Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bamboo Curtain

Good Works and the Gospel

Just before China was taken over by the communists, one communist officer made a revealing statement to a missionary, John Meadows: "You missionaries have been in China for over a hundred years, but you have not won China to your cause. You lament the fact that there are uncounted millions who have never heard the name of your God. Nor do they know anything of your Christianity. But we communists have been in China less than 10 years, and there is not a Chinese who does not know...has not heard the name of Stalin...or something of communism...We have filled China with our doctrine.
"Now let me tell you why you have failed and we have succeeded," the officer continued. "You have tried to win the attention of masses by building churches, missions, mission hospitals, schools and what not. But we communists have printed our message and spread our literature all over China. Someday we will drive you missionaries out of our country, and we will do it by the means of the printed page."

Today of course, John Meadows is out of China. The communists were true to their word. They won China and drove out the missionaries. Indeed, what missionaries failed to do in 100 years, the communists did in 10. One Christian leader said that if the Church had spent as much time on preaching the Gospel as it did on hospitals, orphanages, schools, and rest homes-needful though they were-the Bamboo Curtain would never have existed.

The tragedy of China is being repeated today in other countries. When we allow a mission activity to focus only on the physical needs of man without the correct spiritual balance, we are participating in a program that ultimately will fail.

Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan



So lately, I've been in a time of reflection to see where the Lord has led me in the present day. In church the pastor has just finished a series titled, "Remember." He spent some time in the Old Testament, the book of Joshua Ch. 4. This is the time when Moses gives the leadership of the Israelites trip to the Promise Land over to Joshua. As my pastor taught about the crossing of the Jordan (vs. 19-24) and the provision of the manna and quail (Ex. 16), he showed us how the Lord provides for his people. This provision also reminds me of when the Lord provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice after he was obedient with his son in Genesis 22. This is something I really began to embrace and think about how God is ALWAYS faithful. Looking back on my life it challenges me to think of the times when He has been faithful to me. Looking how far He has brought me today from a life of destruction, darkness, and evil, only begins to describe His faithfulness in my own life.

My pastor went on to teach us about remembering these times when the Lord has been faithful and good. After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River in Joshua 4, Joshua took the 12 stones he had taken from the middle of the river (vs.8-9) and set them up at Gilgal (vs. 20). In verse 21 Joshua tells the Israelites, " In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over." Later on in the chapter in vs. 24 he continues, "He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God." You see, the Israelites set up markers here to remind them of what the Lord had done for them. One marker, in vs.19, was the specific day the Israelites named to signify the days that God provided a way for the "impossible." The key marker in this story is of course, the stones they set up in Gilgal. These stones were a significant way to remember the Lord stopping the waters for them. These stones would be shown to generations of their families so that they too would be reminded of the Lord's faithfulness.

Another story that was shared in church by Pastor Peter from Uganda was the story of Jacob's dream in Genesis 28. After he woke, he placed the stone which he laid on, up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it, naming this place Bethel, meaning "House of God." This was a way for Jacob to set a marker to remember this place where the Lord came to Him. He named it the house of God because He was amazed and magnified God because of His faithfulness. This story also reminded me of when Abraham named the place where he was to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to the Lord. Since the Lord responded to Abraham's obedience, Abraham called that place, The Lord Will Provide (Gen. 22:14).

These passages influenced me to look at my life and see the times the Lord has been faithful to me. Have I spent time remembering what He has done on my behalf? Do I have markers set to remind me daily that the Lord is faithful?

These thoughts overcame me as I sat at the park on my birthday for some time to reflect on the past year of my life. As I was celebrating the beginning of a new year of life, I was also drawn to look back and see where the Lord has brought me from the previous year. I got out all my devotion notes from the past year and began to see what verses, books, and songs had been inspirational to me. I also saw struggles that I have battled over the year. I remembered the time when the Lord brought me to my knees in total surrender in February, when the Lord showed up to me in writing at Passion in April, when I was baptized by the Holy Spirit at church camp in May, the Lord providing for me to go to Hong Kong in the summer, His provision to settle me in Auburn, and His continuing faithfulness to comfort me in these times in Auburn. Looking back to my studies in the different issues I faced and the trials I have overcome, all I can see is the Lord's hand in it all-good and bad times. It just stirs up a humbleness in me to think that He has done so much for me in this year to remain faithful to me. And to think that He has done greater things such as wash, sanctify, and justify me (1 Cor. 6:11) in the name of Jesus!! How great the Father's love for me! But, I am reminded in Phil. 3:12, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." AH I love this!

Think of it like this, the cross and the empty temple are the two final markers the Lord left us with. He wrote His love on our hearts so now, WE are the Markers. We are living stones in a spiritual house. (1 Peter 2:4-6).

So don't forget his goodness and faithfulness that He has shown you. He loves and cares for us so much. He is providing even now, if we don't even see it. The Lord has been so good to you- He even gave His son to watch be crucified so that we could be made right with God by grace through faith. The crime was committed- We are sinners. There had to be a punishment or God would be unfair or unjust. This punishment was Jesus's death on a cross so that you and I could believe in Him and be free from our transgressions so that we may know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead ( Phil.3:10-11). So, rest in that today! Examine your life. See where the Lord has been faithful and praise Him for that. Praise Him for Who He is! Find markers that will never allow you to forget Him! The nail marks in His hands show that He never forgets us! I hope that this will encourage you today.