Saturday, March 25, 2006

How Spurgeon Grew from a Babe to a Man

How do we grow as people? How do we grow as Christians? Is it us, or is it God's work, or is it both?

"The experience of Charles Spurgeon is not beyond the ability of any ordinary Christian. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a powerful preacher that had converts to Christ every Sunday. His sermons are still in print today and he is held up by many as a model soul-winner. He recalls an experience when he was sixteen that shaped his life and ministry for the rest of his days.

"'When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when I first received those truths in my own soul- when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown from a babe to a man - that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, though having found, once for all, that clue to the truth of God.

One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about hte preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, "How did you come to be a Christian?" I sought the Lord. "But how did you come to seek the Lord?" The truth flashed across my mind in a moment- I should not have sought Him unless there had been some precious influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, "How came I to pray?" I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. "How came I to read the Scriptures?" I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and the He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you to act and will according to His good pleasure." - Phillipians 2:12b-13

May everything we do be for His glory and not for our own pride.

taken largley from "The Pleasures of God", by John Piper, Multnomah Press.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Some further notes on the Gallop poll:

We should understand the poll (see below) with the knowledge that many who do not adhere to Biblical Christianity, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses etc. would be included in the 6% of Japan that say that they are Christian. This
would also include those who may have simply attended Christian schools or are nominal Christians who feel the
closest connection to this "religion", though they themselves know very little about Christianity or the Bible.

Even so, 6% is an increase of 2-3% within just a few years. Especially surprising and encouraging is the fast growing numbers
of youth who say that they are Christian (7%). This encourages me that God is moving through us and ministries like ours that reach out to youth throughout Japan. Your efforts and prayers ARE influencing things, especially God's heart to bless us and answer us. - Thank you for your help!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

God seems to be starting to move throughout Japan.

Gallup Poll Of Japan Finds Christianity On The Upswing

(Los Angeles) A poll conducted by the Gallup Organization has yielded some surprising statistics on Japanese attitudes toward religion, morality and spirituality. Among the findings from one of the most extensive surveys of the country ever taken was a Christian population of 6%, a number much higher than reported in previous surveys. Researchers were also surprised by high numbers of teens who claimed the Christian faith, while the traditionally dominant religions, Buddhism and Shintoism though still claimed by pluralities of adults, suffered   declines among teenagers.

Of the 30% of adults surveyed who claimed to have a religion, 75% considered themselves Buddhists, 19% Shintoists, while 12% considered themselves to be Christians.

Researchers were especially surprised by the answers of Japanese youth however, which indicated a surprisingly high number of adherents to Christianity, as well as a number of respondents who claimed more than one religion. Of the 20% who professed to have a religion, 60% called themselves Buddhists, 36% Christians and 16% Shintoists.

Calling the numbers "stunning," George Gallup Jr. who assisted with the poll, noted of teenagers: "these projections mean that seven percent of the total teenage population   say they are Christians."

The poll was conducted in association with American Trademark Research and MJM Group in 2001 for use in a documentary that is expected to be released later this year.

"According to the social scientists in Japan, this was the single largest study ever attempted," said Bill McKay, one of the documentary's producers and project research director. "The entire study examined preteens, teens, young adults, adults and seniors."

"In my 50 years of polling, there has been no study that I would consider as important as this one, because it provides insight into a fascinating culture," noted Gallup.

"When they saw the design of the questionnaire, Japanese experts argued that the Japanese would never answer the socially delicate and/or the highly   personal questions," added McKay. "However, it was our professional hunch that the Japanese  were ready to talk and when they did they told us more than we had asked for.   The data is the most revealing look behind  the face of Japan and shatters many WWII myths of the Japanese culture."

The poll also delved into popular attitudes toward a variety of subjects related to morality, spirituality and general views about life

"Most Japanese, judging by their responses to scales on happiness, are neither "very happy," nor "very unhappy," noted Gallup. "There is a degree of fatalism in their somber mood. Teen's perspectives on life tend to a sense of nihilism to an alarming degree. A note of hopelessness is found in the responses to a number of questions. And there is little evidence of eternal hope, although a considerable number do believe in some form of life afterlife."

On matters of morality, Gallup noted a strong relativistic streak: "Like much of the rest of the world, the Japanese tend to take relativistic views on ethical matters. There is little belief in 'absolutes,' and this is true across the all-generational groups. In the 'hierarchy of crimes' (things that are wrong), those related to economic and family matters far outweigh those related to sexual activity."

Researchers were surprised by teen attitudes which reflected an especially pessimistic outlook on life. While 22% of U.S. teens in previous Gallup surveys often wondered why they existed, the number for Japanese teens was 85%.   Similarly, while 76% of U.S. teens always see a reason for their being on Earth, only 13% of Japanese teens agreed with the statement. A surprisingly high 11% of Japanese teens wished they had never been born, a figure that comes in at 3% for U.S. teens.

- Karen Weiss

Public Relations Manager
The JESUS Film Project
(407) 515-4467

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Most Important Duty

"According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life." ~ George Mueller

"Satisfy us in the morning with your lovingkindness that we may sing for joy and be glad all of our days." ~ Ps. 90:14

May His gladness spill over in love to others today!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Do you Want to be Forced to Love?

Robert Robinson, in his hymn "Come Thou Fount
of Every Blessing", makes an amazing theological

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love:
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

See if you can catch it again in George Croly's
"Spirit of God, Descend Upon my Heart"

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth: through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

John Piper writes: "I have heard people object
to that last line. They say love should be free,
not forced. True. But there are two kinds of
forcing. One is against our will. The other is
by changing our will. The first results in coerced
action. The second results in free action. My own
suspicion is that those who object to this prayer
have never seriously confronted their own hard-
ness of heart. They have not taken seriously
enough our condition found in the word CANNOT
in Romans 8:7-8: 'The mind that is set on the
flesh... does not submit to God's law; indeed
it cannot.'"

Dear Lord, like a fetter (a chain) bind my wandering
heart to Thee! You are the only true Joy to be
found. Change our hearts (we cannot) to love you
and keep loving you. This is our daily prayer.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Have you ever met the linebacker evangelist? Funny!
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