Month: March 2014

Sharing the Gospel Never Returns Void

In the spring of 1992, a fourth-grade class from Portland, Maine was being taught about ocean currents. During one lesson, their teacher, Pamela Trieu, spoke about the Gulf Stream and how it flows along the East Coast and rotates around Europe.

After the lesson, the kids came up with an innovative idea. They exclaimed, “Let’s write some messages, throw them into the ocean, and see if the currents drift them to another country.” After the students convinced their teacher, they put messages with their addresses in empty bottles and a fisherman took the twenty-one bottles and threw them into the ocean.

Three months later, two of the bottles washed up in Canada. The class heard nothing else, lost hope, and assumed the other bottles were lost at sea. Two years later, one of the students, Geoff Hight, received an unexpected letter from a girl in Pornichet, France. She stated, “While I was walking with my Father on the beach, I found one of your bottles washed up along the shore. Thanks for the message!”

Isn’t that incredible? Our efforts of evangelism are like throwing a bottle with a message into the ocean. We share the gospel with friends, co-workers, and neighbors through personal evangelism only to feel like the message was not clear or “lost at sea.” Then the Lord surprises us. We find out that the person we interacted with gives their life to the Lord years after sharing the good news.

The Lord promises us that His message won’t return void. “ For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will my word be which goes forth from my mouth; it will not return to me empty (Isa. 55:10-11).” Don’t give up sharing your faith because the Lord promises it won’t return void. God bless!

The Epidemic of Violence is Ravaging Our Nation

On March 22nd, 2014 between 7 and 10 PM, Louisville Metro Police Department received a phone call concerning disorderly behavior on the Waterfront Bridge in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Chief of Police Steve Conrad said there were a total of 17 incidents, 5 robberies, 4 assaults, and the rest criminal mischief from a mob of 200 teenagers.

The violence began when a man at the Waterfront Bridge stepped in to keep a 13 year old girl from being robbed, and the mob turned on him, badly injuring him. The teen mob was also attacking other innocent civilians on the bridge. Jean Henry said in an interview that she and her husband Jim, 61, were on the bridge with their granddaughters when they knocked down Jim and started kicking him. He kept yelling stop and they fled away. A few minutes later, the same group of teenagers passed again and started mocking the family while their granddaughters were crying.

Next, the mob of teens headed downtown and stormed a local convenience store; the Bader’s Food Mart. When they walked in, the store clerk was attempting to hold them back. The teens knocked the man on the floor and began punching him in the head several times. The suspects then took $100 worth of food in the store and left to inflict more havoc on Louisville citizens.

One woman, who was parked near the Food Mart, was assaulted by the same group of teens. They threw trash cans at her car, jumped and kicked on her car, and then punched her several times in the head in front of her kids who were passengers in that car.

Police are still trying to figure out what caused the violence and hope witnesses and information extracted from social media will bring light to this situation.

This is just one example of many that prove there is an epidemic of violence ravaging our nation. It’s happening in small towns, big cities, with young teenagers, older folks, and different ethnic groups. Sadly, violence is part of everyday life. It’s in our movies, television shows, video games. We live in a world inundated by it.

As Christians, it is time we stand up against violence and let the world know about the love, mercy, and grace found in Jesus Christ. Here are passages from the Bible that adamantly oppose violence. Meditate on these verses and please share your thoughts below.

“Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways (Prov. 3:31).”

“Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders, you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise (Isa. 60:18).”

Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword (Matt. 26:52).”

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March Madness Makes Mad Money

Did you know the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament generated a revenue of over $1 billion last year? That’s more profit than the NBA playoffs, the NFL post-season, the World Series, and the NHL Stanley Cup.

To get a personal visual, the NCAA makes more money in just a few weeks than the annual income of 25,856 of your friends and you combined. Guess how much money the players get? None. Zippo. Not-a-thing.

While the players are running up and down the courts sweating, bumping elbows and risking injuries, hitting free throws they practiced several hours a week for the last year, the bureaucrats of the sports world are on the sidelines eating nachos and making all the profit. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? I am a firm believer that “those who work deserve their pay (1 Tim. 5:18).”

You may exclaim: “They’re already getting a scholarship plus room and board paid for! Shouldn’t that be enough? Don’t be greedy!” Before you jump to hasty conclusions, look at the facts. On average, a full Division 1 scholarship is $25,000 per year. It seems like a lot, but let’s break it down.

First, money is spent solely on books, classes, housing, and meal plans. Therefore, the student athlete never generates any income. Also, the athlete is susceptible to injury. If he gets hurt, one call from the office will send this athlete away with nothing but the weight of student loans.

Second, players from low-income households resort to Pell Grants because they don’t have extra money to spend on groceries. I had a friend in college who was a student athlete and worked part-time at the university cafeteria. How is he supposed to enjoy his life when he commits to practicing 4 hours a day, attend classes, study, and work a few hours just for pocket change? I am not asking that we pay the student athletes like the pros. I suggest paying the student athlete $5,000 a year. This would give them some spending cash and an opportunity to start managing their money.

Third, top NCAA executives make at least $1 million per year. Guess who else makes money off these near-professional level athletes? Their own coaches. That’s right. The average coach earns at least $100,000 a year (The highest paid college basketball coach Rick Pitino, from the University of Louisville, makes $8.9 million a year). Don’t you at least think some of that money should be placed into the pockets of the athletes? Aren’t they the #1 reason why we pay to watch?

Although the NCAA is a non-profit organization, I believe billions of dollars are made off the blood, sweat, and determination of young men and women whose efforts are exploited to increase profit margin. As a Christian, I believe the love of money can distort a person’s worldview and hinder their integrity (1 Tim. 6:10). It is my hope that the NCAA recognizes this dilemma and is open to the idea of changing their philosophy in the years to come.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Planning Priorities and Goals in an Age of Distraction

Did you know that $650 billion dollars are lost annually in productivity because of workplace distractions? Workplace Options, a company that specializes in evaluating productivity in the work force, conducted a study and found that the top 5 distractions were: Technology (e-mails, social media, and voice-mails), personnel, surroundings (co-workers, loud environment) unproductive meetings, and celebrations.

This does not surprise me. Just today I was communicating with an employer about an upcoming project. Halfway through our conversation, my phone began beeping on my desk.  A couple of seconds later, it beeped again. I had to literally turn my phone off to avoid being distracted.

This problem is an epidemic in our culture. Statistics show that an average worker starts a project and spends 11 seconds on it before being distracted. Then it takes 25 additional minutes before he or she can get back on task. How do we avoid this dilemma? Here are 3 practical steps that I believe will help us become more efficient at our job.

  1. Prioritize your day. Before you go into work, write a list of 10 tasks you want to get accomplished and rank them in order of importance. Why? So that you complete the most pertinent jobs first and get ahead of schedule instead of trying to accomplish all of them at once without any direction.
  2. If you have to work on your computer to get the project done, but social media is tempting you, turn off the internet. This will prevent you from browsing Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and other websites that decrease your productivity.
  3. Find another employee that will keep you accountable to your goals. This will benefit your productivity and the employees, bringing a positive change to the company’s working environment. Let’s be honest. Many of us don’t even have the discipline to workout at the gym on a regular basis, but we know our chances increase exponentially if someone keeps us accountable to our physical health. Shouldn’t we swallow our pride and apply this to the business world?

Top 5 Least Evangelical Countries in the World

5. Yemen – Located in Western Asia, the Republic of Yemen is in the Arabian peninsula, borders the Gulf of Eden, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea. It ranks as the 50th largest country in the world at 203,850 square miles. The top 3 languages spoken are Arabic, Hindi, and Somalian. There are approximately 24.5 million people living there, of which 99.2% are Muslim.

How to Pray:  (1) The Human Rights Watch ranked Yemen worst out of 135 countries for discrimination and violence against women. Pray that the governing officials and male chauvinists would turn from their wicked ways and treat women with dignity, respect, and love. (2) Yemen was once known for trading coffee, but now the country has resorted to growing Khat, a flowering plant that acts as a stimulant, produces mild-to-moderate psychological dependence, and is classified by the WHO (World Health Organization) as drug of abuse. An estimated 80% of the adult population chew it, causing negative effects on productivity, social stability, and family life. Pray that God would help these people overcome their addictions through the power of the Holy Spirit.

4. Morocco – Located in the Northwest corner of Africa, this country is adjacent to both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Inland, It is surrounded by the Atlas mountains in the north and Sahara Desert in the south. The top three languages are Arabic, Berber, and French. The Muslim population dominates this country with 99.88% of the population (32,738,475).

How to Pray – (1) The rural Moroccan Arabs are the majority people group, but they are particularly unreached and isolated from the gospel. Pray that brave missionaries will go to this uncharted people group and proclaim the message of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (2) Spending on healthcare only accounted for 5.19% of the country’s GDP. This means that for every 10,000 inhabitants, only 6 physicians and 9 nurses are available. Pray that God would send more doctors to help supply this demand and pray for leaders in this country to invest in education and healthcare for the future.

3. San Marino – Located on the Italian Peninsula on the northeastern side of the Apennine mountains, this Republic is considered a sovereign nation with a population of 32,448 people. The official language is Italian. Based on the Operation World statistics, only 4 people are considered to be evangelical.

How to Pray (1) The Sammarinese are Catholic by tradition, but are known by others as a materialistic people. They are considered one of the wealthiest countries in the world, have a highly stable economy, and one of the lowest unemployment rates. Pray they wouldn’t rely solely on finance for their comfort, but turn to the living God to experience true love and joy that money can’t buy.

2. Tunisia – This country is located between Algeria and Libya, and is in the northernmost central part of Africa. It is mountainous and very agricultural. The official language is Arabic, but French and English are widely used. There are 10 million people, of which 99.37& are Muslim, 0.22% are Christians, and 0.001% are Evangelicals (1,154).

How to Pray – (1) A number of Salafist Islamic groups have destroyed artistic expression that is viewed to be hostile to Islam. Pray that the right of freedom of expression would be valued and God would open up the door for democracy. (2) Missionary effort in the past has opened the door for change. Pray that future missionaries would learn the Arabic language so they can speak the words of truth to the Tunisians in their own native language.

1. Turkey – Located between two continents: Europe and Asia, and two important bodies of water, the Black and Mediterranean Sea. Its been a strategic position since the beginning of time. The official language is Turkish, but there are over 45 different languages spoken in this country alone! Out of a population of 75.7 million, only 7,000 are considered to be evangelicals.

How to Pray(1) There has been much violence and persecution towards Christian in the past. For instance, in 2006 a Catholic priest was murdered and in 2007 Turkish Christians in Malayta were tortured and murdered by radical Islamists. Pray that God would give courage and trust amidst the social ostracism, harassment by security forces, and violent persecution. (2) Reaching the younger generation is important because over 60% of the population is under 28 years old. Pray that God would raise up a young Daniel to revive the hearts of the next generation.