Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

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This year we pray that God would bless you and your family according to His Grace and Word of Promise. That the Day Star of Bethlehem would rise in your hearts and that the Light of His Word would illuminate the Narrow Way of Faith this coming New Year 2012. This year we have been meditating on the seldom sung second verse of a popular Christmas Carol "'O' Holy Night." May they bless you as they have us.


"Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! "

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Statistics on Unreached Muslims

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This Christmas Season, when we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior for all mankind, let's remember in prayer and plan this new year before us to help share with these precious people the Love the Gospel. Here are some statistics on just how unreached the Muslims are.

World Population: 7 billion people.
One third of earth's people call themselves Christians.
680 million (11.5%) are Evangelicals or Bible reading Christians.

The Unreached
Of the world's 15,958 Major People Groups, 6,415 (numbering 1.8 billion persons) are considered Unreached - though Christian work occurs among most of them. (www.joshuaproject.net)

Numbers of major religions:
2.0 Billion - Christians
680 Million - Evangelicals
1.3 Billion – Muslims

Annual Growth Rates:
World population 1.6%
Muslims 2.7%

"The 10/40 Window"
There are an estimated 6,400 unreached people groups worldwide, which still need missionaries to plant Christ's church among them.
Most of the unreached people groups are located geographically in what some scholars call- "The 10/40 Window" - from West Africa across Asia between 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees north.

Within this 10/40 window are:
1. Most of the world's unreached peoples.
2. Two-thirds of the world's population, although only one-third of the earth's land area.
3. The heart of the Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist religions.
4. Eight out of ten of the poorest of the world's poor enduring the world's lowest quality of living.
5. Only 2.4% of the world's missionary force and 0.01% of the income of the world's Christians.
While some of these unreached people groups are scattered among various world cultures, the majority of them are primarily in five major cultural blocks
3,276 unreached Muslim groups. Over 1.3 billion individuals are Muslims. One sixth of the world's population.

Over two billion people live in these unreached people groups and every day some 50,000 of them perish without having heard the Gospel. That is about 26 million a year.
60% of unreached people groups live in countries closed to missionaries from North America.

Internationals 22 million internationals visit the US each year. Of these, some 630,000 are university students from 220 countries 25% of which prohibit Christian missionaries. 80% of those students will return to their countries having never been invited to an American home.
-40% of the world's 220 Heads of State once studied in the US.
-60% of international students come from the 10/40 window.
-10% of international students are reached by ministries while in the United States.

The Resources
Worldwide Christian churches devote more than 85% of their resources on our own development. That is, only 15% of this arsenal of personnel, finance, prayer, and tools goes to bless unreached people groups.
In the U.S., the picture is even bleaker. According to the Bibles for All World Prayer Map, American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministry, 4.5% on cross-cultural efforts in already-reached people groups, and 0.5% to reach the unreached.
American evangelicals could provide all of the funds needed to plant a church in each of the 6,400 people groups with only 0.2% of their income.

Missionaries:
There are 430,000 Missionaries from all branches of Christendom. Only between 2 and 3% of these missionaries work among unreached peoples. 140,000 Protestant Missionaries. 64,000 Protestant Missionaries from the US. 6% Among Muslims

Money
Global Church Member Finance (in US Dollars)
12.3 Trillion - Total Annual Income
11.4 Billion - To Foreign Missions (5.4% of giving to Christian causes)
87% of foreign mission money goes for work among those already Christian
1% for work among the unevangelized.
The church of Christ has over 100 times the resources needed to plant native churches in these people groups.

Persecution and the global Church

Active persecution of Christians takes place in: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, China, Iran, Morocco, Libya, Egypt and Algeria.
Over 160,000 believers will be martyred this year.
US missionaries make up only 30% of the world's missionaries.
Our slightly declining annual number is being overtaken by increased participation from Africa, Latin America and Korea.
Of those involved in missions in the US:
98% are Senders (Financial Support, Prayers, Mobilizers, Pastors)
0.5% are Servicers (Administrative, Tech Support, Training, Communication)
1.5% are Missionaries (Church Planting, Development, Tentmaking, Tribal Outreach, Health Services)
Worldwide:
Last year alone, about 120 million people were presented the gospel for the first time.
About 1.7 billion people now listen to Christian radio or watch Christian TV on a monthly basis.
Christians now spend 388 billion man-hours every year proclaiming the gospel in evangelism.


The stats above are adapted from data by David B. Barrett and Todd M Johnson of the Global Evangelization Movement web site. Other portions come from Patrick Johnstone's The Church is Bigger Than You Think, Bill and Amy Stearns' Catch the Vision 2000, and the course material for Vision for the Nations published by the US Center for World Mission.

The Original Story of Thanksgiving

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Pilgrims
Pilgrim William Brewster holds a Bible as the Pilgrims pray for a safe journey as they leave for America from Delft Haven, Holland, on July 22, 1620.
The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. Their destination? The New World. Although filled with uncertainty and peril, it offered both civil and religious liberty.

For over two months, the 102 passengers braved the harsh elements of a vast storm-tossed sea. Finally, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, the cry of “Land!” was heard.

Arriving in Massachusetts in late November, the Pilgrims sought a suitable landing place. On December 11, just before disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the “Mayflower Compact”—America’s first document of civil government and the first to introduce self-government.

Pumpkins. Photo copyrighted.After a prayer service, the Pilgrims began building hasty shelters. However, unprepared for the starvation and sickness of a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring. Yet, persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.

The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends. While this was not the first Thanksgiving in America (thanksgiving services were held in Virginia as early as 1607), it was America’s first Thanksgiving Festival.

Artist's depiction of the first Thanksgiving. Courtesy of Films for Christ.Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in these words:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [birdhunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT.”
George Washington, first President of the United States. Photo courtesy of Films for Christ.
In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” Yet, despite these early national proclamations, official Thanksgiving observances usually occurred only at the State level.


Much of the credit for the adoption of a later ANNUAL national Thanksgiving Day may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. For thirty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. Over the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.

Abraham Lincoln statute, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Wallbuilders.Lincoln’s original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came—spiritually speaking—at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous “Gettsysburg Address.” It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend:

When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency], I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When Iburied my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not aChristian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw thegraves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and thereconsecrated myself to Christ.

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving each year, we hope they will retain the original gratefulness to God displayed by the Pilgrims and many other founding fathers, and remember that it is to those early and courageous Pilgrims that they owe not only the traditional Thanksgiving holiday but also the concepts of self-government, the “hard-work” ethic, self-reliant communities, and devout religious faith.
[thanks to christiananswers.net for this content]

Consider the Work of God - 20 Year Anniversary in Ukraine Conference

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We've just returned from an anointed and powerful time together in Ukraine for our 20 year anniversary of ministry in Ukraine. P. Matti Sirvio was our guest speaker with p. Gromov, p. Jason and myself. Here are a few gems mentioned at the conference:

"The goal of our concentration and time is not more production but intimacy with God"


"Every temptation is a lie. Otherwise it would not be a temptation."


"Church growth in God is not measured in numbers or how large we are but rather how small we become." Jn 3.30


"Sacrificial Love - means you are ready to take the pain for another"


"The higher & greater the work the the deeper you must dig a foundation."


"The lack of concentration is often due to the lack of personal consecration"


For all the messages from the Conference click here

Why is the "Naked Gospel" by Andrew Farley wrong in it's doctrinal foundation

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A book has been quietly passed around our churches in Ukraine "The Naked Gospel" by Andrew Farley, and I have been asked to address its teachings. I definitely have something to comment.

Who is the author Andrew Farley? He was formerly a professor of linguistics at the Roman Catholic University of Notre Dame. He is now the "lead teaching pastor" of Ecclesia, a purportedly Evangelical church in Lubbock. I have highlighted what points he strays in basic Christian doctrine. 

"The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church", teaches "Jesus plus nothing. 100% natural. No additives. It's the truth you may never hear in church." which sounds good at first but when you dig deeper into his doctrinal it is nothing short of heresy. It questions much of what is foundational doctrine in traditional Biblical Christianity and he questions the need of the believer to attend a local church.

The True/False Quiz "Challenge"near the beginning of the book, takes the form of a true/false "gospel quiz" 

1. "Christians should ask God to forgive and cleanse them when they sin." False, says Farley. On pages 149 and following, he claims that 1 John 1:9 is a salvation verse, and does not apply to believers. On page 160 he claims that no Christian need ever to pray, "forgive us our trespasses," because Jesus' model prayer is "an Old Covenant prayer taught to Jews before once-for-all forgiveness was accomplished." We know we ought to confess out sins as 1 Jn 1:9 was written to believers. Deception is when a person says he has no sin 1 Jn 1:10

2. "Christians struggle with sin because of their old self within." Wrong again, says Farley. On page 104 he says, "The moment we enter into Christ at salvation, our old self is obliterated." He severely twists Paul's discussion of the conflict between the old and new natures in Romans 6 and 7.

3. "When we sin against God, we're out of fellowship until we repent." False again, says Farley. As noted above, he does not believe this is the intent of 1 John 1:9. He also ignores passages such as the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. On page 163 he states, "It's inaccurate to speak of the Holy Spirit as convicting believers." - Jn 14 & Jn 16 clearly teach us that the work and office of the Holy Spirit is to convict.

4. "The Bible tells us that Christians can obtain many rewards in heaven." That is a myth, says Farley. On page 168, he dismisses this truth with the specious statement, "The term rewards does not appear anywhere in the New Testament." We know this to be untrue as there will be reward for the believer: 1 Thes 2:19,20; Rev 22:12; and the Bema Seat of the Believer- 1 Cor 3:11-15. We must stand before him and give account for those things done in the body: 2 Cor 5:10

5. "God looks at us as though we're righteous, even though we're really not." Wrong once more, says Farley. He denies justification by faith, specifically the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness to sinners. He teaches that Christians are inherently righteous, not sinners clothed in the righteousness of Christ. He says, on page 106, "God certainly doesn't condone our wallowing in a poor self-image. The risen Christ doesn't join himself to filthy worms. The Holy Spirit doesn't dwell in dirty sinners. Christ only unites himself with those who are like him in spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn't reside in someone who remains even 1 percent flawed by sin. But we've been perfectly cleansed. And we've been made perfectly righteous at our core through spiritual surgery." What is the nature of this "spiritual surgery"? "Our spiritually dead DNA is miraculously extracted, and new, living DNA is inserted into our spirits" (page 102). Farley believes that the OSN is "obliterated" at the point someone receives Christ as their savior. That cannot be true as Paul was a Christian when he wrote Romans 7. The believer though born again does have an old sin nature that wars against the spirit and is at enmity with God and that is why we "die daily" with Him taking up a personal cross. 

The Naked Gospel is yet another denial of the fundamental Gospel doctrine of justification by faith alone, in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone. This must be addressed in our churches' pulpits lest our churches be infected with a gospel that errs from the truth and causing carelessness and error.

[Thanks to Dr. Paul Elliott for his contribution]

Abraham's Altars

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The Altar, from a word meaning "place of slaughter," in the period of the patriarchy was the center of personal and family worship, being the place of sacrifice and surrender to God.


Mizbēaḥ: A masculine noun meaning the altar, the place of sacrifice, is a noun formed from the verb zāḇaḥ, which means to slaughter an animal, usually for a sacrifice. The sacrificial system was at the central point of the pre-Israelite and Israelite systems of worship since the sacrifice and following meal were used to solemnize a covenant or treaty and to symbolize an unbreakable relationship between the two parties.


In a short but interesting essay on the Jewish altar by David Mill, it is noticed that the Rabbinical writers used to regard it not only as God's table' (see Mal. 1. 7), but also as a symbol of mediation; accordingly, they called it a, Paraclete i.e. an intercessor; it was regarded as a centre for mediation, peace-making, expiation, and sanctification. Whatever was burnt upon the altar was considered to be consumed by God and guarantee that the offerer was accepted by Him. 


Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices on exiting the ark (Gen 8:20); the patriarchs built altars and sacrificed at various points along their journeys: Abram (Gen 12:7-8; Gen 22:9); Isaac (Gen 26:25); Jacob (Gen 35:7); Moses (Exo 24:4). At Mount Sinai, God commanded that the Israelites build the Tabernacle and include two altars: a bronze altar in the courtyard for the sacrificing of animals (Exo 27:1-8; Exo 38:1-7) and a golden altar inside the Tabernacle for the burning of incense (Exo 30:1-10; Exo 37:25-29). Solomon (1Ki 6:20, 1Ki 6:22; 1Ki 8:64) and Ezekiel (Eze 41:22; Eze 43:13-17) followed a similar pattern. God also commanded that the altar for burnt offerings be made of earth or undressed, uncut stones because human working of the stones would defile it. Moreover, God commanded that the altar should have no steps so that human nakedness would not be exposed on it (Exo 20:24-26).


As Enoch did, so did those that built an altar to the Lord, they "called upon  the name of the Lord". In the New Testament to "call upon the name of the Lord" signifies complying with his directions as to worship and obedience (Rom. 10:13; Acts 9:4; 22:16). So also, Abraham at Beersheba is said to have "called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God" (Gen. 21:33); in view of his previous practice of altar building. 


In addition, when Abraham built an altar in the land was, in fact, a form of taking possession of the promised land. The worship of God in the new land expressed Abraham's faith in the fulfilment of the divine promise. Abraham was already in the land of promise, and could leave the future conquest of the promise to God. Thus, Abraham was, by building those altars, taking possession of the land. The building of altars by Abraham and his purchase of the field of Machpelah was an indirect way of possessing the land for God. The places Abraham visited and built altars of sacrifice and worship were the same places the armies of Israel fought and conquered when they entered the land of Canaan. After the fall of Jericho, the first city the Israelites conquered was Ai, the location of which is expressed with the same words used in Genesis 12:8: "With Bethel on the west and Ai on the east" (see Joshua 7:2; 8:9, 8:12). After the conquest of Ai, the Israelites built an altar to the Lord on Mount Ebal, an area near Shechem (Joshua 8:30).Thus, the conquest of the land of Canaan had already begun when Abraham built those altars and when he bought the land of Machpelah. The same applies to the believer that when we surrender at the altar in obedience to God's geographic will and his perfect will, we possess the land by faith. 


That Abraham was a man of great faith there is no doubt. Scripture so attests (Heb. 11:8-10, 17; Rom. 4). Let's look at Abraham's 5 altars.


1. The Altar of Promise - obedience (Genesis 12:5-7)
Stephen recounts it thusly: "Men and brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, `Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.' Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell" (Acts 7:2-4). When Abram arrived in Canaan at Sichem, after the Lord again appeared to him saying, "To your descendants I will give this land"; and of Abraham it is related, "And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him"


2. The Altar of Intimacy - prayer (Genesis 12:8)
Then upon moving south to near Bethel he again "built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord"


3. The Altar of Returning - returning and repentance (Genesis 13:3-4) 
After his backsliding in Egypt, necessitated by the famine in Canaan, he came back to the altar site near Bethel, "And there Abram called on the name of the Lord"


4. The Altar of Possession - walk of faith (Genesis 13:17-18)
Further, when he and Lot had separated and Abram moved to the region of Hebron by faith, he "built an altar there to the Lord"


5. The Altar of Absolute Surrender and Trust - sacrifice and worship (Genesis 22:9)
While he was still in the land of the Philistines, God tested him, telling him to go to Moriah and offer Isaac for a burnt offering. Upon their arrival, "Abraham built an altar there"


When we go back and look at Abraham's journey and his altar building following significant events in his life, we notice two times when no reference is made to his having built an altar after a major change in conditions. When he went to Egypt, nothing is said of his building an altar there; and that is the first time he lied regarding Sarah. When he went to Gerar in the region of Kadesh and Shur, nothing is said of his building an altar. And he again he practiced deception when Abimelech, king of Gerar "sent and took Sarah" (Gen. 20:2). It was only after this incident and one involving a well of water which Abimelech's servants had taken from Abraham's herdsmen that the record tells us that "Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God" (Gen. 21:33). After the encounter with Pharaoh, Abraham was expelled from Egypt. They "sent him away, with his wife and all that he had" (Gen. 12:20). He returned to the place of his altar between Bethel and Ai (Gen. 13:3-4). It was after his successfully making a treaty with Abimelech that in Beersheba he "called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God" (21:33).


Building an altar and sacrificing all of ourselves to God denotes total dependence and reliance on Him. It implies saying no to self and yes to God—in effect presenting one's self in submission to God as a sinner, trusting Him in grace, and discounting our value apart from His work - Rom 12:1,2. Building altars became a habit with godly Abraham, the "Friend of God" (James 2:23) and so we may also in our faith journey with Christ in this world.

GGC Ukraine News Mission Night

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To view this as a PDF click on the image to download it.

May The Lamb That Was Slain Receive The Reward For His Suffering!

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The 1st two Moravian Missionaries
Leonard Dober and a carpenter named David Nitschmann

 
 
"Two young Moravians heard of an island in the West Indies where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. And the owner had said, "No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he's ship wrecked we'll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but he's never going to talk to any of us about God, I'm through with all that nonsense." Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa brought to an island in the Atlantic and there to live and die without hearing of Christ.

Two young Moravians heard about it. They sold themselves to the British planter and used the money they received from their sale, for he paid no more than he would for any slave, to pay their passage out to his island for he wouldn't even transport them. As the ship left its' pier in the river at Hamburg and was going out into the North Sea carried with the tide, the Moravians had come from Herrenhut to see these two lads off, in their early twenties. Never to return again, for this wasn't a four-year term, they sold themselves into lifetime slavery. Simply that as slaves, they could be as Christians where these others were. The families were there weeping, for they knew they would never see them again. And they wondered why they were going and questioned the wisdom of it. As the gap widened and the housings had been cast off and were being curled up there on the pier, and the young boys saw the widening gap, one lad with his arm linked through the arm of his fellow, raised his hand and shouted across the gap the last words that were heard from them, they were these, "MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING!" This became the call of Moravian missions. And this is the only reason for being, That the Lamb that was slain may receive the reward of His suffering!" - by P. Reidhead

A Prayer for Purity

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by Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1703-1791) 
Founder of the Moravian Church that sent out over 3000 missionaries



O Thou, to whose all-searching sight
The darkness shineth as the light,
Search, prove my heart;
it pants for Thee;
O burst these bonds, and set it free!
Wash out its stains, refine its dross,
Nail my affections to the Cross;
Hallow each thought; let all within Be clean,
as thou, my Lord, art clean!
If in this darksome wild I stray,
Be Thou my Light, be Thou my Way;
No foes, no violence I fear,
No fraud, while Thou, my God art near.
When rising floods my soul o'erflow,
When sinks my heart in waves of woe,
Jesus, Thy timely aid impart, And raise my head, and cheer my heart. Savior, where'er Thy steps I see, Dauntless, untired, I follow Thee; O let They hand support me still, And lead me to Thy holy hill! If rough and thorny be the way, My strength proportion to my day; Till toil, and grief, and pain shall cease, Were all is calm, and joy, and peace.

Philly Move Update

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Many have asked us for an update regarding our move up to Philly. Presently we are prepping our home to be rented out as well as some last minute issues that came up with our furnace. Our prayer is that God would lead divinely lead renters that He wants in our home. This will be important as this will be part of our support in Philly.

Our prayer goal is to be resident in Philly with p. Tony Pallotta and his family the beginning of November. Be praying also for p. Tony as he prepares his home, etc for the move. He already has employment up there.

We are grateful for the incredible support and prayers of all of you and the Body for this great new adventure of faith. You can see what's happening in Philly at ggcphila.org. Thank you and God bless you rope-holders!


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THE MAN WHO FAILS
Alfred J. Waterhouse

Let others sing to the hero who wins in the ceaseless fray,
Who, over the crushed and the fallen, pursueth his upward way.
For him let them weave the laurel, to him be their paeans sung,
Whom the kindly fates have chosen, who are happy their loved among.
But mine be a different message, some soul in its stress to reach;
To bind o'er the wound of failure the balm of pitying speech;
To whisper, "Be up and doing, for courage at last prevails.
" I sing — who have supped with Failure — I sing to the man who fails.
I know how the gray cloud darkens, and mantles the soul in gloom;
I know how the spirit hearkens to voices of doubt or of doom;
I know how the tempter mutters his terrible word, "Despair!"
But the heart has its secret chamber, and I know that our God is there.
Our years are as moments only; our failures he counts as naught;
The stone that the builders rejected perchance is the one that he sought

How Facebook and Social Media affects Church Attendance

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Although I do not agree with his philosophy or theology - Here is an interesting article by Richard Beck on Social Media's affect on today's church attendance. The churches mentioned in the article are churches that do not most likely have fervent Body Life.

There has been a great deal of hand wringing in the Christian community about the onset of Web 2.0 relationality (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, MMOGs). The concern you often hear is that "virtual" relationships are no replacement for "authentic" relationships.

No doubt this is true. But I've done some research in this area and here's my general conclusion: Facebook friends tend to be our actual friends.

No doubt, the vast majority of the people in a friend list on Facebook are strangers, acquaintances, or old school friends you haven't seen in years. But no user of Facebook is confused enough to think that she is "in relationship" with any of these people. These are just the penumbra around the core of our Facebook interactions, connecting with people we actually know and are friends with.

In short, Facebook isn't replacing real world relationality. Rather, Facebook tends to reflect our social world. For example, in a soon to be published study some ACU colleagues and I used Facebook to predict student retention at our school (i.e., which freshmen return for their sophomore year). We found that on-campus Facebook activity was significantly correlated with measures of "real world" relationality. Further, on-campus Facebook activity also predicted who would come back for their sophomore year. For example, if you had a lot of Facebook Wall Posts you felt more socially connected and were more likely to come back to ACU for a second year. Which makes sense. Who would be posting on your Wall day to day? Sure, old friends might give you a shout out from time to time on your Wall. But for the most part Wall posts come from people who you'll actually see today. Or at least this week, month or year. The point is, you know these people. Talking with them via Facebook is authentic relationality. It's staying in touch, coordinating plans, offering up encouragement, saying a prayer, working out misunderstandings, and sharing a moment.

Over at my friend Mike's blog there was a recent discussion about why Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are leaving the church. His question was, why are they leaving? Most of the answers took aim at the church. Churches are too shallow, hypocritical, judgmental, or political. Many surveys have shown these attitudes to be widespread among Millennials. Consider the Barna research summarized in the book unChristian. Young Christians and non-Christians tend to feel that the church is "unChristian." Too antihomosexual. Too hypocritical. Too political. Too judgmental. That's how young people see "the church." And it's hard to blame them.

But my argument at Mike's blog was that the church has always been this way. Is the church of 2010 much different from the church of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, or '90s? I don't think so. So, yes, the church is screwed up. Always has been. The church has been a depressing constant over the generations. So the change isn't with the church. The change is with the Millennials. If so, in what way and how has this change related to the church?

The most obvious change is in mobile and Web 2.0 connectivity. Generation X didn't have cell phones. Nor did they have Facebook or text messaging. And you can't tell me that Millennials see the church any differently than Generation X saw it. Look to the right at cell phone subscriptions plotted by decade. Most have Generation X as birth dates between 1961 to 1981. Which has Gen X as college students in the years 1979 to 1999. As you can see, most Gen X'ers didn't have cellphones. And based on the sociological evidence Gen X was much more cynical and anti-establishment when compared to the Millennials. So you can't tell me Gen X'ers didn't see the church as judgmental, hypocritical, or sold-out. They did.

So what happened? Why didn't Gen X leave the church while the Millennials are leaving in droves?

The difference between Generations X and Y isn't in their views of the church. It's about those cellphones. It's about relationships and connectivity. Most Gen X'ers didn't have cell phones, text messaging or Facebook. These things were creeping in during their college years but the explosive onset of mobile devices and social computing had yet to truly take off.

So why has mobile social computing affected church attendance? Well, if church has always been kind of lame and irritating why did people go in the first place? Easy, social relationships. Church has always been about social affiliation. You met your friends, discussed your week, talked football, shared information about good schools, talked local politics, got the scoop, and made social plans ("Let's get together for dinner this week!"). Even if you hated church you could feel lonely without it. Particularly with the loss of "third places" in America.

But Millennials are in a different social situation. They don't need physical locations for social affiliation. They can make dinner plans via text, cell phone call or Facebook. In short, the thing that kept young people going to church, despite their irritations, has been effectively replaced. You don't need to go to church to stay connected or in touch. You have an iPhone.

Sure, Millennials will report that the "reason" they are leaving the church is due to its perceived hypocrisy or shallowness. My argument is that while this might be the proximate cause the more distal cause is social computing. Already connected Millennials have the luxury to kick the church to the curb. This is the position of strength that other generations did not have. We fussed about the church but, at the end of the day, you went to stay connected. For us, church was Facebook!

The pushback here will be that all this Millennial social computing, all this Facebooking, isn't real, authentic relationship. I'd disagree with that assessment. It goes to the point I made earlier: Most of our Facebook interactions are with people we know, love, and are in daily contact with. Facebook isn't replacing "real" relationships with "virtual" relationships. It's simply connecting us to our real friends. And if you can do this without getting up early on Sunday morning why go to church? Particularly if the church is hypocritical and shallow? Why mess with it?

Why are Millennials leaving the church? It's simple. Mobile social computing has replaced the main draw of the traditional church: Social connection and affiliation.

David Brainerd's last journal entries - Missionary to the American Indians

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Reading these last entries recently stirred me. This journal was used by God to inspire many modern day missionaries from the 1700's on till today.

Wednesday, Sept. 23. 1747
I finished my corrections of the little piece before mentioned, and felt uncommonly peaceful; it seemed as if I had now done all my work in this world, and stood ready for my call to a better. As long as I see any thing to be done for God, life is worth having: but oh, how vain and unworthy it is, to live for any lower end! ---- This day I indited a letter, I think, of  great importance, to the Reverend Mr. Byram in New Jersey. Oh that God would bless and succeed that letter, which was written for the benefit of his church! Oh that God would  purify the sons of Levi, that his glory may be advanced! ---- This night I endured a dreadful turn, wherein my life was expected scarce an hour or minute together. But blessed be God, I have enjoyed considerable sweetness in divine things this week, both by night and day.

His last entry: Friday, Oct. 2. 1747
My soul was this day, at turns, sweetly set on God: I longed to be with him, that I might behold his glory. I felt sweetly disposed to commit all to him, even my dearest friends, my dearest flock, my absent brother, and all my concerns for time and eternity. Oh that his kingdom might come in the world; that they might all love and glorify him, for what he is in himself; and that the blessed Redeemer might see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! 'Oh come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen.'

When I Survey the Wonderous Cross

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I woke up this morning with this old hymn by Isaac Watts stirring my heart. It tells the story that we are not our own but that we were bought with a costly price, His Blood...

"When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it Lord that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrificed them to His blood

See from His head His hands His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ere such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing so divine"
Demands my soul my life my all

- Isaac Watts

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time - Eccl 3.11

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What a beautiful day of joy, tears, fun and reunion, a reunion of many we haven't seen, in some cases, for 20 years! P. Roman & Albina, two wonderful servants of God, are now one and have begun their race together to "win Him".

The wedding was attended by at least 250 people on a sunny Ukrainian September Day at a Baptist Church which when we lived here, was closed by the communist government and used as a warehouse for educational literature. It was the one of the first baptist churches built in Ukraine where evangelical baptists began their ministry to Ukraine during the 1500's.

I preached on 2 Kings 3.16 - digging ditches of faith in our calling. Both of them have lived their life this way the last 20 years they've been saved.

Now they plan to move to Kyiv and minister there to an eager church that awaits their arrival. Please keep them in prayer and if you'd like to help them please contact us in the GGWO Missions Office.

UkrCon 2011 - Our 20th Anniversary of Ministry in Ukraine! Special Guest: P. Matti Sirvio - Nov 13-19

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Eccl 7.13 "Consider the Work of God..."

In 1991 a combined team with p. Schaller, p. Matti with Hungarians, and I with a group of Poles from Krakow as well as a group of Americans from Baltimore; gathered in a little town called Bruhovichi in western Ukraine. There we had our New Years conference and city wide evangelism in L'viv. There God spoke to us the clear vision He had for Ukraine and the Soviet Union that was breaking up. Today, 20 years later, we are astounded at the work of God in Ukraine with 6 churches and a fresh vision for Eastern Ukraine. We've seen the Lord of the Harvest raise up for His Glory Ukrainian pastors, Bible Schools, missionaries, christian schools, orphan work, teen ministry, and much more. We are only getting started...

We are pleased to invite you to our Ukrainian Conference November 13-19th in L'viv, Ukraine. Our special guest speaker will be p. Matti Sirvio - serving in Istanbul, Turkey. We will have guest speakers from Hungary, Poland, Russia, and of course, Ukraine.

This will be a joyful special celebration of God's Faithfulness and we hoping to see you there as you are a key part of the family of God in Ukraine through your prayers, support and investment over the years. 

For more information you may contact:
p. Chris Moore - (see "contact" link at the upper right hand of the blog)
p. Myhaylo - the pastor in L'viv - +380931430040 or +380964257411
Yura Petriv - Conference Administrator - +380634824509 0r +380979607025
Office E.mail - church@ggwo.org.ua

See you in L'viv!

Fervent Love Produces Fervent Faith

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Here is a message you may enjoy that pastor Scibelli and I preached in Baltimore July 13th, 2011. It's regarding fear and how God's fervent love released the disciples from fear to world evangelism.

Fervent Love Produces Fervent Faith

Philadelphia Grace Hour Rally/Concert - July 23rd

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Anointed for Sweet Exhaustion

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If you cannot see the slides click here: http://bit.ly/ppCEwn

P. Vladimir Teplov and I sat in his Moscow apartment for a few minutes too exhausted to speak. We looked at each other and just smiled.

"How was the conference in Helsinki?"
"Oh" he said with his tired but purposeful Russian accent,
"It was a-mazing". Rubbing his eyes he struggled to utter a few choice quotes from p.Love. Then in the middle of his sentence he stopped, turned with sleepy eyes smiled again and said "let's pr-ray".

I had just arrived an hour ago to St. Petersburg by early morning (2am) plane from Tyumen, Siberia where sleep was what we did when we weren't preaching, praying or fellowshipping and eating pelmeni. P. Vladimir had just moments ago walked in the door from a sleepless night in a mini-bus from Helsinki to St.Pete followed by a long train ride to Moscow.

We prayed briefly then I got up with my bags and went out the door - I was off on a 28 hour trek back to Baltimore by plane, train, and metro. As I walked out onto the sidewalk he opened a window and shouted to me from the second floor;

"Hey pastor Chris!" looking up a him he just shook his head, laughed and closed the window.

We were beyond beat.

July 4-7 we met up with all the Russian pastors and many of the Russian believers in St. Petersburg and had a conference continuing the topic of Convention- "Anointed for Service"

By the next day I was two time zones away in Siberia at a missions conference with p. Pavel Gailans. Each night we had about 70 in attendance. Damir and Natavan from Baku came and blessed us with their joyful portion and Lezginka dances (see below the video). New team members have joined the team in Tyumen and God is adding new people to the church. It's a Siberian Spring there.

I think one of the highlights was sitting in the thick Siberian Woods with a boisterous happy group of young Russian eager men singing, eating pork chops, onions, cucumbers and dry bread with our hands talking about Luke 17.21.

Today is Monday July 11th, and as I write this blog entry I am hurling towards the Finnish border at 220 km/hr in a high speed Russian train. I am stirred in my heart with a fresh vision for Russia; Novosibirsk, Volvograd, Vladivastok, Tobolsk, Stavropol, and Kazan.

Let's burn for Him!

Here Damir and his wife Natavan dance the traditional Lezgi "Knife Dance" after a rap one night:


Here Arkhad and Damir do another Lezgi Dance for us:

Grace Hour Radio Rally - Greater Philadelphia Area - May 7th, 7pm

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UPDATE: Here is a slide show of our Blitz to Phili and the Grace Hour Rally with p. Love. We had about 70 people that hit the streets of North East Philadelphia with many that responded. Soon we plan to start services there and a Bible School in the Fall.

Enjoy the slideshow: http://bit.ly/k7TKpZ

"Emperor" To Emperor - Bonaparte On Jesus Christ

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"Emperor" to EMPEROR: "I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity..." So says Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), emperor of France.

*****

Napoleon expressed the following thoughts while he was exiled on the rock of St. Helena. There, the conqueror of civilized Europe had time to reflect on the measure of his accomplishments. He called Count Montholon to his side and asked him, "Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?" The count declined to respond. Napoleon countered:

"Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. . . . I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man. . . . I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me . . . but to do this is was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lightened up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man's creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ."

Whatever else one may say in response, it is difficult to explain this away as mere eloquence. In fact, it was to counter mere eloquence and such artificial power that Napoleon said what he did. With unbelievable insight, he saw how Jesus Christ conquered. It was not by force, but by winning the heart.

---from Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias, 2000, W. Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee...quoting from Henry Parry Liddon, Liddon's Bampton Lectures 1866 (London: Rivingtons, 1869), 148.

"Because He Lives - A Centurion's Tale" - Powerful First Night Showing!

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As the scriptures and biblical characters come to life, you will find that the challenges and personal struggles in the 1st century are much like ours. Come with them on this very special and personal journey of questions and uncertainty. Together we will see that all questions, both theirs and ours are summed up in one phrase... "Because He Lives"
 
Show times are 7:30pm in Chapel

All are welcome to this FREE event.

Drama designed to clearly deliver the message of the Gospel. Don't miss one of Greater Grace's Spring highlights. Pray about the part you could play in or around this production. Watch here for news on auditions, casting, and ticket distribution.
...
For more information, call 410 483-3700.

Directions
6025 Moravia Park Drive
Baltimore, MD 21206
410.483.3700

From North of Baltimore (I-95):
95 South; to 895; first exit – Moravia Rd. Bear right off exit; at first intersection, take a right onto Moravia Park Drive. Take a right into Greater Grace Church parking lot. Look for the doors under the huge "Greater Grace World Outreach" sign.

From South of Baltimore (I-95):
95 North through tunnel to Moravia Road exit. Go straight off the exit until you get to first major intersection; take a right onto Moravia Park Drive. Make your first right into the Greater Grace Church parking lot. Look for the doors under the huge "Greater Grace World Outreach" sign.

From South of Baltimore (I-895):
895 North through Harbor Tunnel to Route 40 East (Pulaski Hwy / Erdman Ave Exit). Get in far left lane on 40 East and take a left onto Moravia Park Dr. Go up hill and take a left at lights and first right into Greater Grace Church parking lot. Look for the doors under the huge "Greater Grace World Outreach" sign.

Eurocon 2011

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P. Maciek from Warsaw, Poland put this video together of this year's Eurocon "Christ our High Priest". This video tells it all. Thanks p. Maciek! Enjoy!

If you cannot see it click here: http://www.youtube.com/embed/mkvzaiPajuc

Take Heart Tour Kyiv - 2011

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The week before Eurocon we had 6 Maryland Bible College and Seminary students visit Kyiv and L'viv Ukraine for 5 days. We evangelized, rapped, preached and ate untold poundage of Ukrainian Domino's Pizza. The joy was tremendous and our students revealed a lot of Divine content as they ministered.

Enjoy the video - if you cannot see it click here: http://www.facebook.com/v/141300132603562

The Genuis of a Wife

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In the late 1800's O.W.Holmes wrote the following of the Genius of a Wife and I opportunely quote it here on my Wife's Birthday today...

"Oftentimes as I have lain swinging on the water, in the swell of the Chelsea ferryboats, in that long, sharp-pointed black cradle in which I love to let the great mother rock me, I have seen a tall ship glide by against the tide, as if drawn by some invisible tow-line, with a hundred strong arms pulling it. Her sails hung unfilled, her streamers were drooping, she had neither side-wheel nor stern-wheel; still she moved on, stately, in serene triumph, as if with her own life. But I knew that on the other side of the ship, hidden beneath the great bulk that swam so majestically, there was a little toiling steam tug. with heart of fire and arms of iron, that was hugging it close, and dragging it bravely on; and I knew that if the little steam tug untwined her arms and left the tall ship, it would wallow and roll about and drift hither and thither, and go off with the refluent tide, no man knows whither. And so I have known more than one genius, high-decked, full-freighted, wide-sailed, gay-pennoned, that, but for the bare toiling arms, and brave, warm, beating heart of the faithful little wife that nestled close in his shadow, and clung to him, so that no wind nor wave could part them, and dragged him on against all the tide of circumstance, would soon have gone down the stream and been heard of no more." Holmes.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart...

"Intimate Discipleship"

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“To WHOM shall we go…” John 6:68

Without a word dark silhouetted figures filed out of the dimly lit Kontraktova metro-station into the raw-foggy winter morning. At 5.30 am  Saturday morning in Kyiv the only people I saw on the streets were Babushkas sweeping the streets and the occasional blank-faced derelict wandering home after a night at the bar or at an intimate’s home. One such young man walked by me looking at me with a look I’ll never forget – the look like the gaze of someone dying with a terminal disease. After buying fresh borodinska black Ukrainian bread and kefir I made my way back to our team house persuaded in my heart that what we are doing here is so needed. People need intimacy – an intimacy that the world cannot offer but only that they can find in intimate discipleship. People need Bible School - what I call a “Honeymoon with Jesus Christ”

In the popular Christian culture of church growth there are a growing number of people that have become discontented with the shallow commercial version of Christianity. You can find some of them blogging that church planting has become more of a MLM endeavor rather than a passionate plea to people that they’d turn from the ever closer burning gates of Hell on the broad way that many find their selves on.

When we look carefully at the Great Commission Jesus did not command us to build churches but to make disciples – He Himself would build His church with the disciples we’ve led to Him.

Judas in Mark 14:11, began to seek how “he may conveniently betray Him”. Judas sought betrayal in a way that it would not be so painful for him. Intimacy in discipleship is painful – it costs something – everything, but what is gained cannot be measured or weighed. It is eternal.  That’s why when Jesus asked Peter – “will you also go?” Peter’s answer was so brilliant – “to WHOM shall we go?”. That is intimate discipleship.

This week we began our Bible School in Kyiv – “Kyiv Bible Institute & Missions” where we had 15 our first night. Five were first time visitors to our church – they had heard about our school opening by word of mouth and came out. This truly a miracle, thank you Jesus for this privilege. We are already planning our first Bible School Mission trip in the summer.

After EuroCon 2011 we are planning a trip with some MBC&S Bible School students to Ukraine with Pastor Morrison. Pray about joining us!