NEEDED: MORE MISSIONARIES TO MUSLIMS

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

Since Muslims are so much in the news these days, we need to think about the fact that the ones who get radicalized and become murderers do so because they have allowed hate-filled ideas to poison their minds. But we who are Christians can give Muslims, whether radicalized or not, the Gospel message. And, if they accept it, it will have the opposite effect on them than hate-filled ideas. That is, the message of love of Jesus Christ for them and the rest of the world will motivate them to love others, not hate them and kill them. So, we need to see more Christians become missionaries to Muslims, whether they are here in the USA or elsewhere. Christian young persons, especially, need to consider this need for more missionaries to Muslims. They have their whole adult lives ahead of them, in contrast to older Christians who are nearing the end of their life’s journey.
Many factors keep American young adult Christians from becoming missionaries. One factor is affluence. Many American Christians are accustomed to “the good life,” which includes good incomes, nice places in which to live, and family living close by. “The good life” is hard to give up for the sake of missionary work. But God wants us to be willing to forsake these things in order to bring the Gospel to others, including Muslims. Another thing that hinders young Christians from pursuing missionary work is the fact that many Christian parents don’t want to see their children give up “the good life” in order to go into missionary work, especially if it means moving a long ways from home to work with people whom they don’t trust, such as Muslims. So, sometimes parents will discourage their children from pursuing what might be the call of God into missionary work. This is not good.
What follows is a quote of the Lord’s own words about the need for more missionaries. The quote was taken from the Bible Gateway website: http://www.biblegateway.com. Let’s take the Lord’s words seriously.

The Compassion of Jesus
(Matthew chapter 9, verses 35 – 38.)
35 Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they fainted and were scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send out laborers into His harvest.”

Modern English Version (MEV)
The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

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Walmart And Local Churches

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

WALMART AND LOCAL CHURCHES
Many of you who will read this attend Bible-believing churches. That is a good thing. After all, the Bible alone is God’s Book of truth. Here’s what the Lord said about this in John 17, verse 17,when he was praying to the Heavenly Father: “Father…..your Word is truth.” Every Bible-believing local church, small or large, seeks numerical growth. That, too, is a good thing. But what I have observed over the years is that many of the large Bible-believing churches are not large because they have won a lot of new persons to the Lord and then gotten them into their churches. Instead, many of them are large because they have drawn people away from other Bible-believing churches. This might or might not be intentional. But the effect is similar to the effect that Walmart has had on many smaller businesses in many communities. Walmart moves in, and after a period of time, many smaller businesses close down. Whether or not we should excuse this when it comes to a business is open for discussion. But we shouldn’t excuse it when it comes to Bible-believing local churches. It is not an honorable thing to build a Bible-believing church by drawing people away from another Bible-believing church. Not only is it not an honorable thing to do. It is not really an accomplishment to do it. It is simply a transferring of church people from one church to another. And many times those who leave one church for another do so for poor reasons. In some cases it is to make more business contacts. In some cases it is to find daycare for one’s children, or to get handouts of one kind or another. Some persons make how often a church has potluck meals a criterion for whether or not they will stick with a given church. Some persons leave one church for another because they are running from accountability for sinful behavior. A church should seek to grow primarily by winning people to faith in Christ, and by drawing in those who claim to be Christians but who are not plugged into a Bible-believing church. So, Bible-believing churches should make it plain to their regular attendees who they want to get into their churches. It might well mean slower growth than they desire, but it will be the Biblical and honorable way to grow.

WHEN THE WORLD SERIES IS OVER

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

FRED SAYS, “Hi, John! How have you been? I haven’t seen you for a few days.”
JOHN SAYS, “I’ve been fine, Fred! I watched every game of the World Series, including all 12 innings of the last game. It was long, but it was worth it. How about you, Fred? Did you watch the World Series? I know you like baseball.”
FRED SAYS, “Well, I watched as much as I could. But I missed some of it so we could go to a Bible study that meets 1 night a week.”
JOHN SAYS, “Huh? You skipped part of the World Series so you could attend a week night Bible study? You attend church on Sundays, too. How many hours a week to you go to church? It sounds like too many to suit me!”
FRED SAYS, “We attend 2 hours on Sunday, and 1 hour on a week night. That adds up to 3 hours a week, plus the short amount of time it takes to drive there and back. How many hours did World Series last, John? Or just the last game of 12 innings?”
JOHN SAYS, “Never mind, Fred, never mind. I get the point!”

WHAT IS GOD’S POLITICAL PARTY?

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
This is a reminder that God (by which I mean the Triune God who has made himself known in the Bible and in the person of Jesus Christ) is not a Republican, Democrat, Tea Partyer, Socialist, or one from any other political party. He’s an Independent. That is, he’s independent of it all, being, as the Bible says, the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity. He is the one who transcends anything and everything, in every way. He is the absolute and final authority of the universe, the one who is the standard of behavior, and who has made his expectations known in the pages of Holy Scripture. He is the one who, as the Bible says, does not, in contrast to the rest of us, change. He is the one who refuses to be the personal servant of self-centered humanity. He is the one who will not be put on a leash and led around by or for any political party. He will not, and cannot, be put in the box of any political party. He opposes wrong wherever it is found, and supports right wherever it is found, and will hold us accountable for our behavior. He is not now running for political office, nor has he ever done so. Therefore, he does not change his views on issues to get more votes. He does not make promises he cannot keep. He will not send us a bumper sticker if we promise to vote fo him. He will not send us a tote bag if we donate to his campaign fund, nor does he ask for donations to his fund. He never worries about someone finding out the hidden truth about his private life and making it known to the world. That’s why Christians sing that grand, old hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.”

Cigarette-smoking Church Attenders

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
Many years ago, a woman from a different church asked me if we had any cigarette smokers who attended our church. I said, “People who smoke? We have people attending our church with far more serious problems than that!” The woman did not say why she asked that question, but I had a hunch that it was because she had driven by the church building on a day when we had church services and had seen people having a smoke on the property. Or she had seen some of our people around town somewhere having a smoke. I might be wrong, but I also have a hunch that her question was meant to tell me it was not a good thing to have cigarette-smoking church attenders, especially if they smoke on church property, and that something needed to be done about it.

It is not my intention to defend smoking cigarettes, or smoking anything else. But I have told this story to make an important point: a church is not for perfect people, but for imperfect people. That means, a church is for folks just like ourselves. Some church attenders have not yet become Christians, and their attitude and behavior often make that plain. But we want them to become Christians, and so we accept them as they are (within reason, of course) and pray they will accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. If they do believe in him, their attitudes and actions will begin to change for the better. Other church attenders are Christians, but even so they/we are in the process of becoming better Christians. We Christians are still “under construction,” so to speak. We won’t reach perfection until we go to be with the Lord in heaven. Until then, we might have some bad habits to wrestle with, one of which could be smoking cigarettes. And until then, we might, no, we will, struggle with bad attitudes about one thing or another now and then. Maybe even frequently.  It is very easy to condemn someone who smokes while excusing our own bitterness toward someone who has hurt us. But when compared to bitterness, smoking is a very minor matter. Sinful behavior and attitudes must be dealt with in sermons and Bible studies. And sometimes a person must be directly spoken to about correcting these things. But we must make it clear to others that we do not see ourselves as better than they are, but as works in progress. When we do, it will help them understand that we are here to help one another deal with the moral and spiritual struggles we face on a daily basis. When they become convinced of that, they will become a church’s best advertisement that we exist to be a blessing to the community. The result will be that others will seek us out for help. Isn’t that what a Bible-believing church wants to see happen?

Questions And Answers About The Bible

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

1. IS THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes, and there are many good reasons to believe it is the Word of God. Instead of listing some of the reasons, here is a suggestion: read it with an open mind and discover its contents for yourself. I suggest you start by reading the New Testament, and then read the Old Testament. Note the many statements affirming it to be the Word of God. One of the most well-known is 2 Timothy 3:15 – 17. If you want to read a good article on this subject, read R. A. Torrey’s article called “Ten Reasons Why I Believe the Bible Is The Word Of God.” It was written in 1898. It is still in print, and can be read on the internet from a variety of sources.
2. WAS THE BIBLE (the Word of God) IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION IN 1611?
Yes. Two examples are the Wycliffe Bible and the Geneva Bible. These and some other pre-King James Version translations are still in print, and some, and maybe all, are also available on the internet. One of many interesting books on the history of old English Bible translations is by David O. Beale. It is called “A Pictorial History Of Our English Bible.” I have profitably read it two times.
3. SINCE THE BIBLE (the Word of God) WAS IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION, ARE THOSE TRANSLATIONS STILL THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes, of course. The Bible never ceases to be the Word of God.
4. WHAT, THEN, OF THE CLAIM MADE BY MANY SINCERE CHRISTIANS THAT ONLY THE KING JAMES VERSION IS THE WORD OF GOD IN ENGLISH?
Such a claim is plainly false, and should not be accepted. The King James Version is the Word of God in English, but so are the English Bible translations that preceded it. The publication of the King James Version did not in any way cause those translations to become less than the Word of God. The Bible is always the Word of God.
5. SINCE THE BIBLE (the Word of God) WAS IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT ENGLISH BIBLE TRANSLATIONS PUBLISHED SINCE THE KING JAMES VERSION ARE ALSO THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes. Absolutely. There is no logical, defensible, justifiable reason to say this cannot be possible. But it is more than possible. It is a provable reality. There is no evidence whatever that the translators of the King James Version believed their translation was the final translation of the Word of God into English. They did not believe, as many wrongly believe in our day, that their translation alone was the Word of God for the English speaking people of the world. Nor should we. Good translations of the Bible into English have been made since the publication of the King James Version. Some examples are the New American Standard (updated in maybe 1995), the English Standard Version, the New King James Version, and the Modern English Version.
6. WHAT IF ONE HAS A STRONG PREFERENCE FOR THE KING JAMES VERSION, BUT WOULD LIKE TO READ A MODERN ENGLISH TRANSLATION THAT IS VERY SIMILAR TO THE KING JAMES VERSION AND THAT IS BASED ON THE SAME ORIGINAL-LANGUAGE TEXTS AS THE KING JAMES VERSION?
In that case, I recommend at least two translations: 1) The New King James Version (NKJV). 2) The Modern English Version (MEV). The NKJV has been in print for many years, and the MEV was published in 2014. I have been reading the NKJV for several years, and I have been reading the MEV for several months. I have read the old KJV at least 40 times, and as I read the NKJV and the MEV, it is easy to see the similarities they have to the KJV, and their differences from it. But their differences are not so great as to keep one from reading the NKJV and the MEV. If you don’t want to buy these translations, both of them can be read on the Bible Gateway website, and perhaps on other websites. I have a preference for the KJV, NKJV, and the MEV. But I refuse to make this preference a test of fellowship with other Christians.

God Deserves More Than A Minute A Day

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

“GOD’S MINUTE” is the name of a daily devotional book that was first published many years ago. And based on recent research on the internet, it is still available. I have perused the book, but have never read it. Each day’s reading is able to be read in one minute. What strikes me about the book is that, even if each day’s reading is good, it is very unfortunate if the average Christian has only one minute a day for God. “God’s Minute.” That’s all? Really? If Christians would re-set their priorities, the result would be remarkable. One major result would be that they would spend more time reading the Bible each day than doing less-important things. Maybe re-reading Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 would motive us to take more time to frequently read the Word of God.