Announcing the 2012 Malawi Missions Conference

On behalf of Joy to the World Ministries, I am pleased to announce that plans for the Fifth Annual “Chosen Generation” Missions Conference are under way.  Here is more information about the conference:

Theme: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” taken from the Fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer.  Since 2009, we have been studying the Lord’s Prayer at these conferences (one petition at a time).  This year, we have built the conference around this theme.  I am very much looking forward to this conference.  I trust that the Lord will do some wonderful things in our midst.  I encourage you to come to this conference.  Pray and plan to be there.  Bring your family and friends.  We are going to have a wonderful time together in fellowship with one another as we feast on the Word of LORD and worship the LORD of the Word!

Venue:  The Namoni Katengeza Church Lay Training Center (Chongoni) in Dedza District – Malawi

Dates:  July 4-8, 2011 – I hope this will suit many of you who are students.  If you are working, I hope you can plan ahead so that you can have some time off work to bring your family and friends to this conference.

Click on the image below to view the conference programme.

Speakers include:

  • Mr. Elliot Khembo – National Director, Joy to the World Ministries, Malawi
  • Mr. Hussein Latif – Missionary among Muslims in Malawi
  • Mr. Confex Makhalira – Board Secretary, Joy to the World Ministries, Malawi
  • Mr. John Joseph Matandika – Missionary with Joy to the World Ministries, Uganda
  • Rev. Stephen Roberts, Missions Director, Joy to the World Ministries, USA
  • Rev. Charles Morris – President, Haven Ministries, USA
  • Dr. David Reimer – Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity, Scotland
  • Rev. Fletcher Matandika – Founder & President, Joy to the World Ministries

Useful links:

Visit Main Conference Page

‘Why I want the right to die’ in Scotland

I was greatly shocked when my wife shared this article with me this afternoon.  Al Jazeera published this article on their website.  I encourage you to read it here.  Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), Margo MacDonald has launched a fresh attempt to give terminally ill people in Scotland the right to choose when to die – which in my mind is outrageous and grossly immoral, cruel and careless.  It totally degrades the intrinsic value of human life as given by God the Almighty, who is our Creator (Genesis 1:27) and the Creator of heavens and earth!  This “End of Life Assistance” Bill sets out that anyone over the age of 16 could request assistance to die if that person was diagnosed as terminally ill and that he/she finds life unbearable.  Ms. MacDonald tried to get this bill passed in December 2010 but it was defeated.  According to the Huffington Post (UK), “A series of scrutiny sessions were held at the Scottish Parliament, taking in evidence from doctors in countries where forms of assisted suicide are permitted.”

I find Ms. MacDonald’s arguments flawed and unconvincing – but that’s not all that disturbs me.  The bill that she is pushing is in direct violation of the Sixth Commandment:  “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13).  This bill seeks to give man the legal freedom to take one’s life or that of another with impunity.

Here are some quotes from the article:

Assisted Suicide (“Mercy Killing”) – currently banned by law in Scotland & the UK:

In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, it is currently a crime to help someone end his or her own life. A doctor who injects a patient with lethal drugs in order to kill them could be prosecuted for culpable homicide or even murder.

Margo MacDonald wants that legal ban repealed:

“If it came to the worst and I was faced with a very bitter and protracted end, I should have the right to ask for help to end my life earlier than nature intended,” Macdonald told Al Jazeera.

She added: “I would like the insurance policy of knowing that if it gets near, and I would like to shorten it, I would not be putting my family at risk. It is not about pain, it is about making sure you are still yourself.”

Margo wants autonomy not dignity – She has a warped view of “dignity” according to what she says here:

She told Al Jazeera that the same debate is going on all over the world and if her bill is passed: “Scotland would be seen as a place where humanity, above all, and individual autonomy is respected. This legislation is really about the right of a person to see their life through and keep their dignity to the very end.”

Some church leaders are fighting against this:

When this issue was last debated, the Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, told a special Mass for Healthcare workers: “Laws need to be objective in their statement of principle. It is wrong in principle for someone to take their own life; it is wrong in principle for someone to help them to do so.”

Peter Kearney, Director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, told Al Jazeera: “Nothing has changed. Deliberate killing, even when assisting someone who is in a state of despair, is always wrong.”

Many doctors are concerned:

Many doctors are also concerned that legalizing assisted suicide could lead to frail or elderly people being coerced into taking their lives.

My Thoughts:

I hope that this bill is defeated once again in the Scottish Parliament.  I also hope and pray that Christians in Scotland and around the world will continue to speak out against this and similar violations of God’s law and order for His people.  From a human stand-point, Ms. MacDonald seems “unstoppable.”  She probably thinks so.  She is quoted as saying:

Since the defeat of my original proposal in December 2010, the volume of correspondence I’ve received on the matter, coupled with the continuing public interest, stimulated in part by some high-profile statements in favour of the general principle of assisted suicide, indicates to me a consistent level of support for individuals suffering a terminal illness or condition, for whom life becomes intolerable, to have the legal right to request help to end their life before nature decrees.

But those of us who believe in the Sovereign LORD who rules over the universe, know that the LORD is ultimately in control and that He has the power to stop this and all ills that have plagued Scotland and the world (see Proverbs 21:1).

Why Am I So Concerned for Scotland?

Just for the same reasons that I would be concerned if this was happening in any other country primarily because it goes against the will – it goes against the Law of God clearly stated in Scripture.  That’s the main reason why this disturbs me.  But there is more:

As one who has not in the least sense benefited from what the Lord has done through Scotland over the years, I cringe when I read this kind of stuff about Scotland or coming out of Scotland.  I feel a special affinity to Scotland for various reasons.  Let me mention three:

1.  The first missionary to bring the gospel to my home country (Malawi) was Scottish.  His name was Dr. David Livingstone.  Malawi is replete with monuments in honor of Dr. Livingstone and his work there – not the least of which is Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial capital which was named after Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland where Dr. Livingstone was born.  I had the privilege of visiting Blantyre (Scotland) a few years ago and saw the house in which Dr. Livingstone was born and raised.  This house is now the home of the David Livingstone Center.

2.  As a Presbyterian and Reformed Christian and church minister, I owe a lot of that to what the Lord has done through Scottish men like John KnoxSamuel RutherfordRobert Murray McCheyne, Professor John Murray, from centuries gone by (just to name a few) – but also from contemporary theologians and preachers like Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Dr. Alistair Begg, etc.

3.  I am now a gospel minister with a denomination that is rooted in Scotland, the Associated Presbyterians Church (APC) – and I feel for so many of my dear brothers and sisters in Scotland as I consider all the challenges and the spiritual battles that they face in their pursuit of Christ, His will and purposes.  I am concerned and this moves me to pray more fervently for the work of the gospel across Scotland and the UK.

Let’s Pray for Scotland, the UK and the World

Prayer is ultimately the answer – and our sure hope.  “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

Please join me in praying that God’s will may triumph over evil and that Scotland may be turned back to the Lord.  He has done it before, He can do it again.  Even though it seems like a dark cloud is hanging over Scotland and much of the western world, the LORD God can change that.  May the Light of Christ once again shine in Scotland even from the “farthest” corners of the world (like Malawi and such places where the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is now flourishing).  Perhaps it’s time to send missionaries back to Scotland!  Our God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we can ever ask or imagine according to His power which is at work in us (see Ephesians 3:20-21).

Faith Beyond Circumstances!! Please Pray for This Brother in Christ & His Family!!

This morning, I got the following e-mail from a “prayer chain” that I am a part of.  The e-mail said:

Please begin praying for this dear sister in Christ- Carol Poston.  Carol is the wife of the pastor of Rainbow Community Church in Fallbrook, CA. (about a half hour north of Escondido).  One minute she’s the healthy wife of a pastor, the mother of 5 beautiful daughters… next minute attacked by bacterial meningitis to her brain.  To read about this tragic situation and the unwavering faith of her husband, go to: http://carolposton.blogspot.com/.

I immediately went to the blog to read more about this.  I was shocked and amazed.  I was shocked because of the gravity of the situation.  I was amazed by the strength and courage with which Craig (the pastor/husband) is handling this fragile situation.  This afternoon, another pastor friend and I prayed for Craig and his family and committed them to the Lord.

For me as a husband, father and also as a pastor, my heart goes out to my brother in Christ, Craig.  I was greatly touched by something from his most recent blog post.  This is what he wrote:

“I do not yet have emotional energy to read Scripture to Carol but still can only cry to the Lord, Please Have Mercy!  Those are the only words I can find to say to God.  But I trust Him.  God will be glorified through this whole horrible tragedy.”

What faith!  Faith beyond circumstances!  Faith in spite of circumstances!  Craig is so candid as to admit his weaknesses.  He is emotionally weak and yet spiritually strong at the same time.  This is because he is resting in the Lord and in His sovereign purposes.  I really can’t say much more about this, except to say that it moved me, challenged me and encouraged me in at least the following two ways: 1.  to pray for this brother in Christ (whom I have never met before), but mysteriously enough, I feel a special connection to him.  I will pray for him, his wife and kids.  I will pray for his congregation – it must be hard for the congregation to see their pastor, his wife and kids suffer so much, 2.  to exult in the sovereignty of God which Craig I am sure understands and is resting on.

If you are reading this, would you please take a moment to pray for Craig, Carol, their kids and congregation?  Thank you – may the Lord richly bless you through Jesus Christ!

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).  “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

The Importance of Sound Doctrine, Part 3

Deuteronomy 6:4-9,

Hear, O Israel:  The LORD our God, the LORD is One.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

This week, I would like to address the importance of doctrine with respect to parents.  If we are going to sufficiently and effectively address the lack of doctrine in our churches, we have to start with children.  Parents are to be concerned about leaving a spiritual legacy to their children for the continuation and expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ that is biblically faithful.  Christian parents must embrace their God-given responsibility to raise their children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  God expects Christian parents to be their children’s primary (main) teachers in all things especially when it comes to the things of God.  Sadly, many parents in the church today have abrogated this divinely-sanctioned responsibility.  They have handed their children over to Sunday school teachers at church or worse still, to their school teachers.  This is not God’s way of raising children.

When you study the history of the Jews, you will notice that the LORD God gave them very clear and strict commands regarding the ways in which they were to raise their children.  Every Jewish parent knew that his/her greatest responsibility before God with respect to the raising of his/her children was to teach them about the LORD.  In Deuteronomy 6:4, we find the Jewish creedal statement (statement or declaration of faith), “Hear, O Israel:  The LORD our God, the LORD is One.”  Every Jewish child was supposed to learn this among other things.  But this was probably one of the first things they learned about God.  Besides learning that LORD (YHWY) is the God of Israel, they also learned that there is no other God but YHWY (“…the LORD is One”).  Thus children in every Jewish family would be taught this very basic and yet very profound truth.  While the children where young, they learned to love, fear and worship God alone and they knew Him to be a personal God (their God and the God of Israel).

God expects nothing less of Christian parents today especially with the coming of Christ.  In fact, Christian parents should be even more diligent in teaching their children about the wonderful news of Christ’s salvation for sinners through His Cross.  Christ came into this world in order that He might bring all of His people (Jews and Gentiles) to the Father (YHWH).  He is the LORD our God.  He is our Savior and He expects Christian parents to communicate the wonderful truths of the gospel to their children and declare to them and with them, “Jesus is LORD.”  According to Romans 10:9-13, this is the basic statement of faith for Christians everywhere.  The LORD God spoken of in Deuteronomy 6:4, has come to us in the Person of Jesus Christ.  He is the LORD Whom we worship.

God commanded the Jews to keep their religion both in the heart as well as in their households.  They were to love God with all their heart, soul, and might.  Their love was to be sincere coming from the heart and manifested in action.  They were to love YHWH above all creatures.  They were to exercise their minds in this love by learning the deep things of God and teaching their children the same.  In Deuteronomy 6, YHWH gave them very specific ways of doing this.  Firstly, they were to meditate on these things constantly.  In other words, they were to hide God’s Word in their hearts (Psalm 119:9, 11).  Secondly, they were to carefully and accurately teach their children these things.  Thirdly, they were to talk about these things all the time amongst themselves in their families.  They would spend time in serious discussion of the truths of God’s laws as revealed to them in the Scriptures.  Fourthly, they were to read the Word of God constantly together.  The walls of their houses would be painted with verses from the Word of God.  They would wear it upon their wrists and that without shame because they knew that this was God’s way of guarding them and their children from sin and to direct and remind them in the ways of His truth and righteousness.

I want to encourage you Christian parents to begin taking seriously the responsibility of raising the children whom God has entrusted to you.  If you are one of those parents who have abandoned this responsibility and handed it over to the Sunday school teachers at your church or to the teachers at your children’s school, you need to repent.  Ask the Lord God to forgive you and give you the grace to reclaim the responsibility to raise the children that He has given you in His ways.

More specifically, I would like to talk to the fathers out there.  God expects you men (not your wives) to be the spiritual leaders in your families.  However, it is sad to note that in many families, the men have abandoned this God-given role.  Instead, the women are struggling to raise the children on their own without the personal involvement of their husbands.  Men, remember, your wives need you and so do your children.  You are to set the standard/example of godliness in your homes.  Not only are you required to pray for your family (wife and children) but you are to pray with them, read the Word of God to them and teach them the deep things of God, the wonderful riches that are found in Christ, our Lord.  I therefore would like to challenge all of you men reading this article, to begin today if you haven’t been doing this already.  It may be hard at the beginning, but ask the Lord to help you and you will see what a blessing this will be for you and your entire family.  Here are some suggestions for how you can start:

In the mornings:

1.    When you get up in the morning, gather your children together (I suggest soon after breakfast), before you dash off to work or they to school, etc.

2.    Offer a brief prayer and read a brief portion of Scripture (I recommend the Gospels if you are just starting)

3.    Take a minute or two to comment on the passage you read

4.    Close in prayer asking the Lord to establish His Word in your hearts

In the evenings:

1.    Gather your family together (I suggest soon after supper), or just before you all go off to bed

2.    Sing some spiritual songs with your children (Psalms, Hymns or Praise Choruses)

3.    Pray the Lord’s Prayer with your family – all of you together

4.    Read a portion of God’s Word (I recommend from the Gospels if you are just starting)

5.    Sing another song or two

6.    Close in prayer – praying for the entire family with their specific individual (spiritual and physical) needs – committing each one of your family members to the Lord

7.    Then you can all go to bed peacefully

As a husband and now a father, I take this responsibility very seriously.  It is no longer a duty but it has, over time, become a great delight.  I thank the Lord for my own father and mother who modeled this for me and my siblings.  I am now seeking with God’s help to do the same for my wife and daughter.  TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!