Reformation Day

Tonight in the U.S., many will be celebrating Halloween. So much focus will be on candy, costumes, & celebration of ghoulishness. Unfortunately, all this tends to obscure a day which should be much more significant for Christians than it tends to be.

October 31, 2016 is the 499th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. The Lord used Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses to the door of the church to spark a movement among Christians to return to the Bible as the final authority on religious matters and to the understanding that salvation is by faith in Christ, not in one’s good works. The legacy of this return to the biblical scriptures is hard to overestimate. Indeed, we are still enjoying the fruit of this movement to this very day. The foundation of so much that we take for granted was laid by the biblical teaching of the Reformers. The arts, political theories and institutions, economic development, and greater spiritual understanding all advanced greatly because of the Reformation.

The foundational ideas of the Reformation were summarized in the 5 “solas” or “alones”:

Solus Christus (Christ alone), Sola Gratia (salvation through grace alone), Sola Fide (justification through faith alone), Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone as our final authority), and Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory).

While these ideas have continued to influence Evangelical Christianity to our own day, as I work with Christian young people from around the world, I see evidence of a great drift away from these roots, especially regarding the centrality of scripture. (See previous blog post from August 15 regarding “drift”.) As author Os Guinness so clearly stated in his book, Prophetic Untimeliness: “A great part of the evangelical community has transferred authority from Sola Scriptura to Sola Cultura.” (p. 65)

Indeed, our current post-modern culture seems to have more influence on our thinking than does the Bible. Decades ago, Harry Blamires opined that, “Except over a very narrow field of thinking, chiefly touching questions of strictly personal conduct, we Christians in the modern world accept, for the purpose of mental activity, a frame of reference constructed by the secular mind and a set of criteria reflecting secular evaluations. There is no Christian mind; there is no shared field of discourse in which we can move at ease as thinking Christians by trodden ways and past established landmarks” (The Christian Mind, 1963). If that was an assessment in the 1960’s, where are we now?

Sadly, we have allowed the intellectual influences in Western culture to be dominated by secular humanists or those espousing Eastern Philosophy. And as these influences shape culture, the basis of many believers’ faith has come to be based on experience rather than based on the truth of the Word. Without having one’s faith anchored in the truth as revealed to us by God, doctrine and theological beliefs are often decided upon based on the feelings received by a given teaching or dynamic teacher. Thus, by conforming to the thinking patterns of the world, many Christians have blended false religious and philosophical ideas with their Christian faith.

Do we even have enough reference points to recognize how far we have strayed from a biblical view of the world? (Some have found the following worldview assessment helpful: http://www.minipeers.com)

As pollster, George Barna, suggests, “Without a biblical worldview, all the great teaching goes in one ear and out the other. There are no intellectual pegs… in the mind of the individual to hang these truths on. So they just pass through. They don’t stick. They don’t make a difference.” We urgently need another Reformation – a renewal of both the desire and the determination to relearn and to reaffirm how the Bible applies to all of life. In addition, we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to live on the basis of this truth.

Here at YWAM Maui, we introduce our students to the Biblical Christian Worldview as integral to their discipleship. Our goal is to build foundations for the next generation in both the written Word and the Living Word. We strive to live by the truth of the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

This week, we will implement this goal in our School of Biblical Foundations & Missions by viewing the DVD series by Francis Schaeffer called, “How Should We Then Live?” It is a very insightful survey of the flow of Western thought that sheds much light on where we’ve come from, where we are now, and where we might be headed. A closing thought from Francis Schaeffer regarding the need for restoration of our foundations is worth contemplating:

Often men have acted as though one has to choose between reformation and revival. Some call for reformation, others for revival, and they tend to look at each other with suspicion. But reformation and revival do not stand in contrast to one another; in fact, both words are related to the concept of restoration. Reformation speaks of a restoration to pure doctrine, revival of a restoration in the Christian’s life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture, revival of a life brought into proper relationship to the Holy Spirit. The great moments of history have come when these two restorations have come simultaneously. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation, and reformation is not complete without revival. May we be those who know the reality of both reformation and revival, so that this poor dark world in which we live may have an exhibition of a portion of the church returned to both pure doctrine and a Spirit-filled life. ” (No Little People, 1974)

WE NEED BOTH REVIVAL AND REFORMATION.

One Nation Under God

This past Independence Day, I reflected on my family’s recent visit Washington D.C. It was a good time of connecting with our nation’s history while touring our nation’s capital.

However, as we viewed the founding documents and read the inscriptions at various memorials, a sense of loss and frustration mixed with the wonder of it all. How we wish that our current leaders would be required to visit these sites and take to heart the ideas and principles that gave this country its foundation. So much of what today is called, “progressive,” is actually hammering away at the very foundation of what brought us the blessings we so cherish and often take for granted. And we don’t even seem to realize it is happening.

Chiseled into the marble of the Thomas Jefferson memorial are these words,

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. That His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Let that sink in for a minute or so before you read on.

Moving on to the national archives, we came across this quote by Benjamin Franklin on display right next to the original Bill of Rights:

This will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.

Another quote by Franklin sounds like a prophecy, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.

Insightful statements from men whom some would call the least religious of America’s founding fathers.

Evidence of this understanding that the nation was once highly influenced by the precepts of the Bible are numerous. Here’s just a few more powerful statements by some of our other founding fathers:

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.” – George Washington, 1st president

The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity…

Those principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.” – John Adams, 2nd president

…the moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws… All the miseries and evils which men suffer from… proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” – Noah Webster

How did we go so wrong? How has the Bible’s influence in American society dwindled so dramatically? Some have suggested that the Christian church privatized their faith and allowed its influence to drift away from public life. Many would agree that we have drifted from our roots and are now out of touch with our heritage.

I recently heard a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley in which he attempts to answer the question of how we have wandered so far. He compares the gradual shift of our society away from its foundations to a boat that drifts down river. Drift, he says, happens when you don’t resist the current of the river.

Essentially, Stanley says, we have allowed ourselves to drift morally, spiritually, and biblically along with the rest of society.

For far too long, we have not been resisting the current of culture. We have been content to let the Spirit of the Age push the current downhill and often times we just drift along with it because it is so much easier than resisting. As a result, the foundations of our nation are being destroyed.

Psalm 11:3 says, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” That’s a good question. Maybe we can start by resisting the drift, going against the flow, and returning to our moorings.

Maybe God’s promise to the Israelites at the dedication of the temple has some instruction for us. In II Chronicles 7:14, God says, “ if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Road Trip

Chicago, Gettysburg, DC, Lewis/Tolkien We just finished our road trip which took us through Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Ohio and then back to Minnesota. Along the way, we were so blessed to visit family, YWAM colleagues & alumni, friends, supporters, YWAM D.C. (David’s Tent), and 3 college campuses (potentials for Tim). Tom shared about YWAM at one of our supporting churches and attended a board meeting for YWAM Akron. Along the 2,500+ mile journey, we also:

  • Stood in Billy Graham’s pulpit
  • Touched the desks of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Marveled at the view from the nation’s tallest building
  • Paid respects at Gettysburg
  • Sighted the Amish
  • Endured dental appointments
  • Viewed our nation’s founding documents
  • Toured the monuments of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Franklin Roosevelt around the mall in Washington DC
  • Witnessed senators debate gun control from the gallery
  • Prayed for justice at the doors of the Supreme Court building
  • Toured FBI HQ
  • Saw the first airplane

It was a memorable time of seeing so much of our national and spiritual heritage and connecting with so many wonderful people.

Now that we are back in Minnesota, Tim is doing an internship to fulfill his high school requirements for graduation.

What’s going on now?

We recently celebrated Hoku’s 45th birthday. Hoku has begun training to help out with our accounting department to be able to serve as a back up when needed.
Tom has been teaching less at other locations this year, although he has been blessed to partner with YWAM bases in Wyoming and other locations here in the islands. Elias is 10 years old and is just finishing up 4th grade. He loves riding his bike and watching episodes of the Andy Griffith Show. Our firstborn son, Timothy jusy finished his Jr. year of High School. He recently preached his first sermon to the youth service at Waipuna Chapel. He has his driver’s permit now and is as tall as his Dad! When did he turn into a young man? It is hard to believe that our son is already about to enter into his last year of high school!

Tim.Elias.VolcanosThis summer, we will be heading back to Minnesota to visit family, friends, and supporters and also to have some family vacation time. Part of the time will include going on a road trip out East. We will visit some potential colleges for Timothy and end up touring Washington D.C. While on the road trip we will connect with a supporting Church and also with family and friends along the way.

He Is Risen!

“1But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb… 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 …the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest…11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” – Luke 24:1-12

One of the great things about Resurrection Sunday, is that for many people, it is a time to pause, take a breath, step back from the worries of life and celebrate the most important event in Human History. But let us not forget the state of the world in which we are celebrating the Resurrection…

There is a deep sense of uncertainty and insecurity characterizes the world today. You can almost feel it in the air. Indeed, it is difficult to keep up with all the wars and violent conflicts that are erupting across the globe. In addition to this, many are predicting that the economy is heading in a disastrous direction.

In the midst of turmoil, people tend to look for someone who can solve the problems; for some institution or individual leader to provide answers. Often times, people have looked to the government for solutions to our most serious problems. Some form of socialism is seen by many to be the path to take. But more and more people are beginning to realize that governments are often part of the problem. The confidence they once had in the State is beginning to crumble.

Many years ago, I heard Ravi Zacharias tell the Story of Billy Graham meeting with the Chancellor of Germany, Konrad Adenauer, shortly after WWII. This political leader had the responsibility of picking up the pieces left by the most destructive war in history. He was tasked with trying to rebuild the nation that had been the cause of so much devastation and suffering.

During the course of their conversation, the Chancellor asked, “Mr. Graham, do you really believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” Billy Graham was unsure about where this question might be going. He thought about it briefly and then responded, “Mr. Chancellor, if I did not believe in the resurrection, I would have no gospel to preach.”

Let us pause from this story and think about the Chancellor’s question and Billy Graham’s answer.

First, consider the significance of the Chancellor’s question…
Ask it of yourself, “DO I REALLY BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST?” This is one of the most important questions that anyone can ask. “Do I actually believe that there was a man who lived 2,000 years ago in history, who died a terrible death on the cross, and then rose bodily on the 3rd day?” How you answer will determine the course of your life. Do you believe it? Or does it seem to you to be “an idle tale”?

Second, consider Billy Graham’s response to this question. “Yes, I believe in the Resurrection. If I didn’t I would have no good news to preach.”

Perhaps Mr. Graham was thinking of Paul’s radical claim that the Resurrection is the foundation of Christian Faith. In I Cor. 15:14 & 17, he says, “14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

For the Christian faith, everything hinges on this event. Christianity is not just a religion, a philosophy, a body of beliefs, or set of teachings. Christianity is rooted in the person and work of Jesus. It stands or falls on this question – Did Jesus rise from the dead or didn’t He?

Let’s come back to the natural inclination that many people have had through history to look to a political leader to save them or to solve their problems. This is not something new.

In the New Testament era, King Herod’s dynasty was very wealthy & powerful.
Herod the Great built the huge Herodian Fortress which can still be toured today. It was a marvelous feat of engineering and an imposing sight to behold. Herod’s mighty fortress casts a long shadow that falls across a small, seemingly insignificant town called Bethlehem. As Bible teacher Ray Vanderlaan suggests, in the early New Testament people would have looked to the Herodian Fortress and took notice of the power and wealth that it represented. But very few took notice of who was born in Bethlehem.

The people of Judea were looking for deliverance. Similar to today, there was a sense of fear and insecurity. They felt threatened by the Roman Empire. Perhaps they were looking to their leaders to provide solutions.
In this setting of political turmoil which marked first century Palestine, we find this interesting passage about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry: Luke 3:1-2

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”

Notice that this passage lists seven well known rulers of the time. But, they did not have the solutions to society’s problems. The word of God was not revealed to any of them. It was revealed to some odd guy named John who had no political titles and no official place of distinction. It was John who prepared the way for Jesus.

Hope does not come from governments, rulers, scientists, economists or other man-made institutions. In a tiny corner of the Great Roman Empire, literally in the shadow of a great king’s monument, a baby was born. He lived a perfect life. He claimed to be God. He suffered a terrible death. He proved his power and His authority as God through his miraculous resurrection from the dead.

The Roman Empire came to an end. Jesus is still alive.

Through His resurrection He brought life to the world.

The people of that generation wanted physical deliverance. But Christ first brings spiritual deliverance: He gives us new hearts & spiritual transformation. But it is from these individual transformations that comes societal transformation.

Let’s return to the story of Billy Graham and the German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. After Graham’s declaration of belief in the resurrection, the Chancellor walked over to a window overlooking the bombed out ruins of Berlin and said, “Mr. Graham, outside of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I know of no other hope for mankind.”

In this troubled generation that we live in, let us not forget that there is only one hope. We are not looking for deliverance or working toward freedom. Rather, we are fighting from a freedom and a victory that has already been accomplished through the resurrection of Jesus!

Just before He went to the cross, Jesus said to his disciples, “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” – John 14:19
Our only hope is in the resurrection of Jesus and the new life He offers.

We serve a Risen Lord. A living hope. HE’S ALIVE!

Graduation Week – Payday

What a wonderful week it has been!

YWAM.Maui.Ohana.March.2016.reduce

Staff, Students, and Volunteers of YWAM Maui. March 2016

The 5 outreach teams from the Fall schools have returned to Maui and have shared incredible testimonies of what God has done in Asia.  The whole week felt like a celebration of God’s work in and through the team members culminating in the graduation ceremony. I often think of these debriefing weeks as payday for our staff who get to hear the amazing stories and see the changes in the lives of the students. Most of the graduates are heading home to serve in their home churches, go to college, or pursue work in the marketplace. Some are feeling the nudge to return to YWAM Maui for either the School of Biblical Foundations & Missions or to join staff. All of the graduates expressed their desire to serve the Lord in whatever path they take. It is such a privilege be a part of what God is doing here.

Ready for Outreach

Susann.Victoria.Outreach This week, we are sending our outreach teams to the field. Team Bangladesh is already enroute and the other DTS teams will be heading to Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal, and another really big country in Asia.
The School of Biblical Foundations & Missions (SBFM) has 14 students this Fall and the outreach team will be going to the Philippines to primarily serve the ministry of Hope for the Island (www.hopefortheisland.org). This is a ministry pioneered and directed by long-term missionaries Derek & Jen Van Ryckeghem who were sent out from YWAM Maui in the late 90’s.

Another ministry that the team will be serving with is a women’s shelter that brings counseling and discipleship to women who’ve been rescued from sex-trafficking. We are privileged to be partnering with these ministries and look forward to hearing about the work of God through them.

In light of the recent political tensions around the world, there is a general sense of alert and two of our outreach nations, Bangladesh and the Philippines, currently have travel advisories/warnings. We so appreciate your specific prayers for the physical safety of our teams.

It’s been a special fall quarter because Tom’s nephew, Josh, is a student in the DTS and his niece, Megan, has returned for the SBFM. It has also been good serving with his cousin, Kent Badgero, who is on DTS staff and will be co-leading an outreach team for the next few months.

RZIM & YWAM

They now have more in common than being 2 ministries with 4 letter acronyms that end with “M”. This month, we were honored to have 2 speakers from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) come to YWAM. Dr. Andy Bannister, who is the Canadian director for RZIM, and Alycia Wood, RZIM itinerant speaker from Boston, both came to teach Apologetics in our 2 schools.

RZIM is perhaps the premier ministry in combining apologetics and evangelism and it was a fantastic opportunity to receive these team members and have them contribute to our training programs. This connection came about from a providential meeting in England a year and half ago between one of our alumni and Dr. Bannister. As they chatted, they both foresaw the mutual benefits of YWAM and RZIM coming together.

This is something that I (Tom) have been praying about for a long time: how to bring the strengths of a ministry like RZIM into the passion of the young people in YWAM. YWAM is good at raising up young evangelists and RZIM is great at training them to be effective.

As the communications began to move forward, we realized it would be very beneficial if we could host these speakers in a broader YWAM context than just our base in Maui. So, I contacted my friends at the University of the Nations in Kona (a much bigger YWAM base with about 800 people) and they set up sessions for the RZIM team to speak in some of the Kona training schools at the front end of the week before heading to YWAM Maui for the latter part of the week.

During the teaching time on Maui, a local church, Kahului Union Church, opened up their sanctuary for the RZIM members to give a talk on the “Problem of Evil” which was open to the public. On a very stormy night, the auditorium was full and the talk/Q&A was well received. A youth pastor who attended the event was so encouraged by the session that he asked Tom if he would teach apologetics at the island wide “Unashamed” youth camp which is held just before Christmas. We praise God for this significant opportunity to equip the Christian youth of the island to be more confident in their faith and to be more effective at sharing it with others.

Summer Update

I’m writing this from the YWAM base on the neighboring island of Oahu. It is an honor to have been invited to teach in the Korean DTS on the topic of Bible Overview and Biblical Worldview. 2 weeks ago, I was at YWAM’s University of the Nations base in Kona teaching on Worldview. These have been my first teaching venues outside of Maui since last November.

Back on Maui, our staff are enjoying the final week of a 3 week Summer break. On Monday, we start back up again as staff in preparing for the Fall schools. We are excited to have our DTS full with 38 students and the SBFM has 14 students. It’s going to be a special fall quarter because Tom’s nephew, Josh, is a student in the DTS and his niece, Megan, has returned for the SBFM.

Reformation Generation

“The average Christian does not realize that there is an intellectual war going on in the universities and in the professional journals and scholarly societies. Christianity is being attacked from all sides as irrational or outmoded, and millions of students, our future generation of leaders, have absorbed this viewpoint. This is a war which we cannot afford to lose…” – William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 1994

Heading off to university can be a shock. The new social & moral pressures are difficult enough. When these are added to the barrage of intellectual attacks undermining Christianity, many young Christians struggle to maintain their faith and many others abandon it.

Many young believers struggle in their spiritual walk because they have unanswered questions. They may have grown up in Christian homes or they may have had an encounter with God; their hearts were touched by the love of Christ and they accepted Him as Lord and Savior. But after time, life’s hardships tarnish the luster of early emotions and the difficult questions begin knocking on the door. “How can a good God allow so much pain and suffering?” “Why did God command killing in the Old Testament?” “Is the Bible reliable?” These may be questions of their own or questions asked by non-believers for which they have no response. Often times, people who’ve been raised in Christian homes go through a questioning season when their Christianity transitions from resting on the faith of their parents to becoming that of their own.

The tragedy is that some of these searching Christians, perhaps many more than we would like to admit, eventually come to the conclusion that maybe Christianity doesn’t have answers… and thus, maybe it is not true. This move may not be out of rebellion but out of an intellectually honest quest for the truth. Many of these losses happen when Christians are in their college years, when young believers are thrown from the safety of the Christian community and into the “outside world” where the typical answers no longer hold up to scrutiny.

How many these Christians walk away from their faith during their time at university? It’s difficult to say specifically. Some surveys have put it between 50%-70% and one denomination realized they were losing nearly 90% of their young people who attend secular universities. These statistics have burdened us for a long time and we felt led to do something about it.

Tonight at YWAM Maui, we will have opening night for our college prep seminar, “Reformation Generation.” The goal of this 4 week program is to prepare university students to not only survive spiritually but to thrive in their faith during these crucial years of education. We address the difficult questions which are raised against Christianity; we apply the critical thinking skills needed to recognize false assumptions; and we develop the spiritual disciplines needed to keep relationship with Christ at the center.

Please be in prayer for the participants who have come from the US and Canada. Pray that God would use this time to prepare them to be a generation of reformers.

http://ywammaui.org/index.php/reformationgenerationseminar

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