Missions & World Christianity

Christians in the Workplace

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As we have been going through Genesis and the 'origin of all things' we encountered the origin of work. Somehow work gets separated from spiritual life. There is a lot of confusion about work and its place in the Bible and the Christian experience. The bottom line is God made us to work and it is good!

Some good friends of mine, Gerry and Barbara Lachance, are making some efforts to bring together spiritual life and work. And they're having some success at it! I've known them for a along time. I 've worked and served with them in a variety of situations. They are good people and they are good at what they do. Here's a little introduction to them where they tell you themselves what they are up to. Check out their website and if you see them around be sure to introduce yourself.

Gerry & Barbara Lachance have a passion to see Transformation in the workplace. This is their mandate from God. So this passion has led them to start a new company called ROi Leadership International New England and ROi Equipping. The company offers solutions that will transform people. They bring solutions through training, consulting, coaching, and strategic alliances Their mission is "Building people in order to build business." The sense is that as people change, learn to understand one another, work with ethical behavior , companies will go from success to significance and this increase ultimately will affect the bottom line..

Barbara and Gerry want to see the mindmolders of society (business, government, church, family, medial, science, and the arts) transformed.

Here's what they say about their work:

Just as ROi Leadership is a company created to influence the corporate world, ROi Equipping is established to influence the Church world. ROi Equipping offers Training Seminars in all the areas of what it means to be a Christian in the Marketplace. Both Barbara and Gerry have spoken nationally and internationally on the subject of Marketplace Ministries.

The obvious meaning of ROi is return on investment but it is also the French word for King. They believe that we are all called (men and women) to be kings in the marketplace where we bring the church on an every day basis.

"And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen " Rev 1:6 (NKJV)

Scripture starting in the book of Genesis talks about us (the church) taking dominion. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Gen 1:28 (NKJV) Then the Scriptures go on to say, "before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; Gen 2:5 (NKJV)

So what is spoken about in these two Scriptures is that we are to take dominion, and we are to till or work the ground. The interesting thing is that the word for till or work is AVADAH in the Hebrew and it is the same word for worship. So our work was always intended to be worship. When I go to work I am going to my place of worship. So we (the church) are Christians from Sunday to Sunday including the five workdays.

Gerry and Barbara’s goal is to see every person whether they are a housewife to the CEO of a company understand their role of ministry in the place where God has put them. We are all called to be Kings.

Check out thier web presece www.roili-ne.com


Christian Persecution in Pakistan

Pakistan_matyr_2_1 Radical Muslims cut off Mohan Shahzad’s arm with an axe after he refused to stop selling Christian literature.  Even so, he says he will continue to build the Lord’s Kingdom, even if his persecutors cut off his other arm.

Pray Mohan’s brave testimony will demonstrate the strength that comes from a relationship with the Lord.
For more information on the persecuted church visit:

Open Doors

Voice of the Martyrs

Safe Harbor International


Persecution in the 21st Century

Persecution_logoPersecution towards the church of Jesus Christ is not new, Jesus spoke of it before the church was even formed on several occasions.  In Luke 21:12  "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name."

Further in John 15:20 he says, "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."

The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was not an apostle, but one of the members that served tables (Acts 7.) James was killed shortly thereafter by Herod (Acts 12.) These two deaths give us a working definition of how persecution is generally defined.  While persecution can be defined as being constantly irritated the persecution most commonly spoken of in the Bible is organized, usually involves more than one persecutor and is usually organized, officially or non-officially. When we use the word persecution in this way we are referring to physical abuse, torture, rape, murder and severe violence, not just the critical remarks of others towards faith.

Persecution still happens in the 'modern, enlightened world."  IN the latter half of the 20th century China took center stage as an unprecedented revival encompassed the largest nation on earth. When the Communists took over China, many feared the small struggling church there would be wiped out forever. Instead, a sovereign work of God began and turned into the largest spiritual awakening the world has ever seen.  The revival in China shows no signs of waning.

In the latter half of the 20th what began as a small trickle is beginning to turn into a flood as Muslim nations are experiencing a worldwide revival of their own.  The modern day Islamic revival seems to have begun in 1979 when students -including who many believe to be the current president of Iran- took over the American Embassy. Few then saw it for what it was, the reawakening of Muslim sentiments in the Middle East. In the last 27 years Islam is experiencing dramatic worldwide expansion, influence and power. Along with that has come a renewed wave of persecution in the Islamic nations.  As the list below shows the Muslim and the remaining Communist nations lead the list of persecution nations in order of severity.  The other number shows their ranking last year:

January 2006:                            

January 2005:

1.      North Korea          1
2.      Saudi Arabia 2
3.      Iran 5
4.      Somalia 7
5.      Maldives 6
6.      Bhutan 8
7.      Vietnam    3
8.      Yemen  11 
9.      Laos 4
10.    China 9
11.    Afghanistan 10
12.    Uzbekistan 15
13.    Turkmenistan 12
14.     Eritrea 16
15.     Comoros 14
16.     Pakistan 13
17.     Egypt  18
18.     Myanmar (Burma) 17
19.     Azerbaijan 22
20.     Morocco 23
21.     Brunei    24
22.     Libya  20

Throughout the week we'll tell some of the stories of those that are suffering for their faith right now.

For more information on the suffering church and how you can help visit these websites:

Open Doors

Voice of the Martyrs

Safe Harbor International


Does God Want You Rich?

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The cover of Time Magazine last week asked the question, "Does God Want You to Be Rich?"  The article was mostly about Joel Osteen, the 43 year Houston preacher with one of the fastest growing churches in America. Joel is pretty popular, not just in Texas where everything is big, but he was able to bring 43,000 people together over two nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

All in all the article was pretty balanced, sort of pitting Rick Warren, of 'The Purpose Driven Life' fame, against Joel. Warren is quoted as saying, "This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy? Baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self worth by your net worth."  You go Rick!

But Osteen, came out with an equally powerful quote. "Does God want us rich?" Osteen asks. "When I hear that word rich, I think people say, 'Well, he's preaching that everybody's going to be a millionaire.' I don't think that's it.' "Rather," he explains, "I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think He wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don't think I'd say God wants us to be rich. It's all relative isn't it?"  Hmmm..

The plot thickens when Christians are polled about their beliefs on Wealth, Handling Wealth and Giving it Away. When asked "do you agree God wants people to be financially prosperous," 61% of Christians answered yes.  But when asked if "material wealth is a sign of God's blessing," 73% said no.  More people agreed than disagreed that Christians don't do enough for the poor.

While the debate and the issue is spreading around the world, it is mostly an issue in the United States and where it exists in other parts of the world, it is there as an American Church export. So which is it? Rich or poor? And why is the debate so continent-bound?  I have a theory. Feel free to correct me and inform me. OK, here we go.

Over the last thirty years or so there has been a lot of rewriting and explaining of American history.  Books on "America's Christian History" flooded the scene, as did books to discount the Christian contribution to the building of our society. On the one side are those that say folks came to America to start new lives and to seek economic prosperity.  One the other side, with equal passion, historical quotes and antidotes, are those that say America was founded on purely Christian principles to bring glory to God.  Each adamantly states their case and neither will give any room or accommodation to the other.  Personally I don't think we can understand the "Prosperity Gospel" or where we are at in today's "Culture Wars" without examining our history.  The truth - in my opinion - is that both 'Christian America' and 'America: Land of Opportunity' grew up side by side, constantly interacting, sometimes colliding with each other, but ultimately each effecting and shaping the other.

I live in New England. There is no doubt that many, if not most, of those that originally settled in that region had religious freedom as a prime motivator. Certainly this is true of the Pilgrims, the Puritans, preachers like Roger Williams and William Penn.  But there were other settlements that  were built more on a desire for newfound wealth. 

Much of what went on in the Virgina colonies falls into that category of seeking newfound wealth. These were folks that were eager to bring their families to the New World for a new start and the hope of economic advancement. In response to that, some say, "Yes, but the Virginia colonies were also dedicated to God."  Perhaps, but it was the God of the British Empire, and those colonies stayed loyal to the crown not aligning themselves with the Puritans or the Pilgrim 'free churches.' They stayed loyal to the Church of England.  Indentured servants were common in these colonies.  Tobacco became the center of the Virginia economy, even being used as currency. In 1617 the first slaves arrived on a Dutch ship. Enslaving human beings for personal economic advancement is a part of our national history. Personal economic prosperity was driving force in many sectors of the emerging nation, while freedom of religion was a driving force in other sectors. America has a dual history of the drive for economic prosperity and the yearning for the free practice of pure religion. (As an aside, I often wonder and am still exploring how and when the 'Bible-Belt' shifted from New England to the South and the "Financial Centers" shifted from the South to the North. If you have some insight, let me know!)

The glue that tied the two together was 'freedom.' Freedom to succeed and freedom to practice religion as one wanted to without government oversight. The combined contribution of the colonies north and south created an atmosphere of unbridled economic opportunity, seen a right, and unrestricted worship.

The tension that exists in the Time Magazine cover article is the same tension that has existed for 400 years in America.  The tension between a life that revolves completely around Christ and His Kingdom or a life that pursues economic prosperity.  The Puritans had it as close as anybody has ever achieved in the United States.  The Puritans have a misunderstood reputation in American history. Most people think they were called the "Puritans" because of a dour and sour morality and lifestyle that eschewed any enjoyment of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. They were "Pure" in their doctrine and their desire to be "free" from State Government controlling the church. But they were industrious, innovative, life-affirming, prosperous and fearful of being too entangled with a world that is passing away.  They were not afraid of possessions, but they knew to not hold on too tight.

Back to the article. Does God want you to be rich? Well, let's ask it another way. Does God want you to be poor?  One of my favorite characters is Tevya, the tailor in Fiddler on the Roof. His monologues with God are priceless. In one, he looks up to heaven and says to God, "I know it's no great sin to be poor. But it's no great honor either." He captures the essence of the dilemma. It might be that Time Magazine used the wrong phrase to frame question.  A better question might be "Does God want you to prosper?"  My guess is that properly defined most people would agree that God does want us to prosper. Prosperity by definition does not need to be locked into strictly economic parameters.  Prosperity means to thrive, to be successful. In that regard I want to prosper. I would think this would be true for most of us and would define God's will for our lives.

I can be a successful parent without being rich.  I can be a successful husband without being rich. I can be both and be poor. I want to be a successful pastor, not so I can boast at pastors conferences, but because God wants success in our ministries. I want to see transformed lives and people coming to Christ on a regular basis. I want to try and create an atmosphere that promotes spiritual growth and has the best fed, most loved congregation anywhere. Why not? Doesn't God want us to pursue things on this level?  When people come to a worship service, they should be coming to a table that has been set thoughtfully, carefully and lovingly. I think God wants our congregations to thrive, however that might be defined by a local fellowship.  He doesn't want us full of pride, arrogance or off on our own looking down on others. Those are un-Biblical, anti-Biblical and sub-Biblical characteristics.  So the issue isn't rich or poor, but it may be a question of prospering, thriving, succeeding.  If success is defined as being faithful, than success can come without many results.  It is possible that prosperity is defined in quality and not quantity.

It's no wonder that in America we have birthed the "health and wealth Gospels." Some came here for the Gospel, some came here for wealth. We've been building on that foundation for nearly 400 years.  No wonder we have Crystal Cathedrals, extravagant television studios, prosperity preachers and Elvis shooting out a television with Robert Goulet on while holding a Bible in the other hand. As a culture we're as conflicted as Elvis floating between the Bible and spiritual life and accumulating more stuff. This is America. It's always been America. We were built on a foundation of money and God and we've been struggling with it ever since.

In the midst of the growing debate some twenty years ago, Paul Cho, pastor of the world's largest church said, "Prosperity is accomplishing God's will for your life."   I can buy that one.

Maybe the argument isn't, "Does God Want You to be Rich," but, "Does God Want You to Prosper."  I'm going to go out a limb and say, "Yes, God does want you to prosper."  As a mom, he wants you to thrive.  As a husband he wants you successful. As a salesperson, he wants you honest and helpful.  As a delivery person, He wants you to get it there on time and in one piece. As a pastor, He wants you to teach the Bible. Teach the Word of God, not your opinions. He wants you to feed the sheep. As a pastor, He wants you to do the work of an evangelist, even if you're not one. As a student He wants you to keep your nose in the books. He's not looking at grade point averages, but at faithfulness. You keep your nose there and He'll help you get in to the next grade. As a single person, He wants you to live sexually pure. As a parent He wants you to instill a sense of right and wrong and drive foolishness out of your children before they drive a car.

Is rich better than poor? Not if it causes you to live in fear or lose the most valuable relationships you have. Does God want YOU to prosper, to thrive, to be successful. You bet! 

I pray you have a great day, a good week and a prosperous life! And if you get a lot of money in the midst of it, remember where it came from, remeber money is not prosperity or success, remind yourself it is not going with you and use it to bless others they way you've been blessed. 

God told Moses to tell Aaron to pray for the people this way, "The Lord Bless You and Keep You, the Lord Make His Face to Shine Upon You and Give You Peace!" Amen! 


Afghanistan Deports Korean Christians

Afghanwoman_1 Afghanistan is at it again.  Some remember when Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry were rescued by U.S. Special Forces in November of 2001, after they had been taken captive by the Taliban.  Mercer, after her release, said it wasn't the Taliban that imprisoned her, but that God had used it and her to spread His message in that country under spiritual bondage.

Now, Afghanistan is at it again.  This week (Aug 4, 2006) the Afghan government, under Hamid Karzai, deported 1,200 Korean Christians, because they were "seeking to undermine Islamic Culture."  The new measures to rid the country of Christians and Christian influence comes as the government there is reinstituting the Vice and Virtues Ministry, which was a symbol of the repressive Taliban regime.

Afghanistan_deports_koreans_1 This is a picture of some of the Korean Christians that are being deported because it is feared they were trying to convert people to Christianity.  The crime of these Christian relief workers, according to a Herat police officer, is that one read a religious reading out loud and another played a song. When the officer was questioned as to what it was they read and sang, he said he didn't know because it was in Korean, but it was "kind of religious."

Many will remember the pictures, like the one above, of Afghan women under the Taliban regime.  Woman were not only mandated to dress in this way, but suffered many other restrictions, such as prohibitions against dealing with male shop-keepers.  Other difficulties imposed on woman by the Taliban included:

(1) Complete ban on women working outside their homes, including teachers, doctors and engineers.  (2) Complete restriction on women's movement outside of their houses without a mahram (father, brother or husband).  (3) Ban on being treated by a male doctor.  (4) Ban on studying at school, university or any other educational institution.  (5) Compulsory wearing of a long veil (Burqa) which covers women from head to toe. (6) Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women whose Burqa is not worn in accordance to Taliban rules. (7) Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles. (8) Public stoning of women for having sex outside marriage (a number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule.)  (9) Ban on all use of make-up (a number of women's fingers have been amputated for having painted nails.)
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Pray for Afghanistan. Pray for the brave Christian workers like Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, that have risked all to tell people about the glorious message of freedom in Christ. That the truth still sets us free. Men AND women.
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If you would like a free CD of Heather Mercer's testimony, go to our church website www.revelation320.org and send us an email asking for one. We'll get it right out to you!
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Keep your eyes to the sky, your feet on the ground and your heart with people.  and additionally, keep your nose in your Bible and your thumb in the newspaper.


The Church: A History of Anti-Semitism

Constatine_1The Emperor Constantine is known as the first Christian emperor of the Rome. I've got my doubts that he was a Christian, but who am I to judge?  That's God's job.  Nevertheless from Constantine on, the church has undoubtedly contributed and been party to anti-semitism throughout history. To my mind this is wrong and we need to own up to our history.  Here are some quotes:

1) The first "Christian" Emperor, Constantine (315 ad), legally branded the Jews a "vicious and perverse sect."

2) Emperor Justinian (527-565) decreed:
"They (the Jews) shall enjoy no honors.  Their status shall reflect the perverse condition they have desired in their souls."  Under Justinian’s Law Code, Jews were not considered credible witnesses against Christians in a lawsuit. Jews were forbidden to teach the prophecies concerning the physical restoration of the nation Israel.

3) "Brothel and theater, the synagogue is also a cave of pirates and the lair of wild beasts...Living for their belly, mouth forever gaping, the Jews behave no better than hogs and goats in the lewd grossness and the excesses of their gluttony...Jews are possessed by demons."   St. John Chrysostom

4) In 1215, Pope Innocent III and the Fourth Lateran Council ordered Jews to wear distinctive Jewish hats and yellow arm badges.  The Jews were ordered segregated into Ghettos in every city. “Jews, against whom the blood of Jesus Christ cries out, although they ought to be slain lest the Christian people forget the Divine law, ought nevertheless to be dispersed over the earth as wanderers so their countenance might be full of shame and they might seek for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."   Innocent III

5) According to a Papal Bull issued July 12, 1555 by Pope Paul IV:
"In Rome and all the other cities of the Papal States, the Jews shall live entirely separate from the Christians, in a quarter or a street with one entrance and one exit.  They shall build no new synagogue nor own real estate."

6) When the Black Plague of 1348-1349 killed 1/3 of Europe, the Jews were blamed for it.  They were accused of poisoning Christians wells.  They were also accused of using Christian babies for sacrifices.  Angry mobs wiped out hundreds of Jewish Ghettos.

7) Martin Luther  “What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?...Let me give you my honest advice. First, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may be able to see a cinder or stone of it.  And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians...  Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed.  For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues...  Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more."     "Against the Jews and Their Lies”

8) "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the almighty Creator; by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”     ADOLPH HITLER   Mein Keif

Hitler had many of the clergy of Germany in his pocket going along with him as Germany moved towards the Holocaust.  There were a few notable exceptions, not the least of them being Dietrich Bonhoffer, who we'll talk about at another time.