Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Eternal Lamb of God--by Linden Malki

"Behold the Lamb of God!" This is the introduction that John the Baptist gave Jesus at the very beginning of His ministry. At that time, this prophetic word would have little meaning, although the concept of the sacrificial lamb goes back to the very beginning of God's relationship with His people. Abel was killed by his brother Cain, who was jealous that Abel offered a perfect lamb. The legal demands of this perfection grew to the point, by the time of Jesus, that the Temple establishment raised sheep for sacrifice, and interpreted the law in such a way that only their animals met the standard. And it didn't matter that the people were denied the priviledge of bringing the best of their own flocks. Jesus knew better than anyone how this offering was supposed to work, and how it exploited the letter of the law into power and profits for those who were supposed to be servants of the God and His Temple. We see His response in John 2:12-22, where it sets the stage for His continuing confrontation with those who saw Him shaking the foundations of their world.

The truth is that we cannot be perfect, and no creature of this fallen world will ever be good enough to bring us into the presence of God. The One who called Himself the Good Shepherd of a fallible and imperfect flock of people became the perfect Lamb to be sacrificed in our place. At that moment, we are told, the Veil in the Temple that hung between the Holiest part of the Temple and ordinary people was ripped from top to bottom. Within 40 years, the Temple itself was destroyed, and the animal sacrifices were obsolete.

We often think of death as an ending. In this case, it was the beginning of a whole new relationship between God and His people. This Lamb didn't stay dead!
On the morning that we celebrate this weekend, the tomb was opened and Jesus, the Eternal Lamb, came out alive! Those who saw Him were never the same. We know that death is not the end; that if we choose to open our lives to Him and follow Him, He will lead us, like the perfect Shepherd, to the greenest pastures, clearest water, and above all, the eternal presence of our Creator and Lord.
(Thanks to Mark Lambert & Malcolm Guise)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday in Ejido Hidalgo... Pastor Paul

 Wow!  What a great day!  We began with 1100 people in worship... then headed to our Ejido.  We did VBS for 40 kids while 30 adults watched from the wings.

We sang, taught, played games, ate snack, and hugged kids.

Tonight 13 people from our site came to dinner at the APU site.  It was bring your ministry site to camp night!  We ate together at the camper, then a bi-lingual worship service with over 3,000.

Tomorrow... 7:00 breakfast, 8:00 worship, 9:15 painting at a school, 12:00 lunch, 1:00 VBS, 4:00 teach adults Celebracion, Grupos de Vida, La Tutoria, with OIKOS at the center.  Then, if we make it, back for worship at 8:00pm.  Pray for us!!!!
 Love you all,
see you soon!
Pastor Poppie Paul

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Your team is getting very excited about their upcoming trip to Ejido Hidalgo.  We are packing, and prepping.  Many thanks to all of you who have prayed, and donated, to make this possible.

On Saturday March 23 we drive to Cuernavaca and set up camp.  Sandy, Maria, Karen, Ron, Chris, and I will travel in two trucks, loaded with snacks, crafts, and sporting equipment.

We will be doing VBS for three hours each afternoon Sunday-Thursday.  We have Bible stories, crafts, games, and water balloons.  There is even a water balloon launcher.  You have donated Frisbees, kites, baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, bats, gloves, soap bubbles, and many smaller prizes.  We have been practicing worship songs in Spanish.  We have put together a kids tract in Spanish.  God loves me, I have sinned, Jesus died for me, I will live for Him. 

We begin each day at base camp with worship, and end each day with worship.  We will be camping with hundreds of others from Azusa Pacific University, and churches from all over the country.  We are in a very fancy dirt lot, in the middle of a small town with dirt streets. 

In addition to our VBS, we have been invited to minister to the adults.  We have put together a bi-lingual packet which covers the basics of our Celebration/Celebracion, Life Groups/Grupas da Vida, and Mentoring/La Tutoria.  We have a case of the 8-15 Oikos book in Spanish.  It has already been suggested that when JumpStart is finished we translate it into Spanish.

Our prayer is that the VBS will touch dozens of children.  We have been told to expect up to sixty.  As the children go home with crafts, songs, and tracts it is our prayer that the gospel message penetrates all of their homes.  Reaching the children for Christ, and sowing the seeds of the gospel is huge.  Equally exciting is the opportunity to challenge a group of adults with Oikos evangelism in the Acts two Cell Model.

If we make the connection with the church that we are hoping to make, I can see this being a long term relationship.  If we could take men down for a work project on the building, and do even deeper leadership training for Life Group leaders, and encourage the pastor and church to be praying over their updated Oikos list, anything can happen.

One step at a time!

Be praying for your team all week!

Ask God to open a wide door,
and if it is His will,
to release signs and wonders upon each of us!

His will be done,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

All We Need to Know in One Weekend--Linden Malki

God created us to be His family, with the potential to be in an awesome relationship with Him. However, we cannot live up to our potential on our own abilities. When Jesus walked the earth, some people recognized Him as God-sent, and followed Him; others saw Him as a threat to their own power and ambitions. This attitude led to Jesus' death! But God allowed Jesus' death to break the power of evil and death. "Good Friday" is the demonstration of God using a really really bad thing to have great power for Good.

The Jewish Sabbath is the centerpiece of Jewish law. Think about that Sabbath--His friends were devastated and afraid, and there was nothing that they could do. All of the rituals and observances have their place, but they could not bring Him back; they could not even prepare His body for burial. A Festival Sabbath should have been a joyful time, but it was probably the worst day of their lives. It must have  looked like a dead end.

Now look at Easter morning!  The one thing they really had not expected, or even thought possible, happened! Death was not the end; death had no power over Him. They saw a power here that would change their lives in even ways that the previous three years as His constant companions hadn't done.
Look at the difference between His followers on that horrible Sabbath, and six weeks later on Pentecost!
They knew, as we should also know, that when Jesus had talked about Life, it was what we had been created for, but cannot reach outside of Him.

I was the one with my mother-in-law on her last night. She was restless; even medicated, she couldn't sleep.  Very early on a Tuesday morning, she kept saying "This morning will be Sunday!" And I kept answering, "No, yesterday was Monday, it will be Tuesday." She kept saying "It will be Sunday!" and seemed to be seeing her mother and a deceased sister. She passed into eternity about 6am that morning. I realized that she was seeing something that she could only describe as having a Sunday atmosphere; that that first Easter Sunday was our glimpse of eternity.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Legacy of One Man--by Linden Malki

"What difference can I make? I'm  just one person!" In a world of billions, it's hard to believe that one person matters. In the coming weeks, we are reminded of One Person who made all the difference! But there have been many people, followers who were empowered by a relationship with that One Person, who had had enormous impact, not just in their own time, but for all time.

This weekend is the traditional feast day dedicated to St Patrick. The fact that it is still celebrated--sometimes too well--gives a hint of the legacy of this man. Some people are surprised that he was a real person. He was born Patricius, in Roman Britain probably about 387AD, the son of a deacon and grandson of a bishop.(Traditions of missionaries to Britain go back to the first century.) His autobiography tells of visiting the west coast of Britain at the age of 16, and being captured by slave traders and sold in Ireland. He spent about six years as a shepherd, and like David, the solitude and beauty of the land deepened his faith and dependence on God.

One day he heard a Voice directing him to a harbor, where a ship was ready to take him home. One account tells of him  earning his passage on the ship by handling a shipment of Irish wolfhounds. The ship landed in France, during a time of barbarian invasion and hard times. He made his way to Italy, went to school at a monastery on the island of St Lerins, and was ordained as a priest. He returned home to Britain, but tells of receiving a vision calling him  to Ireland.

He returned to Ireland as a bishop and missionary--there was already a small Christian community there. He preached before kings and all kinds of people, and a traditional story is that he used a shamrock, which only grows in Ireland, as an example of the Trinity: three leaves, but all one plant with one stem. One record says that when he arrived in Ireland, about 2 percent of the population was Christian; when he died, it was 66 percent. The church in Ireland has survived and thrived, and had a major influence here in the US as well.

One of his priorities was recruiting and training students to preach and serve. In other words, mentoring was major part of his ministry, and his students later were important to the church in Scotland, and were one of the ways the church in Europe was preserved during the invasions and disruptions of the Dark Ages.  So we are all indebted to Patrick's success in transmitting his message to those who would pass it on.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spiritual Networking by Linden Malki

Underlying the concept of Oikos is that of networking: not only are we as individuals connected to a small group of other people, but we can be the connector between those people. I had that happen last Saturday. One of the friends who lives at my house was worried because the driver's window on her car got stuck down  on Friday night, and she was supposed to go to an event on Saturday required for a class she is taking. I offered to drop her off at a classmate's house and take the car to work with me to get the window up.  Also on Saturday, my daughter had picked up her college daughter from Orange County who needed to be home this weekend. Mary missed the freeway turn she normally makes and wound up coming through downtown San Bernardino, and decided, on the spur of the moment, to stop by my store. While they were there, my housemate got dropped off at the store to connect with her car.  Michelle mentioned that she was supposed to put together a video presentation for this class, and hadn't been able to make it work. My granddaughter, who is a photography student, said she had her video camera with her and offered to help; and it turned out that her brother had the information needed for the report.  So the stuck window and the missed freeway turn wound up connecting several people in my oikos to accomplish something good. And I heard my daughter and my housemate planning to get together and help each other with other things. And I'm sure that the class presentation will include the story of how prayers were answered to get it done, and my grandkids saw God's providence in action. 

When I realized that Tom Mercer is saying that if the oikos God brings you includes believers, this is a OK, I was relieved. The vision that it gave me was a network of people connecting with each other and helping each other grow. Sharing insights with a fellow believer can help us both in our contacts with other people, enriching each other's oikos, and watching our spheres of influence grow beyond our own reach.