Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nine Missions Conferences Later...

It was 9 years ago this month that Christy and I came to Rhode Island to serve at Greater RI Baptist Temple. We arrived just in time for the start of the 2003 Missions Conference.

What an exciting time in our lives! Our first full-time ministry! A new home, new friends, a new pastor, and a new church family!

And what better way to start off our new ministry at GRIBT than with the annual missions conference!

For these reasons the month of October will always hold a special place in our hearts.

This past Sunday our pastor rightly explained,

"Missions is not a program of our church; it is the purpose of our church."

I love the missions conference! It's my favorite time of the year.

Let me share a few reasons why.

I love the missions conference:

1. Because it helps me to take my focus off of myself and materialism, and to direct it back to where it ought to be: world evangelism! The preaching, the music, the decorations in the auditorium, the testimonies, the video presentations, and so on...all of these things create a marked emphasis on the "Great Commission" that Jesus left us to fulfill.

2. Because it reminds that there are just some things in life that really matter most; namely, the salvation of the lost.

3. Because it challenges me to prove my faith in God's provision and to show my love for Him as I pledge missions support for the upcoming year.

4. Because it causes me to remember how faithful God has been over the past year (and all other previous years) in miraculously meeting the needs of my family.

5. Because I get to meet and spend time with new and veteran missionaries, who are always an encouragement to my spirit. There's always something inspiring and refreshing about a husband and wife who have offered their lives to the Lord as living sacrifices, and who are forsaking all in order to bring the gospel to the lost around he world. Missionaries are usually very grateful people, who rarely ever complain. How sweet it is to spend time with such heroes of the faith!

6. Because it reminds me of the loving, merciful, compassionate, long-suffering heart of my God and Savior Jesus Christ. Our Lord is not merely the Creator and Sovereign of the universe, but He is also the Good Shepherd of the sheep and the Savior of all the world! He loves all people of all races from all nations and tribes, and He desperately wants all men to come to the knowledge of the Truth, that they might be saved! I'm so glad my God loves sinners...of whom I am chief!

May we not soon forget the importance of missions as we move towards the holidays and into the new year.

And let us follow the example set by the missions-minded church of Thessalonica, of whom it was said:

"For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God- ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing" 
(1 Thessalonians 1:8).

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Poor Man But a Good Friend

"All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him! he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him."
Proverbs 19:7

Here in this verse, we read a divinely-inspired observation of truth--no one wants to be the friend of a poor man!

This oberservation is supported by a similar, yet more telling, statement in Proverbs 14:20, "The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends."  Can I say it again--no one wants to be the friend of a poor man!

Are you poor?  Are you struggling to make ends meet?  Do you find that your expenses border on outweighing your income?  Does it seem like you're always trying save a buck here and there, just so you can get through the month?

I don't personally know a lot of rich people.  I know they're out there; I just don't know many.  Most of the people I know are carefully managing their budget and limiting their expenses.  They can't "afford" a cavalier approach to their personal finances because things are so tight.  They can't just throw money around!

So are these poor people cursed?  Is it an invariable fate that poor people will suffer the plague of loneliness for as long as they live (or, at least, until they hit the jackpot)?

This may seem true, but it's not.

You see, a poor man may have friends, so long as he is a friend!

Don't let your poverty stop you from being a good friend!

The underlying truth of Proverbs 19:7 is that no one enjoys being around people whose poverty defines and dominates their friend-worthiness.  It's interesting to note than in the previous verse, God gives us a contrasting observation:

"Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts."
Proverbs 19:6

In other words, if you want to have friends...be a giver.  

Furthermore, consider Proverbs 18:24, which reads, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly."

If you want to have friends...be friendly.

No one wants to be the friend of a poor man, especially when that poor man is:

Often complaining...
Always looking to get...
Apparently jealous of others...
Always letting others know that he's poor!

So what's the answer for us (viz., those of us who are not rich)?  How can we make ourselves more friend-worthy?

Be friendly.  Make it a point to always put others first, seeking to be a blessing rather than receive one.

Be thankful.  Never complain about being poor (or anything else, for that matter).  People enjoy being around those who are positive.

Be a giver.  You don't have to be rich in order to be a giver.  Look at the Macedonians in II Cor. 8:1-2.  Give the gift of a kind word...or the gift of your time...or use your creativity to give an inexpensive gift of thoughtfulness.

"SO WHAT if I have friends?  I don't care...I'll just keep to myself."

Friendships are one of the means through which God allows us to minister--both to the brethren and to the lost.  So we must not deceive ourselves into thinking that a self-centered, isolationist attitude is pleasing to the Lord.  Let's keep in mind that God wants us to follow the pattern of His Son, who, though He was poor, yet  was a "friend of sinners."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Does God Celebrate Halloween?

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil."
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

Costumes and candy, yes; but let's not forget about...

Witches and warlocks, sorcery and magic, ghosts and goblins, blood and gore, skeletons and mummies, vampires and werewolves, Dracula and Frankenstein, horror and fright, and so on...

[Special note: In keeping with the purpose of my personal blog and Twitter account, I would like to express my desire that this article not be the catalyst for debate, argument, or strife.  Christians have the God-given freedom and responsibility to live according to the dictates of their conscience, as led by the principles of God's Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  I would therefore ask that all negative feedback and/or opposing viewpoints not be posted as comments on Facebook.  If you would like to contact me privately, please email me at ptkrampert@gmail.com.]

When we celebrate a holiday, such as Christmas or Valentine's Day, there are several ways in which we do so.  For Christmas, we exchange gifts, decorate with Christmas trees and wreaths, sing Christmas carols, and go to Christmas parties.  For Valentine's Day, our traditions for celebration are similar: we exchange love notes and chocolates, decorate with red and pink and lots of hearts, and go to Valentine's parties.

How do we celebrate Halloween?  We put up Halloween decorations in our homes, watch traditional "Halloween" movies, attend Halloween parties, and of course, go trick-or-treating!

In this article I wish to answer two questions that pertain to a Christian's celebration of Halloween.  The first question was asked to my wife recently:

"What reason should I give my daughter (4 years old) as to why we don't go trick-or-treating?"

I truly believe the answer to this question is quite simple.  A parent should always tell his children the truth.  Therefore, the answer to the above question is: "Because we don't celebrate Halloween."

The second question, however, is a bit more thought-provoking, and will naturally stem from the first question's answer: 

"Why don't we celebrate Halloween?"

There are many Christians who have chosen not to celebrate Halloween.  However, truth be told, there are many Christians who see Halloween merely as a fun holiday for children to dress up in costumes and receive candy--thus these Christians see no objection in participating in the festivities of Halloween.

I personally have decided, on behalf of my family and myself, that we will not celebrate Halloween. And the reason is as follows: God doesn't celebrate Halloween.  

Think about it:

God is against: Satan, the occult, human sacrifice, idol worship, murder, gore, spiritism, horror, fright, witchcraft, violence, and all other evil.  These are the very things that form the origin of Halloween, and that are so prevalent in the representations and celebrations of Halloween.  

These wicked things are what Halloween stands for!

Do you think God is happy when we celebrate the birth and resurrection of His Son on Christmas and Easter?  Do you think He's happy when we set aside a day of the year to celebrate love, which is His chief attribute, on Valentine's Day?  Do you think He's pleased when we honor men and women who sacrifice for others on Veteran's Day?  Or how about taking a day of the year and giving public and collective thanks to Him for all of His provision on Thanksgiving Day?

But when we think of Halloween, not merely in its origin, but also in its current representations...does this holiday stand for anything that is remotely virtuous, honorable, or acceptable to God?  

According to thefreedictionary.com the word celebrate means "to observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing."

Do you think God celebrates this holiday of which the founder of the Church of Satan said, "After one's own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht (May 1st) and Halloween" (LaVey, Anton Szandor. The Satanic Bible, p. 96)?

Before I continue, let me make three brief clarifications:

1. Pumpkins, candy, and costume parties are not inherently evil.
2. Celebrating Halloween is not the same thing as worshiping the devil.
3. Some Christians who genuinely love God see no problem with trick-or-treating and Halloween celebrations.

Would you, however, consider the following Biblical principles?

1. We are not to fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but reprove them (Eph. 5:11).
2. We are to keep a clear distinction between that which is good and evil. (Isa. 5:20).
3. Fools make a mock at sin (Prov. 14:9).
4. We are to hate evil (Psalm 97:10).
5. We are to walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8).
6. We are not to take pleasure in the sins of others (Rom. 1:32).

Finally, God instructs us to "prove all things".  Furthermore, upon Biblical examination, we are to "hold fast that which is good" and "abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:21-22).

In all honesty, does Halloween give off an appearance of evil?  And if it does, then shouldn't we be "avoiding" such a holiday?

So what should a Christian do if he feels convicted against celebrating Halloween?

Consider these suggestions:

1. Don't decorate for Halloween.  Decorating for Autumn is fine, but don't deck your halls with jack-o-lanterns, witches, skeletons, cob webs, and a black & orange color scheme.  Try autumnal wreaths, corn stalks, pumpkins, and a horn of plenty.

2. Don't go to Halloween parties.  You should express thanks for the invitation but courteously decline.  

Think about it: You wouldn't expect a Muslim or Jew to attend a Christmas party, would you?  And you wouldn't expect Christian parents to encourage their children to join in the celebrations of Hanukkah and Ramadan, would you?

3. Don't watch horror movies.  

4. Don't send your children out trick-or-treating.

5. Do spend the evening of October 31st with your family and friends in the Lord.  

Your church might have a special gathering or a Family Fun Night.  Or, mom and dad might choose to take the kids out for a fun night of Chucky Cheese's and bowling.  Rather than participating in the customary Halloween traditions, decide upon something that is clearly distinct.

6. If you would like to host a costume party for your children, do it at a different time of year.  

If your child's birthday happens to fall upon the Halloween season, perhaps have a "family" party on his actual birthday, and plan for a costume party with friends at a later date, perhaps after Thanksgiving.  This would be a great teaching opportunity, as well as something to which your child can anticipate with eagerness.

The world is getting worse.  The church is traveling down the road of compromise faster now than ever before.  And confusion plagues the youth of today's generation.  Young people lack the discernment to know right from wrong, truth from error, and good from evil.  

Let's help our children and the next generation to understand God, His character, and His Word.  

Let's be sure to "come out from among them and be separate" (II Cor. 6:17).  

And let's be sure to "prove all things, hold fast that which is good, and abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:21-22).

Friday, October 12, 2012

The House of the Righteous Shall Stand

"The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand." 
Proverbs 12:7

It used to be said that the typical American parent wanted for his children that they would be happy, prosperous, and successful, and that their children would "have it better" than they had it.

I think any normal parent still wants these same things for his children, but as Christians, we know that the means by which we attain these things (happiness, prosperity, and success) is very different from that which the world promotes.

The world says wealth.  The world says fame.  The world says power.  The world says comfort and ease.

The world promises that if you attain one or more of these things, you will be happy, prosperous, and successful.  She has indoctrinated us to believe that these things are the purpose for which we live and the ultimate goal to be achieved.

But I want my house to stand--that's what I want!

All around us, families are crumbling.  Abuse.  Violence.  Unfaithfulness.  Cheating.  Drugs.  Lies and deceit.  Godlessness.  Greed.  Anger and hatred.  Confusion.  Depression.  Anxiety.  Fear.

These are the words that describe the overwhelmingly increasing percentage of American "families" in the 21st century.

But I want my family to stand.

What a deeply sad tragedy to see the vast majority of families crumbling in a nation that has all the necessary resources to ensure their success!

America has the heritage--the infrastructure--the foundation--to make her families flourish like they did generations ago.  But the American family is crumbling...breaking...dissolving.

But I want my children to stand.

The principles of the Bible teach us the ways of wisdom.  And the ways of wisdom--true wisdom--God's wisdom--ensure solid footing and the strength to stand!

Let's teach our children how to live righteously.  Let's teach them to work hard, to tell the truth, and the keep their word.  Let's model for them an example of moral integrity and marital faithfulness that they might follow our lead.  Let's point them to the Word of God as they learn to make decisions, and by obeying God's Word ourselves, let's prove to them that it's always best to follow God even when we don't understand Him.  Let's remind our children that sin and wickedness should never be a part of our entertainment and leisure.  Let's be sure to give them love, and teach them to love.  Let's keep God preeminent in our homes.

God's promise to us is that if righteousness prevails in our house, our house will stand.  Come what may, a righteous family will stand.  Despite persecution.  Despite economic collapse.  If our children will learn to do right, they will stand.

Some day, I hope to look back on my life and see that my marriage stood.  I hope to see that my family didn't crumble, but that it stood.  I hope to see that my children weren't whisked away by the seduction of this world, but that they stood.  That my house would stand--that's what I want!

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." 
(Matthew 7:24-25)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Stedfast Face

"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, 
he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." 
Luke 9:51

What is the quality that causes a man, not only to start a project, but to finish a project?

What is the quality that causes a missionary, not only to go the field, but to stay on the field?

What is the quality that causes a Christian, not only to sense God's calling, but to fulfill God's calling on his life?


To be stedfast means to be firm...constant...immoveable.  Consider the lyrics of the hymn, "We Have an Anchor":

We have an anchor that keeps the soul,
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep, in the Savior's love!

When Jesus knew it was His time to be received up to Jerusalem, He "stedfastly set His face."  He pre-determined that nothing was going to stop Him, get in His way, distract Him, or cause Him to change His mind or compromise.  He was committed to fulfilling the purpose of God no matter what!

It's amazing to think of what it meant in the mind of Jesus to "go to Jerusalem."  What did that entail?  What would transpire at Jerusalem?  The answer is revealed to us in Luke 18:31-34:

"Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:  And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.  And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken."

The call of God on your life may be difficult, frightening, unpopular, or even seemingly impossible.  But we must remember that God is faithful.  

He will never leave us.
He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.
His Word will not return void.
He will enable us to perform His will.
And in the end, we will reap if we faint not!

Have you stedfastly "set your face" to fulfill God's calling on your life?  

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 
(I Corinthians 15:58)

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Bitter Aftertaste

"But her end is bitter..."
(Proverbs 5:4)

We must always remember "the end" of sin, especially with regard to the sin of immorality.

By "the end" I mean the end results.  Sin propositions us with promises of pleasure. Smooth and sweet are the adjectives that we can see on the surface (Prov. 5:3); but "in the end" we discover that "smooth" and "sweet" were merely facades, covering up for that which was bitter and sharp. When faced with temptation we must consider "the end". 

What happens in "the end" for those who yield to temptation (viz., sexual temptation)? 

"Her end is bitter" - Bitterness is a seemingly unbearable emotional hurt; it's when you hate your life and wish it could all be different. 


"Sharp as a two-edged sword" - The end of immoral pleasure in painful and deep, like a deep wound from a two-edged sword. 

It's not how you start the game that matters; it's how you end!  How the game ends is what determines the long-lasting feelings of emotion that follow you into the future.  

Everyone likes a happy ending.  Even when things don't start off so well, the old saying is remains true, "All is well that ends well."

But there are millions of people who are plagued with an "end" that feels like a fate worse than death.  Their "end" is the end of bitterness and regret.  

The "end" of sexual sin and unfaithfulness includes: shame, addiction, divorce, hatred, broken families, distrust, fear, bondage, disease, and a reproach that is never wiped away. Who would want their life to end with these consequences?

No one desires to end with a life of regret.  Yet very few ponder "the end" before they start playing with the fire of temptation.

Let's never forget that sin will take you farther than you want to go; it will leave you longer than you want to stay; and it will cost you more than you want to pay!

"O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" (Deuteronomy 32:29)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Then Opened He Their Understanding...

"Then opened He their understanding..."
(Luke 24:45)

Jesus had explained to His disciples that "first He must suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation" (Luke 17:25) before He would come in glory to triumph over His enemies.

He told them in Luke 18:31-33 that He would be delivered unto the Gentiles, mocked, spitted on, scourged, and put to death; but on the third day, He would rise again.

Interestingly, in the following verse, the Bible tells us that the disciples "understood none of these things" (Luke 18:34).

You see, the disciples had been hoping and expecting that the "kingdom of God should immediately appear" (Luke 19:11).  They didn't understand that there was a greater plan than that which they perceived.  There was a greater purpose that had to be accomplished; and to their confusion and dismay (and later on, even to their disillusionment), Jesus explained that, before there could be glory and victory, there must first be suffering and sacrifice.

We today understand, looking back, that if the Lord hadn't suffered and sacrificed His life on Calvary, there would have been no salvation--not for the Gentiles, nor for the Jews, nor for us, nor for the Twelve.  "Thus it behoved (i.e., was necessary) Christ to suffer..." (Luke 24:46).

But at the time, they didn't understand.

So often, we become confused and dismayed about the suffering we face in this life.  We look around and see the wicked prospering; we are told by so-called Bible teachers that if we have enough faith God will bless us with prosperity and ease; and we have it settled in our minds what we sense God should do.  Moreover, in all of this, we face suffering, affliction, loneliness, persecution, betrayal, mockery, wrongful chastisement, abandonment, struggle...and sometimes even death.

After Jesus rose from the grave, He showed Himself unto His disciples, and in Luke 24:45, we read, "Then opened He their understanding..."

Upon seeing the risen Christ, all of a sudden, the disciples finally understood!

The suffering was temporary! 
The suffering was necessary! 
And the subsequent victory was glorious!

Let us remember that the Lord's plan for our lives often follows the pattern of His own life.

There will be suffering.  But afterward, it will come to pass that we will rejoice in triumphant victory!

"And it came to pass...they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen." (Luke 24:51-53)