In 1967 Albania was declared the world’s first atheistic state. Every church, mosque, synagogue, and temple were closed and converted into secular meeting places. Religious leaders were publicly humiliated. Today, Albania is a secular state and religious freedom is allowed. Many people and organizations have stepped forward to preach the Gospel and renew this country which was devastated by Communist rule, and we have been excited to be part of this renewal.
This Wednesday, December 17, our brothers and sisters in Christ at Radio 7 in Tirana, Albania will host a Christmas outreach. Among their many activities will be the distribution of 1000 copies of our video The Renewal of All Things in the Albanian language. They will also reach out into neighboring Kosovo which is ethnically 95% Albanian.
Radio 7 is also translating our video into Serbian, Greek, and Macedonian for future distribution. Please join us in prayer that God would use this video mightily to reach multitudes for Christ in these southeastern European countries.
Don’t wait! Please take one minute right now and lift this up to the Lord. Thank you!
Have you seen the video? It begins this way: “Why? Why is there so much sorrow and sadness in the world? It was not always this way but it became this way through the ‘Great Catastrophe.'” Watch now and learn how God worked throughout history to restore mankind to its original purpose through his promises to Abraham and his descendants and through the work of his greatest son, Jesus of Nazareth.
When people hear the stories of Jesus in their emotional depth they are often much more open to the life-changing truth contained in those stories. This is why I created Stories of the Master and tell his stories throughout the world. One of my favorites is from Luke 7 where the woman wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Over a century ago, a great commentator said, “This story is to be wept over as much as studied and explained.” I agree.
This Saturday, December 13, from 1-3pm I will be at Viva Bookstore at the Viva Galleria at 8407 Broadway in San Antonio. In addition to a book signing for The Women Jesus Loved, I will give a talk on Jesus and Women, and will give a dramatic presentation of the story, “The Woman Who Wept at His Feet.”
You will see many kinds of books on many kinds of “spirituality” at Viva Bookstore. We are glad to introduce the truth of Jesus and be a witness for him as I share the story of “The Woman Who Wept at His Feet,” and give a brief talk on Jesus’ revolutionary love for women. Please join us!
If you live in the San Antonio area, please join me and bring your friends. If you cannot make it, please pray that God would use this time to spread his word.
Thank you for your prayers!
Chapter One of The Women Jesus Loved – “The Woman Who Wept at His Feet,” is now available for order for only $5. This small booklet tells the story of a woman burdened by sin and set free by Jesus’ love. It provides a great taste of the entire book and is an excellent way to introduce your friends to all the stories of Jesus.
My friend Scott Freeman has written and illustrated an award winning book called Naomi’s Gift. Call me sentimental, but every time I read it, I get choked up. You will be touched also when you read it for yourself, and so I am very happy to recommend Naomi’s Gift to you this Christmas.
Scott and Mollie Freeman are graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute. They have raised five children and live in Loveland, CO. They love Christ and use their God-given talents to expand the kingdom of God. Like Narmin Backus who we talked about in a recent blog and who is reaching her Azeri people with art, dance, song, and storytelling, Scott and Mollie use their grace-given talents to visualize the beauty of our King and his kingdom.
Scott and Mollie have branched into creating beautifully illustrated children’s books that help you reinforce a biblical worldview in your children. Reading great stories to your small children is one of the best ways to instill a biblical worldview in their hearts and minds. Big Picture Publishing is committed to help you normalize and reinforce spiritual truths and realities revealed in the Bible.
Please go to their website to learn more about this great ministry.
People with great talent such as Scott and Mollie, who love the Lord, and who can articulate their kingdom of God faith are rare in this world. Scott and Mollie are a treasure in God’s great family. Please pray for them. Visit their website and learn more about their ministry. Tell others about them and purchase their children’s books for your children and grandchildren. It is a privilege to be associated with them in God’s great kingdom plan for the world.
Would you like to hear Naomi’s Gift? Saturday,December 6, you can call 712.432.7146 and listen on your phone or go to WGSradio.com to hear this wonderful story for the whole family.
Do you know where Azerbaijan is? It sounds like an exotic, faraway place and it is for us in the West but God has been working mightily in this land in many ways.
First Programs for Azerbaijan
In recent weeks I have had the privilege of becoming acquainted with Global Heart Ministries which focuses on outreach to Central Asia. They have just finished taping 13 television shows for Azerbaijan featuring Narmin Backus and her art, singing, and dancing. These programs are the first Christian programming for the people of this great nation and we rejoice with them!
I invite you to watch this 3-minute promo spot for their television shows. This spot is provided with English translation.
Getting to Know Narmin
I have had the privilege of getting to know Narmin. She loves the Lord with all her heart and wants to reach her people with the Gospel. Narmin teaches art at a Christian school in Houston and is fluent in English, Azerbaijani, and Russian. She is reading The Women Jesus Loved and has been deeply touched by it. She also loves the video The Renewal of All Things and has started translating it for her people to hear the Gospel.
Please pray for Narmin’s ministry to her people and pray that her translation work for WGS will result in multitudes hearing the Gospel and coming to Christ.
Word of God, Speak!
Your prayer and financial partnership enable us to provide resources for people like Narmin and countries like Azerbaijan. Thank you for your help! To donate to WGS, please click here to help spread the Gospel in Azerbaijan and other countries.
I’ve never been a Joel Osteen basher. Years ago I listened to some of his messages and was uplifted by them. At the end he invited people to embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Yet, the video below where Victoria Osteen gives a brief exhortation is a great illustration of what happens when anyone divorces Jesus from the story line in which he lived, acted, and proclaimed his message of the kingdom.
Jesus is very popular all around the world – unfortunately – many people have the wrong Jesus. In our world we can find a Hindu Jesus, a Muslim Jesus, a Mormon Jesus, a New Age Jesus, and in this ministry, a self-help, therapeutic Jesus who exists to help us be all we can be. It’s not that these people are crazy. I’m not even sure I would call them evil. It is that they, along with so many others, have lifted Jesus out of the story line of Scripture (the kingdom of God) and placed him within another story line. In my next book, Changing the Stories of the World, coming out in November of this year, I address this very important point – we must recapture the story line of Scripture in order to avoid such nonsense. We must learn and retell The Story accurately. We must recover the “kingdom of God Jesus” – or we open ourselves to delusion and deception.
A few weeks ago I read an article in Christianity Today magazine on how issuing forgiveness to other people is the new hot topic. Everyone is talking about it including the secular doctors of psychology and medicine – Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz – and many others. The “buzz-phrase” is “do yourself a favor and forgive others,” or “forgiveness is about you.” Well, that is partly true. When we choose to forgive we do free ourselves. Yes! Of course! That is a good thing. The article, however, showed that this a side product and not the biblical emphasis. The biblical emphasis is, “Forgive others just as God has forgiven you.” The primary reason we forgive others is that we have been forgiven. This biblical emphasis keeps God at the center. The new emphasis we hear in churches and on pop psychology TV puts man at the center – do it for yourself.
This is yet another form of idolatry. Anytime we put anyone or anything at the center, we become idolaters. The video of the Osteens is unfortunately another example of Western idolatry.
I didn’t watch the video. The news was sickening enough of the latest atrocity by ISIS. Why the title, then? Glorious beheading? Because the executioner, no doubt, is being celebrated in many quarters today. He is seen as a glorious man. He sees himself this way. Let me explain.
In the ancient world, what constituted manhood and glory was very different from our world. Thomas Cahill, in his book, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, says:
“Where modern historians count the casualties and detect cruelty and inhumanity, the ancients saw only glory. Public action – that is, by war and conquest – was the most dangerous and, in consequence, the most noble of all human endeavors.” Using Alexander as an example, Cahill continued, “If Plato was the measure of all subsequent philosophy and Phidias of all attempts to carve a man in marble, Alexander was, therefore, ‘the Great,’ the greatest man who had ever lived … the measure of man himself.”
Alexander was the man who, upon taking command of his deceased father’s armies, slaughtered the inhabitants of Thebes, pulled down the city, and enslaved any survivors because they did not want him to reign over them. I’m sure many people were beheaded. It was a glorious endeavor for Alexander – although, of course the Thebans would not have agreed. Then, after settling this “dispute” about who was in charge, he set out to conquer the world because … well … that is what real men do.
It is this type of thinking that controlled the executioner – visions of nobility and glory. It is this type of thinking that pervades ISIS. It is a holdover from the ancient world and wedded to Islam, which, according to its founder, has as its goal the forcible takeover over the world by the sword if people will not submit, which, by the way, is what the word “Islam” means. Islam is ancient thinking.
This is what makes the message of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom, so remarkable. In a world entrenched with a wrong vision of manhood and glory, even among his own people, Jesus pointed to a new destiny and walked a new path. It undercut, completely, the dominant worldview and vision of every nation in his day, including his own. Predictably, both Roman and Jewish rulers did not like his message and executed their worldview against Jesus, literally, by nailing him to a cross. So much for humility, so much for servanthood, so much for mercy, so much for going the extra mile and praying for those who oppress you. Jesus’ new vision of glory and manhood was obliterated … until the third day when God raised him and enthroned him at his right hand as the true Lord of heaven and earth.
The way of thinking that led to the beheading of James Foley will be with us until the better idea of manhood and glory takes hold deep within the hearts of people and nations. It must change underlying worldviews and ideas of destiny and glory. Cahill concluded that the wrong way of thinking continues “to infect the brains of all those who take up weapons of destruction in what they believe to be a noble cause. Indeed, down the whole course of history, the invincible warrior with raised sword has been the archetypal hero of the human race.”
The world needs a new kind of hero and a better idea. That “better idea” we call The Gospel of the Kingdom. And it is more than an idea. It is embodied in Jesus of Nazareth, the true Lord of heaven and earth. This is the message we are supposed to preach. This is what the early church preached. They proclaimed that Jesus was Lord which meant that Caesar was not Lord. That’s why they got into trouble with the authorities. You can check it out in Acts 17:5-8. Our message is primarily not a wimpy message of “pray this prayer so you can be sure of going to heaven when you die.” If that is all the early church preached they would never have been persecuted. Although that point is true, it falls far short of the historic Gospel.
Our message is that there is a true Lord of heaven and earth who has come to reign over all. He summons the nations to obey him, to follow his path, and to seek true glory and true humanity. It is the message ISIS needs to hear, the entire Arab world needs to hear, and for that matter, the message every nation needs to hear for all are still infected – to varying degrees – by the disease of wrong ideas of glory and manhood.
The only way to change deeply entrenched ideas is with stronger, more powerful, more imaginative, more compelling ideas. The Gospel of the Kingdom provides this, the Gospel that points to the one who lived it and who overcame all adversity, the Gospel that proclaims Jesus is Lord of all.
When God closed the door to India for our friends, Mike and Su Keator, he opened another door for them – the very needy land of Nepal. Mike and Su are working with pastors and leaders throughout this country to multiply groups that will train people to share the Gospel with the needy millions in this land.
Word of God, Speak is very pleased to assist Mike and Su in their amazing ministry through prayer and in giving. We are now able to assist them with the Stories of the Master radio program and CDs of the stories to distribute in the land! We will sign a contract with Trans World Radio this week to translate and produce our program in this language. In addition to purchasing radio time in Nepal, we will produce CDs of key stories and use other technologies to mass distribute the good news of Jesus.
We thank God for a special person whose generosity made this possible and for your continued support. Join with us in prayer for Mike and Su and for the translation and production of Stories of the Master in Nepalese.
The NRB is exhilarating. One interacts with all kinds of Christians, learns about all kinds of ministries, and meets people from all over the world. Every now and then someone famous walks by, like Charles Stanley, or scoots by in a motorized wheelchair like Joni Erickson Tada. Sometimes someone is standing beside us and we would never dream about their greatness.
Freda Tell was a volunteer. She stood beside our booth and directed traffic. How great could a volunteer be?
She was saved in her mid-30s when her daughter convinced her to attend the Baptist church across the street from their home. For decades she lived the “normal Christian life”, quiet, unobtrusive, serving in the church and occasionally sharing her testimony. Four years ago a restlessness grew within her and morning devotions took on a new intensity. She read Matthew 9:36-38 where Jesus challenged the apostles to pray for God to send workers into his harvest. Could he send her? “Lord, show me how I can work with you to glorify your name in the world.”
A year later a friend said, “Freda, God wants to use you. Can you write?”
“Yes, I can write.”
“There is an organization that uses writers to create stories from the Bible. Can you write something on Esther?”
Freda said “yes” but still wondered. Who were these people? Was this a scam? What will they do with her writing? Could she really write?
“Lord, if you want me to do this you must affirm it. If you want me to write about Queen Esther in Persia, show me!”
A few days later she noticed a young woman selling sun glasses in a mall. She had lovely, smooth olive skin, bright, even, white teeth, jet black hair and eyes. Freda asked where she was from – “Persia.” Freda thought, “Persia, just like Esther!”
A few days later a guest speaker in her church unveiled an ancient scroll. It was the book of Esther! That was enough for Freda. She started writing her drama on the book of Esther, and it was accepted by a missionary organization that reaches out with stories from the Bible in 32 countries.
She now works on other stories, and God is using her to reach people in faraway places like Mongolia and Indonesia with a gift Freda did not know she had until a few years ago.
Freda says, “I want to do exceptional things for God, but I think the Lord’s plan is that we be exceptional in the ordinary things. I did not choose to be a writer. God said ‘I have chosen you.’ When God calls you, don’t try to change the course, he will do with you what he never did before.”
This is Freda Tell, our friend, our sister in Christ, and a woman of faith who is reaching people by her story writing because she prayed and dared to follow God! An example for us all!
The events in Jesus’ life and the stories he told are among the greatest the world has heard. We have selected ten of them where he interacted with women in revolutionary ways. But these episodes in his life and the stories he created reveal a Greater Story in which he plays the pivotal role. Do you know what this Greater Story is?
Storytelling captures imaginations and hearts. Undoubtedly, this is why Jesus told them. But he designed his stories to draw attention to this Greater Story – the Story he lived, died for, and rose for. In this Greater Story he and his audience were participants. So are you! So am I! What is the Greater Story in which we play a role? Like a good play, it consists of several Acts.
Act 1 – Creation tells about the Creator.
Act 2 – Catastrophe introduces sadness into the Story.
Act 3 – Covenants introduces a new figure in the drama.
Act 4 – Christ is the turning point in the Story.
Act 5 – Commission is when the resurrected Jesus commands his followers to tell the world the Greater Story.
Act 6 – Consummation is the last chapter in God’s Greater Story.
The world is full of stories and people are listening. Our hope for The Women Jesus Loved is that as people read these imaginative and faithful-to-Scripture stories of Jesus and women, they will come to learn the Greater Story in which they can participate and find his liberating love. Our hope is that you and your loved ones will experience this in our book.
Order your copy and learn of his great love for a world in desperate need.
How we wish the bullies, the thugs, the despots, the tyrants would just go away and leave widows, unprotected women, little girls, all who are vulnerable – women and men – alone. Leave them alone!
But the thugs aren’t going anywhere soon, it seems. However, we aren’t going anywhere either. The Church is drawing battle lines and moving forward into the darkness with the message of the liberating kingdom of God. Jesus is building his Church in the world and the gates of Hell will not be able to stand against the onslaughts of the Church. These are his words, not mine.
Shortly before Jesus entered Jerusalem for his final week, a woman came to him and anointed him for his burial. The disciples (not just Judas!) were outraged at this waste and reprimanded her, but Jesus said “Leave her alone!”
As people read this story and many others in The Women Jesus Loved, our prayer is that the voice of Jesus will be heard again in the world – “Leave her alone! Leave these precious little ones alone! Leave these vulnerable women alone!” His voice will be heard through his people proclaiming the kingdom to the world.
Our prayer for The Women Jesus Loved is far greater than selling a bunch of books. Our prayer is that the liberating love of Jesus for women and men will capture the hearts of millions and transform people, families, communities, and nations.
Order your copy and learn of his great love for a world in desperate need.
Listen to this story here: