Tuesday, April 5, 2011

VOM: A Precious Gift

This continues the series on The Voice of the Martyrs Regional Conference in Los Alamitos, CA on Saturday, March 26, 2011. To see the first post in the series, click HERE.

I love Christmas! Do you remember how excited you were as a child to get a present you had been waiting a long time for? a new bicycle? a puppy? That doll that really giggled when you hugged her?

How were you feeling the night before, anticipating its arrival? Did you sleep? Did you get up and take a peak downstairs? Did you wake up your little sister, just to have someone to talk to about the beloved object?

And how did you feel that morning? Did you run downstairs? Did you pick it out from among all the other packages? Did you hug it close, almost afraid to unwrap it... maybe it wasn't there after all? Did you tear into the paper, and yell when you saw that it... it was really there? Did you jump? Did you cry? Did you hug it close to you, afraid it might be taken away?

Maybe. I think most of us have been excited at least once in our lives about getting something we wanted very badly.

But have we ever felt that way about our Bibles?

You heard me... your Bible... that book that sits on the shelf collecting dust.

Or that book... you have so many of... your own personal copy is nothing special. You read it diligently, but you wouldn't be heartbroken without it. You have others.

Well, Bibles are not as plenteous in other countries as they are here. There are different reasons for this. Governments limit the printing and distribution of Bibles. The Bibles that people do have are often confiscated or destroyed or left behind when families are forced from their homes (just because they're Christians). Or there is no available translation of the Bible in the people's language.

At the Conference, one of the speakers shared a video of a church receiving a shipment of Bibles provided by The Voice of the Martyrs. I don't have a copy of this video, but you should have seen these dear Christians run to the box, pull it open, and start grabbing the Bibles. Just like kids at Christmas!

The Bibles were individually wrapped in cellophane for protection. Most of the people wouldn't open the cellophane. They just held the Bible in their hands, looking at it with eyes that said they couldn't believe they were actually getting a Bible of their own. Some of the people held the Bible close and kissed it. It was that dear to them!

My question is: Shouldn't it be that dear to us?

Do we not believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? Why is it not our most prized possession? Treasured above all things?

It should be.

Here is a video to get you thinking: What if my BIBLE was as important to me as my CELL PHONE?

If you would like to know more about The Voice of the Martyrs' work in distributing Bibles around the world, please visit Bibles Unbound.

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Save a Life? Give them CHRIST!

I will go back to posting about the VOM Conference, but this is something I wanted to get out to those who read this blog:

I just recently watched To Save a Life, a movie produced in 2009 by New Song Pictures, a church-based production company.  You can read New Song Community Church's statement of faith HERE [I find it interesting, if not somewhat disturbing that there is no mention of Hell or the wrath of God in the explanation of their beliefs about Salvation and even final judgment].  You can also read more about the movie To Save a Life HERE.

The synopsis given by imdb.com says: "Jake Taylor has everything. He has a beautiful girl, he's the champion in basketball and beer pong, and everyone loves him. Then, an old childhood friend, whom Jake used to be friends with, commits suicide. Jake begins to think. He wonders what he could've done to save his friend's life. A youth minister tells him that Jake needs God. So Jake becomes a Christian. However, things begin to spin out of control. His dad is cheating on his mom, his girlfriend is pregnant, and his former friends ridicule and mock him. During all this, Jake is going to realize just what it means to be a Christian and how, to save a life. Written by J. Montgomery "

There are many things that I could say about this movie--both good and bad.  I could talk about the content--what a grim picture it portrays of the lives of the young people in our culture.  I could talk about the theology--how it didn't mention the name of CHRIST except when the main character's so-called friends were making fun of him (HUGE disappointment), yet the movie made it plain that there is a BIG difference between SAYING you're a Christian and actually LIVING like a Christian (almost redeems the movie theologically, I think).

I could say a lot of things, but they'd be pointless if you haven't seen the movie, and if you haven't seen it I'm not too keen on arousing your curiosity to go and see it.

However, there is one thing I want to say, and I thought was important enough to blog about.  That is, that this movie, although completely made up (as far as I know), depicts what is happening to real people... even at this very moment.

Do you know that there are countless numbers of teens who engage in a behavior called "cutting" in which they mutilate themselves with razor blades?

Did you know that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of teen deaths?  And that young women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, but men are more likely to be successful at taking their own life? (from teensuicide.us)

From www.teendepression.org - "Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, the third leading cause of death among teenagers. 90 percent of suicide victims suffer from a mental illness, and suffering from depression can make a teenager as much as 12 times more likely to attempt suicide."

Dear friend, these things should not be.  Our youth should not be so disturbed in mind and spirit.  It is a beautiful thing to be young!  Why do the young not feel that way?  What is it that we have been teaching them?  That they aren't worth our time or attention?  Do we pass by young people without giving them a serious thought or even a 'hello'?  They are easily overlooked, because we think they can't possibly have any problems worth noting at such a young age.  I tell you, their problems loom like a guillotine above their heads... will no one save their neck from its terrible fall?

Friend, our youth need CHRIST!  He alone can rescue!  He alone can save!  THAT is what makes this movie so sad.  It is called To Save a Life, but in the end it doesn't offer the very ONE that saves: JESUS CHRIST.

There is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12, ESV  ...ONLY THE NAME OF JESUS!

Friends, it has been my desire for some years to have an impact on hurting youth; those who feel forgotten and neglected; those facing terrible psychological problems; those who feel alone and abandoned.

Would you help me, friend?  I don't know how God will do this thing or where He will take me with it, but will you pray?

Lord, I am honored to be used by You in any way.  Yet, You have placed within me a desire to be used in the lives of young people.  Give me opportunity, Father.  Open doors.  And make me faithful to walk through them.  In Christ's name.  Amen.

If you or anyone you know has thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-SUICIDE.

Other teen help hotlines are listed HERE.