 

Obsessions…football, politics, fishing, pursuit of materialism, porn….these are all things that can grow in our lives as they absorb more time, more thought, more money.  We choose whether or not to give things like these an inordinate amount of our attention and emotional energy.

Or, the Lord seems to indicate, you can develop a passion for the Bible, God and the things that grow out of His Word and obedience to it. 

Choose any one of these competitors for your attention (or a multitude of other options) and pretty soon it affects your reading and viewing material, the group your root for, what you think about when your mind wanders and the way you spend your money or your day.  It impacts everything. 

Delight, obsession, passion can be chosen for good, for the trivial, or for outright evil. 

A moment ago we mentioned our spiritual DNA.  If “passion” is woven into our DNA then we must also recognize that the capacity to direct that passion is also part of our makeup.  We can choose the law of the Lord.  Or not.  God has built that option into every corpuscle of our bodies. 

“Father, grant me grace to delight in your Word today and the things it instructs me to do – mostly, the love of You, my neighbor and even of my enemy.  And then help these passions to grow.”

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas, and Cultural Rescue

 In one of the most famous biblical stories Moses stands in front of a burning bush as God tells the next unlikely hero of the pages of holy writ how the next forty or so years of his life will turn out. 

Let’s reduce this God speech of Exodus 3 down to six phrases:
  • I have indeed seen the misery (3:7). God apparently has eyes.  He has used them.
  • I have heard them crying (3:7). God apparently has ears, too.  He hears the anguish.
  • I am concerned (3:7). God feels.  The suffering of His people hurts.
  • I have come down to rescue (3:8). The Egyptians cannot handle what is about to happen to them.  But as we soon see in the narrative, the gods of the pagans are no match for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

This is enough to get a guy excited.  God to the rescue!  Talk about encouraging, exciting, invigorating.  Moses might have been on tiptoes at this moment. 
But then Yahweh has an interesting twist to the plan that gets his man flat-footed again:
  • I am sending you (3:10).  Moses struggles with this part of the plan.  Who, me?  Why me?  But it is God’s way.  He works through people who are faulty, scared and who not infrequently suffer from low self-esteem.  It’s his M.O.  
  • I will be with you (3:12).  It will happen because He wants it to happen.  Any questions? “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

You know the story.  The Israelites plunder the Egyptians and start their unlikely journey to their Promised Land.  This happens continually with various twists.  Think in terms of the Christmas story…
  • “I have seen” – God looks and wants to redeem His people.
  • “I have heard them crying.”  God knows Israel yearns for a Messiah and has been groaning for one for hundreds of years.
  • “I am concerned.”  Rome occupies.  The Lord sees the people languishing.  
  • “I have come down to rescue.”  Jesus invades. The Second Person of the Triune God arrives…in the flesh and with healing in His wings. 
  • “I am sending you.”  To the astonishment of His closest followers Jesus dies but rises from the dead, gathers His disciples and says:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…baptizing…teaching….”
  • “I will be with you.”  Jesus continues:  “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Confidence comes to His change agents through His grace, the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ.   

Want to restore your culture to the Judeo-Christian ethic?  Want to do His bidding?  Want to deliver a people from a pitiful situation?  There is a Judeo-Christian way.  It involves eyes, ears, emotion, travel, sending and presence.  It works. 

“Lord, there are always new-fangled methods.  But for every new idea there are old ideas that seem to keep on working.  Help me never forget the older possibilities when considering the method of the month.  Amen.”

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Journal: A spiritual secret (gain some weight!)

Got on the scales last night.  I was feeling heavy.  It was worse than a mere feeling, however, I WAS heavy.  Way over weight.  Perhaps I should have counted my blessings. 

Spiritually, we could stand to add a few pounds.  And maybe more than a few.  David writes about this in Psalm 39.  “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end…”  And here come the ‘light-weight’ terminologies:
  • Fleeting
  • Mere handbreadth
  • Nothing
  • Breath
  • Phantom
  •  Vain

In fact, that word hebel is the same word announced in Ecclesiastes of Solomon’s pitiful life (“Meaningless (hebel), meaningless, (hebel) utterly meaningless (hebel)!  Everything is meaningless (hebel).  Vanity, empty, phantom...Solomon needs some weight gain!

Reminded me of Paul’s writings to the churches in Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica, and Philippi when he tells them to, for instance, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  (Philippians 1:27)  The word there is axios – which means “same weight as” – the word picture is those scales with a bunch of weight on one side and my hebel life on the other.    

Live a life worthy?  How do you do that?  Here’s Paul - the weight of my life should be comparable to the calling I have received (Ephesians) or the gospel of Christ (Philippians) or the Lord Himself (Colossians) or of God, the kingdom of God, your calling (Thessalonians). 

That is a lot of weight!

How to pack on that much heft?  Here’s the good news.  The word “glory” in the Old Testament has a root (kabod) that means “heavy.”  In other words, the glory of God makes “same weight as/in a matter worthy” possible.  We CAN tip the spiritual scales, with His glory in us!

E. Stanley Jones talks about being “gloriously converted” in Baltimore.  Gloriously converted…is there any other way to be saved?

“Lord, make me heavy today.  Heavy with your glory.  Amen.”

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Your theological world view? Here's mine...

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan.

You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition.  You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavily by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan



Neo orthodox

Reformed Evangelical


Classical Liberal

Roman Catholic

Modern Liberal


What is your theological worldview?

Throwing Your Children into the Fire

            The Hebrew word for profane is chalal (kha LAL) and it means basically what you would think it means – vulgar, defiled, polluted, dishonored.  But there is another meaning – “common.” 

To profane the name of the Lord is to make His name like all the other gods – of no noble character, wooed by superstition, manipulated with magic.  And, actually, it seems to be what usually happens in the Old Testament.

Leviticus flat lays down some tough law concerning a god named Molech:

The Lord said to Moses,  “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him.  I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people; for by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.  If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech and they fail to put him to death, I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech.  (Leviticus 20:1-5)

Wouldn’t happen to you, me or us?  Well, it apparently happened to what might arguably be the smartest guy of his day, or any day.  1 Kings 11 is one of the most pitiful chapters in the Bible for it tells of what the wealthiest, most blessed, most discerning man by the touch of God became.  In the fourth chapter of 1 Kings it is reported that Solomon received from God wisdom and insight and understanding – comparatively well beyond any peer.  He spoke 3,000 proverbs and wrote over a thousand songs.  People from far and wide came to hear the king’s wisdom.  My bet is that he had Leviticus and surrounding books memorized. 

But seven chapters later in the story this is what is penned concerning him:

He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.  On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.  (1 Kings 11:5-7)

Profane!  And yet do we make God’s name common when those of us who go by the designation “Christian” spend more time and attention on our college football team than we do His causes or His Body?  Or when we spend our money almost precisely the way our unchurched friends spend theirs?  Or when our favorite Christian chants go something like this:  “The only difference between sinner and saint is one is forgiven and the other ain’t.” 

The ONLY difference?  Ouch. 

Did we mention anything yet about this Molech?  Most scholars say that the cult of this god sacrificed children by throwing them into a fire to guarantee his favor.  Some other researchers have suggested that no, it was something else - that children were given up by their parents to grow up and be trained as temple prostitutes. 

Wisest man in the world?  He died common but spared being put to death, stoned, cut off from his people.  But if God ever showed him on the other side of his passing the legacy left via a prostituting people that would have been pain enough.  Talk about throwing your kids into the fire…

“Holy Spirit, there is a fire I want my family to know.  YOUR fire.  The fire of the Spirit.  They will not be the wisest people of their generation, in all likelihood, but let them KNOW You and love You with ALL their hearts, souls, minds and strength.  Amen.”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Journal: After Sexual Sin, Mr. Christian – What do you Really Desire?

There is a growing multitude of Christians today who, in no small measure because of the increasing role of easy access technology in our lives, have grown victim to sexual sin.

Serious laymen, pastors, members of the episcopacy…all are vulnerable in a world where we, comfortably ensconced in our dens and offices, can quietly and ch
eaply open up the vile but enticing world of internet pornography to the delight of our eyes.

And this too often leads to other things, as well.

But sexual temptation, and the actual transgression, are hardly new. Neither is the cry from our hearts that prevents a woeful scenario.

King David saw a woman he wanted, called her to his bed and set in motion a whir of sin and cover-up that led to murder, a baby’s death, a crippled reign and, ultimately, to a nation divided.

In the middle of his repentance David sang something that we shouldn’t forget. Psalm 51… a song in four movements.

One – blot out, wash away, cleanse, wash, blot out…my sin. (51:1-9).

Two – create in me, renew, restore, grant me…that which will make a holy difference. (51:10-12)

Three – then I will teach, sing, declare…You and Your ways. (51:13-15)

Four – then I will worship with…a broken spirit, a contrite heart, with righteous sacrifices as we build up the walls of Jerusalem. (51:16-19)

But it is a small phrase in the middle of Movement Two that is most interesting to me. “Do not cast me from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from me.”

David had witnessed what happens when God takes away His Spirit.

Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul,
and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. (I Sam. 16:14)

From that point, Saul loses it…his composure, his sanity, his nation, his life. And David saw it all first hand. And so he exclaims…

“Oh, God! DO NOT TAKE your Holy Spirit from me. For I have seen what happens when that Spirit leaves a man. Restore to me the joy of your salvation!”

What did David really desire after his sin? The Spirit that stays. A very nice desire.

“Lord, that last ‘Oh, God!’ prayer is my prayer too. Spirit, stay. Amen.”

Journal: The Greatest Test of Your Sanctification

Typically, I read the “8” Psalms on dates that end in eight (today, the 28th).  So today I read and prayed through Psalms 8,18,28,38,48 etc.  Except today, in the early hour, I got off track and read 59 instead of 58.  When this happens, I assume the Lord WANTED it to happen.

This might be why:  59:9-10a 

“O my Strength I watch for you;
you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.”

David writes this Psalm, so it is thought, from the vantage point of a night escape from the upper window of his house (1 Sam. 19:11ff).   “Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and kill him in the morning.”

When David is in distress, talk with God frequently gets VERY personal…my Strength…my fortress…my loving God.  But woven in this intimate conversation is an important phrase – I watch (shamar) for you.  It could be alternatively translated “cling to” or “search expectantly for.” 

Get this now – Saul sent men to watch (shamar – same word as David used) and kill.  So – it matters what you are “clinging to” and “searching expectantly for.”  Got priorities straight this morning?

I love the Christmas story this way:  
  • Herod kill. 
  • Mary watched...but didn't apparently get it fully - she wondered, pondered. 
  • Simeon watched...and then said "Let me die."
  • Anna watched...then wanted to go tell.  "She spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel."
As an evangelism professor, I have learned to love Anna in this story. 


My friend Bill Ury says that the greatest test of your sanctification is your next conversation…your next encounter.  I like that.  Watch for Him in that encounter. 

“Lord, sometime today (and maybe many times) I will need an extra dose of Your strength (power) and Your fortress (protection) and Your love (affection).  By Your grace, help me to intently watch for You in those times…to cling to You…to expect You…to search for you – even as, perchance, I am climbing out of my window to escape the enemies that surround.” 

Journal: Fretting? Stop it!

The Lord today in morning devotions: " not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land." (Ps. 37:7-8)

Lesson - stop fretting.

Fret = "to be peevish, or to feel/express worry, annoyance, discontent..." It comes from the

  • Old English "to eat, devour" which, one imagines, is what fretting will do to your soul if you don't stop. 
  • In Middle English, "fret" was used of monsters and Vikings. 
  • Heb. charah - to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be kindled. 

"Lord, help me to stop fretting, lest my soul be devoured. I put my trust in you. Therefore, I am at peace. Amen."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ministry Spotlight - James Lansberry

James Lansberry is the Executive Vice President of Samaritan Ministries International, and the Project Director for SMI's The Morning Center. He joined The Matt Friedeman Show to talk about his ministry to mothers in crisis. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of his interview.

What is The Morning Center about?
The Morning Center is a project to provide free maternal care to underprivileged urban areas. We want to be there to give women not just the best care they can get, but also the gospel of Christ.
Why are women open to accepting Christ in this position?
I think it's because they're in a vulnerable position. Part of our mandate as the Church is to take care of the poor.

We want to take care of them both body and soul. That's what the original faith-centered hospital movement was about, and I think we've gotten away from that.
How do you find these women?
We partner with local Crisis Pregnancy Centers and churches. Most of our referrals are word of mouth.

We do our very best to find these women by collaborating with other Christian ministries in the neighborhood.
Walk us through the process that a woman experiences.
The first thing we want to do is rejoice with her. As she goes through the pregnancy, she's going to get all the prenatal care right there in her own neighborhood.

We want to make sure we have mobile care units so she is able to receive aid without having to get on a bus. Most women in underprivileged areas won't be able to travel to get prenatal care.
We will provide first-class care in a hospital for the delivery. Hopefully, by that time she's become a Christian, and we will provide mentors as she begins to raise her child.

We're meeting with urban churches to make sure we have partners there, so women can have a church.
What drives women to abortion?
The primary reasons given are either that they can't afford a child, or that it's a bad time in their life.

The two groups that tend toward abortion are professional women and women who don't have the means to raise a child.

We will be focusing on helping the second group, trying to provide first-class medical care, adoption services if they can't raise the child, trying to give them the best quality of care that we can.

We look at this as a mission field right in our backyard.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Brain Trust - Jeanne Monahan

Jeanne Monahan is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. She joined The Matt Friedeman Show to discuss the upcoming March For Life. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of her interview.

Tell us about the March For Life. What is it?
On January 23, we've got the March For Life in Washington, D.C. It commemorates the sad decision made in Roe v. Wade.
There are events leading up to the actual march as well. And you can also get involved remotely.
How important are these kinds of events?
Quite important. I'm thinking back right now to Poland during the Communist years.
Millions of people came out to praise God together, and that was the beginning of the end of communism.

We aren't protesting communism here today; we're protesting the devaluation of human life.
How healthy is the pro-life movement?
We're seeing that more and more people in the U.S. are becoming pro-life.

We've also got technology on our side. We don't have to do manipulation of the truth; we just have to present the information and any sane person will agree that pro-life is a good position.

It's hard to ever say we're doing great when abortion is legal, but I'm excited.
What are your predictions for 2012 in regards to the pro-life movement?
You said earlier that we want to protect women and protect their babies. I think the truth that abortion is bad for women as well as their babies will become more prevalent.

I suspect that bills dealing with informed consent will be a major driver in the legislature. My general sense is that these issues and laws will really continue to pervade. I certainly hope so.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Interview - Virgil Amundson, AwakenUS

Virgil Amundson serves as the pastor of Shell Lake Full Gospel Church. He joined The Matt Friedeman Show to discuss the conclusion of the AwakenUS movement. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of his interview.

What has AwakenUS done for your church?
We have really enjoyed the opportunity to call the people in the church in to a period of prayer and fasting. The movement has snowballed.

As we've continued to promote this every week, the thrust has begun to increase. Today, most of our people are on-board and committed.
Do you plan on keeping an emphasis on fasting?
Personally, I had gotten away from a consecrated time of fasting. We eat a lot in America, and we eat often. For me personally, fasting was a discipline I really needed to get back to.

Now that we've disciplined ourselves, and gotten into seeking the face of God, I think we're going to continue to build momentum.
What do you say to people who feel like their fasting didn't "work"?
Sometimes, fasting is a really dry time. Oftentimes it's not until we conclude our fast that we begin to see changes come.

People may find their fasting to be the driest times in their life. But when Jesus fasted, he was in the wilderness.
What stands between America and revival?
That question was asked to the pastor of the church in Cairo, Egypt that started all this. His answer was three things: Humility, Unity, and Intercession.

He said America had to humble themselves and fall on their knees before God. These are desperate times. We must all together seek the face of God.
Why is humility hard for us in America?
It's extremely difficult for us to bow down before God. Fasting is a breaking of our pride, it's a breaking of ourselves. There is a real humbling in the fasting itself. Humility comes with fasting.
Will this fast continue beyond today?
I think that initially, it was meant to conclude today. But there is a spirit of renewal that I sense even in our local church here. It's up to local pastors and leaders to hold this into place.

These are desperate times that aren't going to change tomorrow just because we fasted for the last forty days. We have to continue to call on the Lord to bring revival to America.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ministry Spotlight - Willie Jordan

Willie Jordan is the President of Fred Jordan Missions, a ministry in inner Los Angeles. She joined The Matt Friedeman Show's Ministry Spotlight. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of her interview.

Who is Fred Jordan?
The man who founded the mission. I was honored to be his wife.

The Lord took Fred to heaven nearly 24 years ago, but he left me and my children a wonderful staff, and we have ministered to people on the streets of Los Angeles.

First, we give them the Bread of Life, and then we give them physical bread.
 Do you see lasting change in the people you minister to?
That's why we're here. The fact that we can see them and give them physical aid is good, but we are here to preach the gospel.

We don't see as many as we would like to see, but we're there to share the central message that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. So Fred Jordan Missions just shares Jesus.
What makes poor people poor?
Poor choices. That's the bottom line. People get into financial difficulties, many of them are alcoholics, and in the last 25 years, drugs. 
The biggest drug has been crack cocaine. Men and women will do anything to get that white rock. And once you get hooked on drugs, nothing is important. 
If you had a job, you lose it. If you had a wife and children, you walk away.

And then, in LA, we have so many immigrants who come in. They speak no English; they can't get jobs, or if they do, they're at the very bottom of the income level.

With some people, poverty causes crime. But on our streets, crime causes poverty. Jesus is the only way out.
How do you keep the transformation?
Well, they come to Jesus. We have follow-up and discipleship. I like to tell my guests that I would like to see them gone, away from the streets and temptations and addictions.

So when they come to Christ, we try to get them away from the streets, into churches.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ministry Spotlight - Miriam Neff

Miriam Neff is the Founder and President of Widow Connection, a ministry that serves widows all over the world. She joined The Matt Friedeman Show to discuss her ministry. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of her interview.

What are you trying to do?
First of all, no one wants to start a widow ministry. 
I was married for 40 years to Bob Neff. He succumbed to Lou Gehrig's disease. 
When I was dealing with that, I couldn't find anything to help me.

I could clearly see from my faith walk that I was supposed to help widows. So now, 24/7 widows can go to my website and get help.

Then I began to look around and ask where the widows where who needed help. I had traveled to Africa with Bob, and seen the poverty there.

So what we do is we help the widows there, we teach them to sew, and they graduate with a certificate to be a tailor. They can hold their heads high again.
You have seven tips for helping widows. Tell us about that.
One of the important things is to stay connected. It seems so simple. But often a widow will kind of disappear from the picture. 
And I understand, because I am one, that you kind of want to fade away.

But as a friend of a widow, you have to realize that she's not going to pick up the phone and call you.
You have to take the initiative. That's a simple thing that anyone can do.
Is there a drop in finances when you are widowed?
Widows often end up in a much worse financial situation than they had when they were married. 
The income goes down with the loss of the husband. The need goes down some, but not as much as the income.
Is the local church doing enough to help?
In my situation when I became a widow, I could not find any ministry to widows in any church.
I had friends, but many of them did not understand what I was going through, which is normal.

I do think we're seeing an increase in churches waking up to what they need to be doing.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dr. K.P. Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

Dr. K.P. Yohannan, President and Founder of Gospel for Asia, joined The Matt Friedeman Show to talk about the spread of Christ in India and how you can help.

What is the most significant thing happening with Gospel for Asia?
In the Indian subcontinent, 1/3 of the country — nearly 300 million people — are known as the untouchables, or the Dalit.

What is happening right now is that significant numbers of the Dalit are accepting Christ.

There is a whole new world with Muslims opening their hearts to the Lord. Especially the children; some 60,000 children are being reached. I am very excited.
Why is this happening now?
It's like in the book of Exodus, they lived in such slavery for such a long time, and finally God heard their prayer.

These people lived in these conditions for some 3000 years, and finally there is hope for them.

Now they realize that the only way out of slavery is to change their faith. Jesus offers hope and a new beginning. It is nothing short of a miracle for these people right now.
Tell us about Gospel for Asia's "Critter Campaign".
This is one of our high points of the year during the Christmas season. We identify people living in horrible poverty, with absolutely no hope.

We give them buffalo or cows or a sewing machine. When we give these things to them, it gives them incredible hope. They are able to find hope in Christ after we minister to them like this.
What does something like that do for a family?
I was just hearing a story from one of the remote areas of Nepal the other day.

It was this man and his wife and five children, and just looking at them you could tell they are broken. The whole family was so shocked that someone would bring them these things; they cried and cried and cried.

They said, "Don't leave us; tell us more about the Jesus who brought you here." They were so surprised when they learned that Jesus was not a politician; he was God. It was a beautiful thing.
What about clean water?
There are literally thousands of villages where people die from sickness just because they didn't have clean water.

When you dig these wells, it's not just one family that is helped; through one family, many families around them get clean water.
To help save a family in India, visit Gospel for Asia's website and click on the "Christmas Catalog".

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ministry Spotlight - Don Shenk

Don Shenk, joining the Ministry Spotlight, serves as director of The Tide, a radio ministry that broadcasts in India, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Nepal, and Romania. He came on The Matt Friedeman Show to talk about The Tide's outreach in other nations. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of his interview.

What is The Tide about?
Basically, we're trying to share Jesus Christ and bring people into a relationship with him.

Our mission statement is "Creatively sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ worldwide through media and partnerships."
What is the power of radio overseas?
Here we have so many different mediums of media, but in other places people rely very strongly on the radio.

There's an element of authenticity to what they hear on air. That can be dangerous, if there is false teaching, but it gives us authority in their eyes when we preach the gospel.

The Tide doesn't own any broadcasting services, so we purchase air time from other broadcasters. We use indigenous speakers, not a translated program from over here in America.

We broadcast in the heart languages of the countries. It becomes culturally relevant to the people who hear it.
What is a heart language?
When we talk about a heart language, it is the language that they were born to speak, that they grew up speaking. 
The importance of that in radio is that they can identify with Christ as a God who knows them, rather than a foreign God

We are doing in Zimbabwe, the Tide has a daily program. So we have some programs there that target youth, others that are specifically for men.
We deal with issues that they are facing every day. In Zimbabwe, that is family.

There are many single-parent families, because a spouse often has to go into another country to earn a living. The Tide is focusing on how to help these families that are broken.

One of the things as a ministry, The Tide doesn't want to be guilty of sending out a ministry on the air and then just leaving the listeners hanging. 
We provide literature; we have Bible correspondence programs that they can enroll in.

When we have an area where we have received responses from many listeners, we will hold a Seekers Conference about what it means to accept Christ.
What is the area you are most excited about?
That's a hard one to answer. I would have to say right now I'm most excited about Bhutan.

We had a ministry there, and we had to withdraw. But another door opened, and by March we will be going back in and broadcasting.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Brain Trust - David Murrow

David Murrow, speaker and bestselling author, joined the Brain Trust to discuss the problem of men leaving the church, as expressed in his book Why Men Hate Going To Church. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of his interview.

What is the disconnect with men and the church?
It's not that men don't like God or Christ, what they don't like is churchgoing. Getting up out of bed, singing the songs, hearing the sermon; it doesn't click with them.

Part of the reputation of the church among men is that it's a place for "women, weirdos, and wimps."

I think that comes out of the last hundred years, with the emphasis on Christians not smoking, drinking, playing cards; there's just been this extreme seriousness.
Does it depend largely on the pastor?
You're absolutely right. I say that 80% of the battle is the pastor.  
Women see their church as their fellow churchgoers. If they're in harmony with their fellow churchgoers, they're in harmony with their church.

But men tend to see the church through the lens of the pastor; if they don't like the pastor, they won't like the church.
Should churches focus on using men's gifts and talents?
That is so true. And I think one of the reasons that Southern Baptist churches are so prevalent in the South is that they have extensive relief networks.

It's a wonderful witness, and a great way to utilize men's talents.

When Jesus went out and started the Church, he created a core of 12 committed men.
Should we be following Jesus' example in teaching through activity?
That's definitely true. The Lord's discipleship method was not classroom teaching. I don't want to speak out against Bible studies, because those have been helpful in the lives of a lot of men.

But a highly verbal discipleship method tends to elevate the teacher. And while there's nothing wrong with that, it limits the men who decide they can't really help in the church since they can't speak and they didn't go to seminary.
Why do you say that prayer meetings aren't geared towards men?
There's a lot of things about the way we do group prayer today that makes it tough on men. Because the way we pray in groups is we make speeches to God.

It's generally easier for women, since women are more verbal than men. I have about ten or twelve pages in the book about how we can make prayer more real and inviting to men.
Do we have a misconception of Jesus that contributes to this problem?
We do. We tend to focus on the Lamb of God rather than the Lion of Judah.

We look at the incident of overturning the tables in the temple as an anomaly. We view the rest of his life as meek and gentle, always surrounded by children.

There are pictures of Jesus as a fighter in Scripture, and we need to focus on them.
You talk about fears that men have about church. Talk to us about "losing control."
In a lot of churches, there's a tendency to say, "Let's just give the Holy Spirit as much time as he needs."

There's no expectation for how long the sermon will go. The guy has no expectation, no idea of how long this will take. Men want to be in control.
Do men worry about having their wives fall too far in love with the church?
A lot of women do fall very hard for Jesus. I married a preacher's daughter, and she thought it was normal to spend six nights a week at the church.

She was in love with Jesus and in love with the church, to the point where she neglected the family.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview - Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, came on The Matt Friedeman Show to talk about his father's newest book, Nearing Home. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of his interview.

Is your father pleased with his legacy?
Of course, I would say yes. He loves his family.

At this stage in life, he takes time with the family; there's family coming to the home almost every day. He's still the head of the family.
What has been his least favorite thing about growing older?

Just not being able to do as much.

One of the unfortunate things is that he's lost the ability to read. Even in doing this book, he had to verbalize it so people could take it down. It was a little bit harder for him to do this.

But his mind is sharp.
What about the best thing?
I think he's got more time to reflect and more time to pray. This is one of the benefits of losing some of your strength; he's able to focus more than when he was fully capable.

He spends some time every day praying for family and friends. He prays for the nation. He's very concerned with the direction our nation is going in the last few years.
There's a chapter in this book called "Don't retire from life". What is that about?
There are a lot of people who just quit. They quit life. They retire and they don't do anything. He wants to encourage people to stay active.

Many older people feel like they're not needed, not wanted; it's important that they get involved.
How does your father feel about the explosion of the gospel in Asia and Africa?
He's just elated. Especially with technology today, we're able to go into countries and take the gospel where it would've never seemed possible.

The Billy Graham Evangelical Society is still pushing that as hard as we can.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ministry Spotlight - Steve Seaton

Steve Seaton is the Executive Director of I Am 4 Kids, a faith-based program that provides one-on-one mentoring for teenagers. He joined The Matt Friedeman Show to talk about his ministry. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of his interview.

Tell us about I Am 4 Kids.
It's so unique. Basically it's just going out and meeting the needs of the community.
We want to go in to these kids who are hurting and bring them wholeness all across the board.

The school system explained to us that they had 50 homeless kids in the high school; they had drugs in the homes, abusive parents.

We went in and just started eating lunch with the kids. After a while, when they found out I was a pastor, they ended up coming to church and giving their lives to Christ.

In 2007, we started to recruit other mentors to help us. Adults will leave work at lunch and go eat with a child in school.

The difference is amazing. The first thing that changes is the self-image. As their insecurity disappears, so do other problems. The truancy goes down.
Do schools not have a problem with your being faith-based?
The reason they don't have a problem is that we just establish relationships, without trying to push anything.

They don't have a problem because we're respecting their boundaries.

We just don't go in and hand them a tract. If we did that, that's proselyting. After several months of mentoring, a light will come on, and the child will ask, "Why are you doing this?"

If they ask, we get to share it. A lot of times, they'll say something and I can share a story about how God changed my life.
Is this something that can work in other places?
Definitely. I'm hoping and praying that once we have this established, we can help this start in other communities.

It's so simple, because all you have to do is find out where there is need, and how you can meet it.
 Your core values are unashamedly Christian. How does sharing your faith work in this situation?
When these kids truly see love, they're going to ask where the source is, and that's when you can share your faith.

Mentoring is imparting character. I want to make sure my mentors are Christians, so they're imparting the right values.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ministry Spotlight - Al Proo

Al Proo is Executive Director of Happy Hands, a Oklahoma-based Christian school for children with hearing problems. He joined the Ministry Spotlight to tell us about Happy Hands and their outreach. Below are the "CliffsNotes" of his segment.

Tell us about your ministry.

We serve children from birth to age 6. This is something the Lord showed me I needed to do when I was pastoring a church.

Many of the deaf people I served didn't bring their bibles to church, not because they didn't want to read it, but because they couldn't.
Why do you start so young?
Statistics have proven that 99% of all deaf children are born to hearing parents.

Here's the real gist of the whole matter, is that the child's brain is being mapped. Most parents do not find out their child is deaf until age two and a half.

By that time, the brain has been mapped already.
How do you teach deaf children?
What we do is no different than what we would do with hearing children, except that we make it visual.
How early can they learn sign language?
I know some infants at 8 months who were signing before they can talk.

Science has proved that the children who can sign before they can speak have higher IQs and better reading skills.
Have you seen successes later on in your children's lives?
Some of the children who have graduated high school and gone to college are actually on the student council with hearing students.

Some of them are on the marching bands, and the football and swimming teams.
How can churches do a better job of serving the deaf?
Churches can be familiar with the deaf, make them feel comfortable.

Give them an opportunity to sit close to the pulpit. If they can provide an interpreter for the service, that would be fantastic.

The problem is churches serving children our age, that's where it's more difficult.

That's where Happy Hands comes in. We're not here as Baptists or Methodists, we're simply here to tell them about Jesus.
How do you stay afloat?
90% of our income comes from donations. We are always working hard to get scholarships for our children.

We don't take government funding. We're living in a Red Sea miracle here at Happy Hands.

One reason Happy Hands is here is for us to say, "God did this."