13 November 2008

Exciting news about Asia's Hope, and some prayer requests for me...

This is a two part email... the first part is a Facebook posting that was written about what Jesus has been doing in and through Asia's Hope in 2008... very encouraging and exciting to be a part of... toward the bottom, there are a few prayer requests for me... Thanks for reading! Graham

Part 1...
"Grassroots. Multi-denominational. Indigenous. Asia’s Hope is truly a unique organization that God is using to unleash hope to orphans in Southeast Asia.Thanks to the generous support of churches and individuals from all over the world, 2008 has been our most exciting year yet. Here a few facts you may not know about Asia’s Hope:

In 2008, God grew our organization from 4 orphan homes to 14. That’s 350% growth in just one year! At capacity, these homes will serve 500 orphaned children. This year alone, we rescued 233 new orphans from a life of poverty and abuse.

13 of our 14 orphan homes are sponsored by individual churches or organizations. That’s 93% of our projects in long-term relationships with a diverse group of Christian communities.

More than 91% of the money donated to Asia’s Hope goes directly to work in Southeast Asia. Less than 10% goes to administration and communications.We have more than 90 workers from Cambodia and Thailand, and only one American on staff.

Asia’s Hope is a truly indigenous organization that is responsible with its financial and human resources.All of our orphan homes are run by responsible, accountable and well-trained pastors. Our children are well-loved, well-educated, and enjoy all of the benefits of a stable, Christian home.

Asia’s Hope is investing in long-term, capital projects that will provide care for generations of orphans. Thanks to your generosity, in 2008, we completed 3 new orphan home buildings that we own, are occupied and are paid in full. We’re currently building three new orphan homes, which will be completed by February. We’ve also purchased three new pieces of property which will provide homes to even more children. We have spent more than $340,000 on these projects in 2008 alone."

...Part 2
1. As many of you know, Seda and I have been in limbo as regards getting married due to a temporary Cambodian law that says foreigners may not marry Khmer women. Due to the fact that there seems to be no end to this temporary status, we have decided to take a leap and apply for a tourist visa to the US. It is characteristically difficult for Khmer people to get visas to the US, but we are going to do everything that we can to make a case for it. It will take several months, so please keep us in your prayers. We would love to come around March or April, but it is hard to say with immigration issues.

2. For anyone who has known me for more than about 20 minutes, you know that I sometimes struggle with discouragement. I have had a bout of this in a few different ways lately, so please keep me in your prayers so God will help me to keep my mind on His plans and purposes and encouragement.

3. I continue to need your prayers in regard to support raising. I know that things in the US have been tough lately, and I am very grateful to those people who have sacrificially given to the work God has given me here, but please continue to pray for me that God will raise up monthly sponsors that will help to make my work here effective! If you know of someone who may be interested in helping me, please send them my email address.

4. Finally, Seda and I have begun working on a project of Values Education that was proposed to us by Dave Atkins at Asia's Hope. There are SO many things that we consider common knowledge that we take for granted as Americans, but that Cambodians in poverty often know nothing about. These topics range from how to make right and wrong choices, to personal hygiene, to how we should recognize and respect authorities. I am excited about this because it really incorporates all of the Christian school education philosophy that I learned when teaching at Mansfield Christian School. Not only are we teaching the values that are important for developing citizens of Cambodia, but it also will be under girded with an understanding of where these things are derived from in God's character... for me these are really cool things.

Okay, that is all for now... God bless you all, and I look forward to talking to you soon!

01 November 2008

Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting

A good little article about perspective on voting...

Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting
October 22, 2008
By John Piper

Voting is like marrying and crying and laughing and buying. We should do it, but only as if we were not doing it. That’s because “the present form of this world is passing away” and, in God’s eyes, “the time has grown very short.” Here’s the way Paul puts it:

"The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away." (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Let’s take these one at a time and compare them to voting.

1. “Let those who have wives live as though they had none.”
This doesn’t mean move out of the house, don’t have sex, and don’t call Honey. Earlier in this chapter Paul says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights” (1 Corinthians 7:3). He also says to love her the way Christ loved the church, leading and providing and protecting (Ephesians 5:25-30). It means this: Marriage is momentary. It’s over at death, and there is no marriage in the resurrection. Wives and husbands are second priorities, not first. Christ is first. Marriage is for making much of him.

It means: If she is exquisitely desirable, beware of desiring her more than Christ. And if she is deeply disappointing, beware of being hurt too much. This is temporary—only a brief lifetime. Then comes the never-disappointing life which is life indeed.

So it is with voting. We should do it. But only as if we were not doing it. Its outcomes do not give us the greatest joy when they go our way, and they do not demoralize us when they don’t. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart or holds together.

2. “Let those who mourn [do so] as though they were not mourning.”
Christians mourn with real, deep, painful mourning, especially over losses—loss of those we love, loss of health, loss of a dream. These losses hurt. We cry when we are hurt. But we cry as though not crying. We mourn knowing we have not lost something so valuable we cannot rejoice in our mourning. Our losses do not incapacitate us. They do not blind us to the possibility of a fruitful future serving Christ. The Lord gives and takes away. But he remains blessed. And we remain hopeful in our mourning.

So it is with voting. There are losses. We mourn. But not as those who have no hope. We vote and we lose, or we vote and we win. In either case, we win or lose as if we were not winning or losing. Our expectations and frustrations are modest. The best this world can offer is short and small. The worst it can offer has been predicted in the book of Revelation. And no vote will hold it back. In the short run, Christians lose (Revelation 13:7). In the long run, we win (21:4).

3. “Let those who rejoice [do so] as though they were not rejoicing.”
Christians rejoice in health (James 5:13) and in sickness (James 1:2). There are a thousand good and perfect things that come down from God that call forth the feeling of happiness. Beautiful weather. Good friends who want to spend time with us. Delicious food and someone to share it with. A successful plan. A person helped by our efforts.

But none of these good and beautiful things can satisfy our soul. Even the best cannot replace what we were made for, namely, the full experience of the risen Christ (John 17:24). Even fellowship with him here is not the final and best gift. There is more of him to have after we die (Philippians 1:21-23)—and even more after the resurrection. The best experiences here are foretastes. The best sights of glory are through a mirror dimly. The joy that rises from these previews does not and should not rise to the level of the hope of glory. These pleasures will one day be as though they were not. So we rejoice remembering this joy is a foretaste, and will be replaced by a vastly better joy.

So it is with voting. There are joys. The very act of voting is a joyful statement that we are not under a tyrant. And there may be happy victories. But the best government we get is a foreshadowing. Peace and justice are approximated now. They will be perfect when Christ comes. So our joy is modest. Our triumphs are short-lived—and shot through with imperfection. So we vote as though not voting.

4. “Let those who buy [do so] as though they had no goods.”
Let Christians keep on buying while this age lasts. Christianity is not withdrawal from business. We are involved, but as though not involved. Business simply does not have the weight in our hearts that it has for many. All our getting and all our having in this world is getting and having things that are not ultimately important. Our car, our house, our books, our computers, our heirlooms—we possess them with a loose grip. If they are taken away, we say that in a sense we did not have them. We are not here to possess. We are here to lay up treasures in heaven.

This world matters. But it is not ultimate. It is the stage for living in such a way to show that this world is not our God, but that Christ is our God. It is the stage for using the world to show that Christ is more precious than the world.

So it is with voting. We do not withdraw. We are involved—but as if not involved. Politics does not have ultimate weight for us. It is one more stage for acting out the truth that Christ, and not politics, is supreme.

5. “Let those who deal with the world [do so] as though they had no dealings with it.”
Christians should deal with the world. This world is here to be used. Dealt with. There is no avoiding it. Not to deal with it is to deal with it that way. Not to weed your garden is to cultivate a weedy garden. Not to wear a coat in Minnesota is to freeze—to deal with the cold that way. Not to stop when the light is red is to spend your money on fines or hospital bills and deal with the world that way. We must deal with the world.

But as we deal with it, we don’t give it our fullest attention. We don’t ascribe to the world the greatest status. There are unseen things that are vastly more precious than the world. We use the world without offering it our whole soul. We may work with all our might when dealing with the world, but the full passions of our heart will be attached to something higher—Godward purposes. We use the world, but not as an end in itself. It is a means. We deal with the world in order to make much of Christ.

So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.

By all means vote. But remember: “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
Voting with you, as though not voting,
Pastor John