We had the great pleasure of having Dr Jim Plueddemann (a professor in the Mission and Evangelism Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) preach at our church. Jim and his wife, Carol, have served as missionaries just about their entire lives. Jim served as SIM’s International Director from 1993 to 2003.
He told of how he, as a 12-year-old boy, was struggling with an overwhelming sense of meaningless. He considered all the millions of people who had died before him and all the many millions who would die after him. He too, no doubt, would die.
Would his life count for anything? How could he make a difference that would outlast his earthly life?
Later that day he was begrudgingly washing the dishes and his eye caught a short poem that his mother had glued in front of the basin on the wall. It read:
It’s a common and good practice to have a Last Will and Testament where you express how, after your death, you want your assets to be distributed and any other instructions that are important to you.
It was surprising when a Manhattan woman who died in 2015 left R1.4 million to her 32 cockatiels, her cat and her dog, along with specific instructions on how her beloved birds should be fed – which included popcorn.
However, that’s small-fry compared to a German-Shepherd named Gunther (a dog!), who was bequeathed R1.2 billion from his owner, a countess, when she died in 1991.
Your last words can tell a lot about you, your priorities and your concerns.
In my previous post I sought to show from John 10 that God has given Jesus a certain number of individuals who Jesus dies for. Jesus dies for them in order that the way to heaven might be provided for them and that their salvation might be secure. All those Christ died for will therefore be saved.
John 10 says the sheep are first the Father’s; then they are given to the Son; the Son lays down his life for his own sheep; they are kept in the hands of the Son and the Father; no sheep for whom Christ lays down his life ever perishes.
A well known secret at our church is that I am terrible at DIY. I can’t understand why though? I rate myself as very logical, analytical and somewhat handy; yet DIY escapes me. When I hang mirrors I drill into water pipes. I wrongly measured and cut the geyser-blanket three times in a row. I break things that weren’t broken. In fact, my wife pays me not to do DIY. Yet I love painting because there is a sense of achievement when you’ve finished. I painted a room this week and looked at the job-well-done with pride. In Christian ministry we seldom have the same sense off achievement. There is always the sense that there is more one could do: more people to visit, more work on your sermon, more ministries to be involved in etc. However, being a Christian should give us a massive sense of achievement when we think about the cross of Christ and world missions because, contrary to what we might think, God always achieves his purposes – in Christ and in world missions. Continue reading Jesus must call his sheep (Redefining missions)
The Bible teaches that God is sovereign and providentially orchestrates all things. In the Old Testament even the unbelieving king Cyrus of the Persian Empire is called “God’s servant”, because he, unknowingly, carries out God’s purposes. In the Bible God is always pictured as in control of all things, even natural disasters, the throw of a dice and the feeding of birds. Here is the question: if all things happen according to God will, why should we pray (or do anything)?
William Carey, the famous missionary to India, was at a meeting of ministers in England to raise money for his missionary trip to India. One older minister stood up and rebuked Carey. “Sit down, young man”, he said, “if God wants to save the heathen in India he will do it without your help or mine.”
Does the sovereignty of God, like this older minister supposed, excuse us from prayer and missionary endeavour? In answering this question, we must ask two more questions:
How we engage with our surrounding culture is a very important question for Christians. Culture may simply be defined as how a society thinks and does things. Your city, your suburb and your friends adhere to and embrace certain cultural norms; certain ways of thinking about the world and particular ways doing things. Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 makes some important points about how we should engage with non-Christians and with the world around us.