Monthly Archives: August 2011

5 Minutes with K.P. – Commitment Plus Sacrifice Equals Victory

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

As she was overpowered by the soldiers of the Sri Lankan army, the woman struggled desperately to swallow a deadly cyanide pill from her necklace, but to no avail.

She was a well-known Tamil Tiger, a guerilla fighter. She lived for a single cause: the war to gain homeland rule for the Tamil population of Sri Lanka. After her capture, an official of the Sri Lankan government visited her in prison. As he talked to her, he was amazed by her absolute commitment to the cause. She didn’t beg him for her life, and she did not offer valuable secret information to save her skin. Fully aware of her impending execution, she appealed to him: “Please help our cause. When we are in power, we will remember you.”

When he asked her why she had joined the liberation movement, she gave him the following explanation: “I was in my late 20s, well-educated and working as a medical doctor. Then one day my whole life was changed when my parents were killed by soldiers. I left my profession and everything I knew, and I subjected myself to vigorous training to become a freedom fighter.”

It was from the very official who had met this woman in prison that I learned about this encounter. This story challenged me afresh to think very deeply about the meaning of commitment to a cause and the willingness to sacrifice all in the attempt to accomplish it.

Of course, this guerilla fighter was giving her life for an earthly, ideological goal. Her dreams might never come to pass. Even if they would materialize, they would all be for the here and now. None of those dreams would last for eternity.

Jesus has not asked us to follow Him for a cause whose outcome is uncertain or questionable. Instead, He has already won the victory over Satan, sin and death through the cross and His resurrection. With His life, He portrayed the elements needed to win any kind of spiritual victory: total commitment to God and His purpose, and unrestricted willingness to sacrifice everything to accomplish victory.

Jesus not only lived this truth, but over and over, He also taught it to His disciples and anyone who considered following Him. He wanted to make sure that we clearly understand that there is no other key to spiritual victory and no other way to fulfill our responsibility to proclaim His kingdom here on earth. To choose Him above all else and to love Him more than our own lives—this is the commitment required to be able to do His will. The sacrifice needed to accomplish His cause is none other than what Jesus told us in John 12:24: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

When we read the New Testament, we cannot overlook the most direct application of this teaching in the lives of the apostles and the early Christians. As they took the Gospel into all the world, it caused them to regard suffering, agony and even martyrdom as privileges. They knew that tremendous victory and fruit would be produced for eternity as a result.

Think what Christ could accomplish through our churches—and in our lives—if we would accept such commitment and sacrifice as the means to victory! What is the result when a church joyfully decides to be satisfied with a modest building and simply the essentials, instead of spending millions on a palace of comfort and prestige, and then uses the money to help reach those who have never heard the Gospel before? And all out of love for Christ? I believe they discover that their sacrifice brings them greater joy sitting in a simple church than they could ever experience in the most costly building.

What happens when we first run our plans and wishes for a comfortable, secure life through the filter of commitment and sacrifice? Think about the time and money spent on entertainment, trips, cars, home decorating and clothes. Could it be that we would discover greater joy and satisfaction without these things if we chose instead to pray and fast for a lost world or to spend our resources to help win souls in the most unreached areas?

We actually deceive ourselves when we think that our clever strategies, conferences and token offerings of time and money will win this world for Christ.

There is no substitute for sacrifice if we care to follow the Son of God, who set His face to the cross and its shame.

Taking up the cross is the ultimate form of self-denial.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K. P. – Giving Up the Good

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

“This is the beginning of the end.” You have read it many times; you probably have heard many preachers say it. And possibly you have even said it yourself. The question is, the end of what? As is often the case, we use words and phrases without really thinking about what they mean.

“The end” does not mean the completion of a journey, or the end of some war that is raging, or the finish of any other thing that happens as a part of life’s events. In this phrase, “the end” refers to the disappearance of time as we know it. Soon the prophecy in the book of Revelation will come to pass, “. . . and time shall be no more.”

I’m shaken with this thought, knowing that there are billions of people living in my generation who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. They are rushing toward eternity, helplessly chained inside a house that is on fire. If they are not rescued, the end result for them will be eternal weeping, wailing and pain. Yet there need not be. Jesus died for them. I’m told to rescue them. I am supposed to walk into the fire and pull them out. Seconds tick by, and soon it will be too late. I hear their agony and their cries for help.

Incredible events have been happening around the world that signal “the beginning of the end.” There is no time to sit, to think or to plan—but only to move as fast as we can to win the lost. Time is running out. I believe the Lord is calling His people to commit their lives with absolute, all-out dedication to reach the lost and dying of our generation. However, as C.S. Lewis said, “Active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened. The more often [a man] feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”

In North America, we are inundated with Christian books, conferences and programs that keep us continually occupied. Eventually we become overly familiar with the things of God.

It was the same in Jesus’ time. So many voices called for His attention. He received so much advice and was enticed with so many good things, but He rejected it, and said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). And we read in Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” That is, you and I must become like Jesus. And as we become like Jesus, we will say “no” to many good things and commit our lives with an undivided heart and determination to reach multiplied millions who are dying and going to hell having never heard of Jesus’ death for them.

What are the many good things that are keeping you from the best and the most important?

May I challenge you, as I have challenged my own staff at Gospel for Asia, to recommit your life without any reservation to reach our generation for the Lord Jesus Christ? There is a price to pay. There is pain. There is agony. Tears. Hurts. Disappointments. Loss. But it’s all worth it. This battle is intense; it is hard. But it will not last very long. Time is running out.

Decide to pray daily for different countries of the world. Request the SEND! newsmagazine, published by Gospel for Asia, to help you pray with us. Live more simply. Don’t be caught up in and enticed by the world’s advertising. Ask the question, “Why do I need it?” Give more this year to support missionaries who are giving their lives to reach the world’s lost souls.

Please walk away from the lukewarm, selfish, “me, mine and ours” Christianity and dedicate yourself to a radical, all-out commitment to walk in His footsteps. His footsteps will take you to genuine, intense warfare that will cost you much, but in the end this is the best thing you can do. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”2

Consider the commitment of the Nepali brothers:

As a chilly wind started to blow over the steep mountain trail, the two men hurried to reach an area that was sheltered by huge rocks in which to bed down for the night. Just as the last glimpses of daylight disappeared, they reached their destination and gladly set their heavy back loads on the ground.

Extremely tired from the all-day climb, they hastily ate dinner, wrapped themselves in blankets, and went to sleep. At sunrise they had already resumed their difficult and often dangerous trek, ascending higher and higher into the mountainous Mustang region of northern Nepal.

Aaitaman and Suk Bahadur are porters carrying supplies from Pokhara, the last bus station on the way to the Loba tribal village of Jomsom, a six-day climb on foot.

But there is much more to their lives than carrying loads on their back and earning a living the hard way. These two young men are the answers to your prayers for God to send missionaries to the Loba tribal people!

After receiving a clear call from the Lord to work among this unreached people group, these two native missionaries from the Gorkha district traveled by bus to Pokhara and then walked for six days to the mountain village of Jomsom. Their plan was to settle there and pioneer a church. But things were not as easy as they thought.

They quickly found out that the local people would not allow outsiders to stay among them unless they had a job in the village. The brothers searched for employment, but nothing was available except carrying supplies like rice, salt and other provisions from the base of the mountain to the village at the top. For the sake of the Gospel and their love for the Loba people, Aaitaman and Suk Bahadur, graduates from the Gospel for Asia Nepali Bible school, accepted the job.

Every month they walk 15 days up and down the mountain, carrying heavy loads on their back—and witnessing about Jesus to every one they meet on the way. So far they have covered five Loba villages with the Gospel.

Their labor for Jesus has not been in vain; with the first few people they won to Christ, they were able to start a small fellowship in Jomsom.

Jesus asks no less commitment from us, for He gave His all, including His life, to save the lost.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – Starting from Zero

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Each one of us would be absolutely terrified if we were asked to walk along the edge of the Grand Canyon during a pitch-dark night without any light. After all, we could fall off the cliff and die. We might be more willing to do it if we had a travel plan and a bright light that would allow us to see every detail ahead of us.

In the same way, we want to plan and control our lives while we walk with the Lord. We want to be sure of tomorrow, and we want to be certain how He is going to take care of us before we ever dare to step out on His Word. We don’t mind that He is our King as long as His actions are predictable and He shows and explains to us His schedule ahead of time.

On the other hand, we feel helpless, frustrated, and almost angry if all we hear from Him is “follow Me, trust Me” and “walk by faith, not by sight.” We have waited for details, plans and especially security, but all He gave us was His promise that He is all we need.

True walking with the Lord requires us to be totally stripped of everything that is of ourselves and in which we had put our trust, as well as our expectations of acceptance, approval, security, importance, abilities and our rights.

Being stripped does not at all mean to renounce the world and go somewhere to live in a cave. It simply means that we look at ourselves and recognize that we have nothing in us to stand on and nothing to hold on to. All we have is total emptiness. Once we recognize this truth, we are then in the right position to follow Him, totally depend on Him and trust completely in His sufficiency.

God deliberately waited until Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 before He gave them a son. He waited until there was no doubt that Abraham was aware of his own emptiness and therefore was totally dependent on God. Isaac became the son of the Spirit and not of the flesh.

Throughout the Bible we find examples of how God had to wait until His people came to the place of recognizing their own emptiness before He was able to lead them, give them victory and show Himself mighty on their behalf. At times God had to intervene to speed up this process, such as in the story of Gideon. God reduced Gideon’s army to 300 men to make it impossible for them to win the battle in their own strength.

How about you? Have you stepped on empty ground?

•   Is there something the Lord has asked you to do but you have put it off, either because you feel unqualified or because you fear you will lose control of the situation?

•   What has hindered you from giving unselfishly to reach the lost in our generation?

•   Can you honestly say, “This world is not my home. I am just passing through”?

•   If someone were to point a gun at you and say, “Deny Christ or I will kill you,” what would be your response? Can you say as Paul did, “Nor do I count my life dear to myself” (Acts 20:24)?

•   Is your prayer life proof of your total dependence on the Lord? Do you ask the Lord to show you His plans with a willing heart to obey them, or do you just ask Him to bless your plans?

God has never accepted the product of the flesh, and He never will, however good it might look in our sight. Our plans, our strength and our works, based on anything we find in ourselves, will all burn up. Only that which is of the Spirit will remain eternally.

If we want to follow Him, we must stand on empty ground. It is only in this way that all the results will be of the Spirit and all glory will be the Lord’s, not our own.

The Lord says: Cursed is the man who puts his trust in mortal man and turns his heart away from God. He is like a stunted shrub in the desert, with no hope for the future; he lives on the salt-encrusted plains in the barren wilderness; good times pass him by forever. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. He is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water—a tree not bothered by the heat nor worried by long months of drought. Its leaves stay green and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit (Jeremiah 17:5–8, TLB).

A warning such as this we must not ignore.

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – Keeping the War in Mind

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Can you imagine an airline pilot flying a 747 over the Atlantic Ocean and in the middle of the flight forgetting his destination?

One of the strongest and most successful attacks of the enemy on the work of God is to cause us to forget our purpose and our goal. All of a sudden we find ourselves totally wrapped up in “normal living,” no longer able to answer the questions, “Why are we here? What are we doing?”

The Bible very clearly tells us that we are here not for ourselves but for the cause of a lost world that has never heard the name of Jesus and for its multiplied millions of souls who are heading for hell.

How can we forget nations like Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and China, where there is so much spiritual darkness and physical suffering? How can we so comfortably live for ourselves while millions slip into an eternal hell? We can do it because our enemy has managed to replace our purpose as a Christian with a desire for comfort and self-realization.

You see, it is often in emergency or crisis situations that we are roused to action. For example, seeing the burning house where our own child is trapped inside would surely motivate us to do something about it.

But we have forgotten the reality of the lost who are heading to an eternity in hell and the urgency to tell them of salvation. In our forgetfulness, we lose sight of our motivation and purpose. Instead, we become self-centered. From that moment on, everything God asks us to do that would disturb our “heaven on earth” becomes a burden, a problem to us. We start looking for excuses to say “no, not me.”

During World War II, the people of England saw that if they didn’t win the war, they would lose their land, their freedom and everything that was dear to them. This realization caused them as a nation to scale down their lifestyles to the barest of essentials. For this one goal—to save their nation—they gladly sacrificed all they had: money, gold, silver, even their sons to fight the war.

This type of single-focused sacrifice is often manifested on the mission field. Shankar was born in a leper colony to parents stricken with leprosy. In order to save him from contracting the disease, a native missionary raised him in a home he had built for the children of lepers. Shankar received a good education and with it a chance to make a better life for himself.

Along the way Shankar gave his life to the Lord and received a call to full-time ministry. Just before Shankar graduated from Bible college, the missionary brother told him that he was free to go to a new place and start a new Gospel work. Shankar replied, “No, I will work among my own people, the lepers, and tell them how the Lord has changed my life and how He can save them.” Today Shankar has laid down everything he has gained and his chance for a better life to live and work as a missionary in the leper colonies of India.

He remembered the war.

We too must keep the war in our mind—at all times. Let us not forget why we are here. God is looking for people with a wartime commitment that will save our generation.

What about you? Are you willing to stand in the gap for a person, a village, a state or a nation? The Lord was looking for a person who was willing to make such a commitment when He spoke through the prophet Ezekiel and said, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).

Make a list of 10 people who don’t know the Lord and pray for them daily—fast and pray. Witness to people about the Lord wherever you are. Carry Gospel tracts or booklets and pass them out. Find out about the unreached nations and people groups of the world and adopt them as your prayer focus. Pray and believe for their salvation.

You are called. What are you waiting for?

 

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

5 Minutes with K.P. – How Narrow Is the Narrow Road?

Reflecting His Image - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Have you ever wondered how narrow the narrow road is that Jesus talks about in Matthew 7:13–14?

Most of us have discovered that indeed the gate is small that leads to life. We’ve tried our best either with works of self-righteousness or with man-made philosophies to prove otherwise. But we finally came to the conclusion: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We called on the name of Jesus, entered through the narrow gate, and received salvation and eternal life.

However, as soon as we walked through the gate, we made the discovery that the road behind that gate was even more narrow than we thought. We started to walk on it thinking it might broaden as we got farther along, but it didn’t.

We looked around to see how other Christians were handling this precarious path. To our astonishment, we found out that most people who call themselves Christians had construction crews deployed on both sides of the narrow road working very hard to enlarge and widen it.

When we asked them why they were doing this, they said, “We are dealing with a modern world that has different needs and expectations than in the past. We are called to minister to people when they come to Christ, and we must do all we can to make them feel comfortable and welcome. After all, we are competing with a world out there that has everything to offer. If we tell them about picking up the cross and denying themselves or giving up everything and laying down their lives for the sake of Christ and the Gospel, we will definitely lose them. These old views of Christianity were a misunderstanding of Scripture and don’t fit any longer. As Christians we deserve the best of everything in this life as well as in the next life.”

Believing this lie, we have tried to make the narrow road wider and wider to accommodate all our wants, dreams and wishes.

To many, God has become a servant to fulfill all of our expectations. Our church buildings cost millions of dollars; our Christian programs, entertainment and resources are the best in the world; and we are very proud of these achievements. Our personal and family lives are structured to meet our desires of comfort and ease. For far too many, the narrow road has slowly become so wide that it is hard to distinguish it from the broad one!

What does all this mean for the unreached peoples of our generation who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

It means no one cares for them, no one sacrifices on their behalf and no one will tell them the wonderful news of God’s love and salvation. Have we become so self-centered and so insensitive that we can no longer hear the call of Jesus to give up our lives for those who have never heard His name?

Even if we still can hear His call, we naturally reject and walk away from anything that requires pain and suffering or that threatens our comfort.

Oh yes, we may put a $10 bill in the offering plate when a missionary speaks at our church, and we may donate a sweater for the homeless. But is that the extent of our compassion and personal involvement? If so, our heart is far, far away from the love of God, who willingly went to the cross to give His blood for our redemption.

We must remember that God Himself never enlarged His small gate or His narrow road. They remain the same as they were 2,000 years ago when Jesus first described them. In Matthew 7:14, He said that only a few will ever find this road.

That is so true. But there are even fewer who are willing to consider walking on the narrow road after they have found it. Deciding to choose the narrow path means they will have to walk alone while others enjoy traveling comfortably on their enlarged versions. Today, in a world with mega-churches and multiplied millions of Christians, only a few will ever stop to hear the call of Christ to lay down their lives for a lost world. He might ask us to go, to support missionaries, to intercede in prayer or to invest our strength as well as our means in order to win the lost. Recognizing that it will cost us a high price, we go to our church and to other believers for counsel.

There are wonderful pastors and elders who will encourage us to go and pursue God’s call. But more often than not, we are counseled to do the opposite. We are told that if we go, no one will be able to replace us in the fellowship; and if we give our resources to missions, the church’s own programs will suffer. If we get involved in pursuing missions, we won’t be able to do justice to our church duties.

Maybe you’ve heard this call of Jesus on your life, but you were truly concerned over who would take your place if you “sold out completely.” Believe me, there are others who are just as qualified as you who can take your place. But there are so very, very few who know or understand what you know. George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization, once said, “It might be hard to find one in 10,000 or a million who will understand that half of the world has never heard the name Jesus and are plunging into eternal hell, and who will give their lives away to die and be unknown, unnoticed for their sake.”

This statement is so true. Only a few will ever hear the call and choose the narrow road that leads to life, not only for themselves but for the lost world as well.

You plus God make a majority. Choose the narrow path—the Son of God left His footprints on it. At the end of the road, you will meet Him.

What are the things that are holding you back?

Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.