Men in the Rural Areas

My life is devoted to the rural areas of Africa. I love the people who live with little access to English, jobs, or cement roads. But neither they nor I love the poverty and environment in which they live. The solution to the poverty, crime, witchcraft, fear, and sense of hopelessness that many feel is the Christian religion. I am a missionary because I want to prove with my life that Christ is not only worthy of my devotion, but that He alone can change the backward condition of the endless string of villages in which the majority of Africans live. The problem in the poor villages is religious and thus the solutions are also religious.

I offer here three lists as broad evaluations of the society as viewed through the lens of Scripture.

9 benefits that would come to the rural areas if men acted Biblically

  1. Crime would decrease because men would take responsibility for their sons and also, though to a lesser degree, for their neighbors.
  2. Businesses would begin to flourish because men would try to support their families.
  3. Education would improve as fathers start attending meetings, talking with their children, and actively involving themselves in the next generation.
  4. Roads would be repaired by individual men, families, or committees who care about saving time and money on vehicle spares.
  5. Title deeds would be obtained for individual property in the place of “permission to occupy” papers as men see the value in owning and improving their own land.
  6. Churches would move away from offering entertainment and acting as witchcraft reinforcement camps as men demand a logical, spiritual religion for their families.
  7. Black languages would see a new flowering in anticipation of Heaven when the nations bring their glory and honor into the New Jerusalem.
  8. Confidence, hope, and optimism would replace doubtful low expectations in the sensibilities of the youth as the see more clearly the dignity of the image of God in their fathers and uncles.
  9. Rural areas would give way to developed and prosperous areas as the citizens reflect Christian virtues.

8 ways men in the rural areas are neglecting their duties

  1. They are not restraining their urges within marriage.
  2. They are not redeeming their moments and days as precious gifts that could create wealth.
  3. They are not leading their communities in integrity, honesty, and diligence.
  4. They are not multiplying their wealth in a moral and lasting way.
  5. They are not improving themselves as they should in skills, philosophy, religion, and art.
  6. They are not promoting true religion in their families and communities.
  7. They are not protecting women, children, and the weak from present and future calamities.
  8. They are not taking responsibility for training and disciplining their children.

7 reasons we should pity men in the rural areas

  1. They have lived for generations with animistic paganism and all its demonic effects.
  2. They have grown up without active fathers in the home.
  3. They have been raised without books commonly in the home.
  4. They have learned patterns of communication that stunt the acquisition of knowledge that could be gained in common conversation with adults.
  5. They have a feeling of hopelessness when they try to imagine a path out of cultural practices and toward practical success.
  6. They have very few examples near to them in the village of those who have reached a middle-class level of success in character, finances, and life.
  7. They have the debilitating consequences of sin along with the fear of death and eternal damnation with almost no true churches or Christians within their reach.

My focus is on the men because that is where the Bible focuses. As the heads of their homes and leaders in society, men must be truly Christian in order to see any large scale social change.

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3 Reasons Protestants Should Read Dante’s Divine Comedy

1. Eternal realities are exalted to their rightful place by his poetry.

Who does not revolt at the thought of eternal condemnation when he reads The Inferno? Dante’s vast imagination conjures levels of judgment for common and uncommon sins. He casts his readers into a caldron along with their sins and differing punishments so that the mind practices to unite each transgression with its fitting torment. This kind of exercise builds a godly hatred of sin as well as a sense of proportion.

In Paradise the equal and opposite affection for glory is developed. Our Lord said that some would bear 30, 60, and 100 fold fruit. Dante presses the reaches of human imagination in an attempt to color what that might look like for all eternity. For those of us with dwarfed imaginations, it is a regimen to stretch our minds so that they might begin to take in some of the metaphors throughout Scripture.

For any Bible-believing Christians who are afraid of imagination as if it is a back-door attack on Sola Scriptura—“Imagination sounds a lot like ‘fiction’ which does not sound like Truth”, a truncated imagination will struggle with the “marriage of the Lamb”, “we shall be like Him”, “we shall judge angels”, “my Father’s house”, “great white throne”, and “all things new.” Dante takes two large buckets of Scriptural images and tries to compel us to think about them. The result in my heart was more godly fear and more driving hope.

Who takes much time to think about eternity? In The Divine Comedy, eternity becomes at once both terrifying and awesome.  

    2. The end of beauty is achieved through meticulous order.

    Like Baroque music, The Divine Comedy is an orderly masterpiece in a trinal structure. There are 3 sections (Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven) with 33 Cantos each set in rhymes of 3. The Inferno has an introductory Canto so that the entire work reaches 100.

    The edition I read had Italian on the left hand side with English on the right so that I could see the original words and their rhymes, though I do not speak Italian. As I compared his word selection in Italian, I often found my mouth gaping as he used so many unique words in sets of three. For more than 14,000 lines, the rhymes are set like gears in a Swiss watch in a linking pattern of a, b, a, b, c, b, c, d, c, d, e, d, e, f…

    He originally called his work The Comedy meaning a happy ending which points to a great unity, but the three sections, 33 cantos each, and rhymes in sets of thee point pleasingly to the One true God in three Persons. Unity and diversity; Grand, overarching oneness and particular threeness.

    3. The message of “Press on!” is imprinted on any honest reader.

    The implied message in Hell and Heaven is to avoid the one and gain the other at any cost. But then in The Purgatory, Virgil repeats to Dante over and over the command to press on, do not delay, quicken your pace, and keep moving. For any readers who have the wisdom to apply this to their present life, it is a vital Scriptural injunction (Heb. 6:1).

    Biblical errors in Dante’s Divine Comedy

    Even though it is worth reading, the errors are serious and reflect the unbiblical nature of core Catholic teachings.

      1. Very little Christ.

      With such astounding powers to build with words, why could Dante not make our hearts pull toward Christ? The entire work rarely references the Son of God. The poetry of Isaac Watts, the sermons of Spurgeon, and even the portrayal of Prince Emmanuel in Bunyan’s Holy War do much more to draw the heart to Jesus than the 14,000 lines of Dante. The one who determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ, to boast in nothing save the cross, would have found a great deficiency in a theology that produces such a bloodless portrait. 

        2. Too much Mary.

        Faithful to the false teaching of Rome, Dante walked by the King to exalt a woman who knew that she needed a Savior, a woman who was content to stay in the background after fulfilling her role in the divine plan. Even up to the 100th Canto, he writes of Mary with little attention to the Son of God. At best, it is a foolish overemphasis on a creature which Mary does not desire. At worst, it is idolatry which Mary hates.

          3. Purgatory is set after death.

          Following the unscriptural dictates of a religion justly compared to the Great Whore of Babylon, Dante tries to breathe some life into the teaching of a second chance after death. But this can be dealt with easily if the reader will simply imagine the lines of Purgatory addressing the Christian in his life on earth.

          Disregarding Jesus and praying to a creature are serious errors, but the vibrant portrayal of eternal realities are so avoided by the human heart and lacking in modern literature that I recommend you to read Dante.

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          How Psalms Differs from Other Books

          This year as a church, we are reading and rereading the Psalms. How does this book differ from the other 65 inspired books of the canon? What words are used over and over? In the list below, I have only recorded one term, but my Logos searches included related terms in Hebrew and English. This list includes only words used over 100 times and found throughout the book rather than in one kind of psalm alone such as lament or praise.

          “Yes,” you may say, “but there are 150 psalms so we should expect more usages in this large book.”

          I only include here terms that are used overwhelmingly more in psalms than any other place in either OT or NT. Also, Psalms has 30,147 Hebrew words whereas Jeremiah has 33,002, Genesis 32,046, and Ezekiel 29,918 (counts by Logos). So at least three other books are very similar in length.

          1. Enemy. More than 100 occurrences. Far more in Psalms than any other book.
          2. Joy and rejoice. More than 100 occurrences. Far more in Psalms than any other book.
          3. Lovingkindness (Mercy KJV; Hesed Heb). More than 120. Far more in Psalms than any other book.
          4. Sing. More than 160 occurrences including all forms of praise and exalt. Far more in Psalms than any other book.
          5. Save. More than 160 occurrences. Far more in Psalms than any other book.
          6. “O Lord”, “O God”, You, Your, Yours (capitalized for deity). Just under 2,000 occurrences. Far more in Psalms than any other book.
          7. I, me, my, mine. More than 2,000 occurrences. Far more in Psalms than any other book. References to deity excluded.

          Other terms were used frequently, but not over 100 times, or they were commonly found in other books.

          1. Anger. 50 times. Also found in the prophets.
          2. Trust, believe. More than 60 occurrences, only surpassed by the Gospel of John. Far more in Psalms than any other book of the OT, but found commonly in many NT books.
          3. Fear. 70 times. Also found in Proverbs.
          4. Wicked. 80 times. Also found in Proverbs.
          5. Bless. 100 times. Also found in the Pentateuch.
          6. Nations. 100 times. Also found in the prophets.

          We think of psalms as a songbook, but perhaps it is more accurate to think of it as a prayer book. If you, like I, feel particularly weak in the art and discipline of prayer, and long to see more answered prayers, perhaps we should study this book written largely in the first person to God Himself about enemies, mercy, and salvation. Perhaps then we would learn to sing in private and corporate prayer like David.

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          Books I Read in 2022

          This list is also available in GoodReads.


          • Book of the Year: John Wesley, Journals of John Wesley
          • Surprise of the Year: Daniel Gordis, Israel
          • Worst of the Year: Machiavelli, The Prince


          0     The book was notable for lacking this category repeatedly.

          1     The book dipped into this category at times.

          2     The book consistently demonstrated this category.

          Non-Fiction Categories:

          • Weight: Did the book ask and answer the most germane questions about an important topic?
          • Research: Did the writer demonstrate a thorough command of the subject?
          • Style: Did the theme, vocabulary, and composition represent an enduring standard?
          • Logic: Did the book model logic in definitions, formatting, and focus?
          • Affections: Was some truth presented powerfully to the affections?
           NON-FICTION: Annotated BibliographyWRSLAScore
           Lewis, C. S. The Four Loves. 1960, 192 pages. Love in its several forms must be carefully inspected in order to live with others and worship God. He sees three different categories of love: Need, gift, and appreciation that can be applied to the four loves: Affection, friendship, eros, and charity.112228
           Gordis, Daniel. Israel. 2016, 546 pages. A history of the birth of the modern Jewish state from approximately 1880-2010. Audio, twice.122229
           Murray, Iain. Wesley and Men Who Followed. 2003. 272 pages. The power of God came on Wesley and men like him as they practiced denial of the flesh and devotion to Scripture. Reading it with Wesley’s Journals.2222210
           Wesley, John. The Journal of John Wesley. Reprinted by Moody. 1731-1791. 419 pages. A 50 year record of constant evangelism and churchplanting. Inspiring for its consistency, character, and courage, but repetitious.122229
           Roberts, Maurice. The Thought of God. 1993. 232 pages. 30 insightful articles with lively use of Scripture, history, and application.122229
           Smith, Ralph. Paradox and Truth: Rethinking Van Til on the Trinity. 2002. 143 pages. Author’s point: Van Til controlled his Trinitarian logical conclusions with the presupposition of transcendence when he should have chosen “covenant” as the guiding presupposition.221117
           Mathison, Keith. Postmillennialism. Author’s point: Since PM is supported by exegesis, theology, and history, it is the best eschatological system. On important passages, his interpretations separate the word from its meaning repeatedly. E.g. Matt. 24:29-31; Luke 13:24; 2 Tim. 3:1; etc.122106
           Cook, Faith. Singing in the Fire. 1998. 203 pages. Short stories of suffering Christians, many lesser known. Because so many of the best have suffered in the past and are now fully recompensed in the light of history and with God in Heaven, let us be strong in our hardships.121217
           Beechick, Ruth. Adam and His Kin. 1990. 176 pages. A history of the first 2,000 years of the world. Early men were advanced and civilized, but they also rejected God and His prophets.121206
           Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit. 2014. 383 pages. Since habits heavily affect and sometimes control our lives, we should give careful attention to the fascinating study of how they are formed.222118
           Ortlund, Dane. Gentle and Lowly. 2020. 224 pages. Discouraged, frustrated, weary, disenchanted, cynical, and empty people who believe they are Christians (p. 13) may rest on Jesus because His gentle heart for sinners is the most important aspect of His character for them to think about. Important categories of verses left out of his counsel to such people.121015
           Philbrick, Nate. In the Heart of the Sea. 2010?. 240 pages. 21 men set out to make a fortune hunting whales in 1819, but they shock the world when a whale attacks their boat and forces them to live for three months on rafts. Fascinating story with a few rubbish lines thrown in.221218
           Scougal, Henry. The Life of God in the Soul of Man. Letters to a young pastor’s supporter on how to be a true Christian—lively, short, and cutting.2222210
           Weir, Alison. The Six Wives of Henry the VIII. 1992. 643 pages. In his search for a male heir, Henry ruined the lives of 6 women. Audio.222208
           Clear, James. Atomic Habits. 2018. 320 pages. Four simple strategies can allow you to remake your life by changing your habits. References to Buddhist thinking throughout. Leans heavily on Duhigg. Very practical.112105
           McCullough, David. Pioneers. 2020. 352 pages. The story of Ohio’s founding is a hero’s tale of common Puritans like Ephraim Cutler.122218
           Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. 1514?. 114 pages. Power is a good that a political leader must strive for even if it requires him to lie, cheat, or kill. He did not research the Bible in his writing. Pragmatic and influential because men have always loved the pride that comes from power.101103
           Herbert, George. The Temple. Collected poems. 2nd time reading. Better than the first.2222210
           Wells, Paul, ed. Various authors. A Covenantal Vision for Global Mission. 2020. 355 pages. Authors’ point: All the good the church has done over the centuries throughout the world can be traced back to Covenant Theology in one way or another. The footnotes are more important to this work than the Scripture references making the entire collection of essays a demonstration of confirmation bias. Two exciting stories from church history, but neither convincingly sprang from CT. 111104
           Mbewe, Conrad. God’s Design for the Church. 2020. 281 pages. A faithful introduction to the most important theological and practical questions facing the church, but the author does not treat false Christianity with NT firmness. He should have raised the question of whether the religion of southern Africa is in fact Christian, rather than assuming it is.121217
           Johnson, Andy. Missions. 2017. 125 pages. While he included many good comments and faithful statements, he should have emphasized church planting more as well as the total depravity which has degraded the nations to whom we go.211217
           Brooks, Arthur. Gross National Happiness. 2008. 277 pages. The people—specifically American Christians—who work hard, give money, have a family, and go to church are significantly happier than those who don’t.221218
           Boston, Thomas. The Art of Man-Fishing. 96 pages. A stirring, practical call to evangelism and faithfulness in ministry. Not as lively as Baxter’s Reformed Pastor or Call to the Unconverted, but still gripping and helpful.112228
           Trueman, Carl. Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. 2020. 425 pages. Argument: Today’s moral insanity is the fruit of the philosophical movements of men like Rousseau, Marx, Freud, and Marcuse. Evaluation: Too wordy, no Scripture, and neglected the roles of technology, wealth, and globalization. Further, the subject is so vile, it is a pain to holiness even to trudge through such filth. Yet as an historical reflection on these evil men, it is interesting and perhaps necessary.111227


          0     The book was notable for lacking this category repeatedly.

          1     The book dipped into this category at times.

          2     The book consistently demonstrated this category.

          Fiction Categories:

          • Biblical: Did the author honor Scriptural truth or a Christian worldview even if unwittingly?
          • Creative: Did the author grip the imagination by inventing characters, situations, or other aspects of reality?
          • Style: Did the theme, vocabulary, and composition represent an enduring standard?
          • Credible: Were the characters, plot turns, and relationships believable?
          • Affections: Was some truth presented powerfully to the affections?
           FICTION: Annotated BibliographyBCSCAScore
           Dante. The Divine Comedy. The horror of hell, the pressure of perseverance, and the beauty of paradise all quickened by rhyme and metaphor. Dante puts many popes in hell and rebukes the corrupt constantly. It is both terrifying and amazing, threatening and beautiful that an eternity of divine wrath or glory awaits us after this testing time. Read with Amy122229
           Lewis. Out of the Silent Planet. Read with Amy122218
           Lewis. Perelandra. Read with Amy and kids2222210
           Tolkien. Lord of the Rings. Read with Amy and kids2222210
          Posted in Book reviews | Leave a comment

          David Jones and The Madagascar Mission

          Very few have heard of one of the most fascinating and thrilling chapters in church history where marvels came to pass in the mysterious island of Madagascar.

          The Mission to Madagascar

          1. 1816 In a small college in South Wales, Thomas Philips asked his students who would go to Madagascar.
          2. As students, David Jones (1797-), 19 years old, and his friend Thomas Bevan, 21 years old, stood up together.
          3. This is 24 years since William Carey left.
          4. 1818 As they finished their studies and found wives who were willing to go, they left Wales at 21 and 23 years old.
          5. The boat ride itself was 7 months long.
          6. 1818 Within five months of arriving, David Jones’ young wife whose name is not even recorded passed away with her new baby.
          7. At the same time, David becomes desperately sick.
          8. 1819 Thomas Bevan, his wife, and their new baby arrive in time to find the young wife and her child dead with their teammate very ill.
          9. 31 January, Thomas died. 3 February, his wife and child, leaving David Jones on death’s door as the last remaining member of the team.
          10. They suspected poison perhaps from the slave traders who had threatened the missionaries.
          11. Consider the scenario:
            1. A 21 year old man leaves with his wife, best friend, and his wife.
            1. For 7 months they are on the boat traveling.
            1. Within 6 months of arriving, 5 have died.
            1. David crawls to a boat by which he is able to return to Maritius, 1,000 k’s away.

          The land of Madagascar

          1. It is called a part of Africa, but it is completely different.
          2. The people have facial features more like the Indian sub-continent.
          3. They speak one language over the whole island, and it is not in the Bantu family.
          4. Elephants and lions are not found there, and they have no venomous snakes!
          5. The plant and bird life is largely unknown anywhere else on the planet.
          6. 1810 The ruler Radama sells his own people into slavery, but the British compel him to stop the slave trade in 1820.
          7. They feared a god they called the “Enduring Prince”, and every house had idols.
          8. Most of the people were very poor with a reputation for constant lying.
          9. Unlucky days are days the spirits have declared work to be taboo. Breaking this taboo meant death.
          10. Children born on unlucky days were left at the entrance of the cattle yard to be trampled. If the cattle miss the babies, they could live.
          11. Criminals were put to death based on the “Tangena Test.”
            1. The suspect must eat a bowl of rice.
            1. Then he drinks juice made from a nut and banana.
            1. Then he eats 3 pieces of skin from a bird.
            1. Then the witch doctor curses him.
            1. Then he drinks warm water.
            1. If he vomits the pieces from the bird, he is declared innocent regardless of evidence for or against him.
            1. If he does not vomit, he is put to death.
          12. They spoke a language, but no one could write or read Malagasy.

          David Jones returns

          1. 1820 At 23 years old, having lost his wife, child, and teammates 2 years earlier, Jones returns to Madagascar.
          2. Immediately, he started a school with only 3 pupils teaching them to read.
          3. 6 months after the school opened, he is joined by a friend from Wales, David Griffiths and then another David Jones—3 David’s!
          4. 1820 Jones translates the book of John into Malagasy!
          5. While less than 24 years old, bereaved, and alone, Jones single-handedly reduced the Malagasy language to writing so that all future people could read the Bible.
          6. The team of missionaries slowly grows as more come and more die.
          7. 1824 King Radama allowed the missionaries to open a school in his house.
          8. Soona network of schools was started so that people could learn to read the Bible.
          9. 1825 The first edition of the NT is finished!
          10. 1826 A printing press arrived, and they began printing portions of the Bible that had been translated.
          11. 1828 The whole Bible is translated and revised twice.
          12. 1828 From the beginning with three children, 32 schools with 4,000 pupils were teaching reading and Bible.
          13. While beginning schools, the missionaries began preaching points which at first were ignored.
          14. The people were so sinful that when they heard about the demands of Jesus Christ, they quickly gave up any interest.
          15. On top of teaching reading and Christianity, the schools also taught carpentry, building, and other trades.
          16. King Radama was thrilled with the development that Christianity was bringing to his people.
          17. 1828 But he died at only 36 years old having been a constant friend to the missionaries.
          18. Though he never laid hold of Christ, God used this king
            1. to sign a policy with the British ending the slave trade,
            1. to end infanticide, and
            1. to expose the witch doctors for their foolishness.

          An evil queen

          1. 1828 When David Jones was 31, having worked there for 9 years, a new queen took power, Ranavalona.
          2. She had been the wife of Radama, but she conspired to murder the rightful king, 17-year old, Rakotobe.
          3. Demons controlled this woman who dressed in fashions from Paris, but hated Christianity.
          4. Loving idols and hating reading, she determined to crush any who opposed her.
          5. By deception she arranged for the murder of King Radama’s family.
          6. “She vacillated a great deal, forbidding one day what she permitted the next.” Page 41
          7. Since she closed the schools, the missionaries devoted themselves to translation and printing.
          8. 1828 The government decided that their people did not need schools anymore since the people knew how to read.
          9. In desperation to stay long enough to finish the Bible translation, the missionaries devised a plan to make their presence attractive to the queen.
          10. James Cameron asked for 7 days to learn how to make soap which means of production he would then teach in the schools.
          11. He scoured chemistry books and experimented with woods, ash, fats, and oils.
          12. At the end of 7 days, he presented 2 small bars of soap to the government officials.
          13. “It was largely to the production of these two little bars of soap that the missionaries were allowed to continue their work for several years longer, and to lay deep and firm the foundations of the Malagasy church.” James Sibree, The Madagascar Mission, quoted on page 42.
          14. 1831 12 years after arriving, they baptized 28 people!
          15. A witch doctor named Rainitsiheva had grown wealthy through witchcraft.
          16. At his baptism, he burnt his items of witchcraft, joined the students in the school, and asked to have his name changed to Paul.
          17. 1831 The queen refused the privilege of reading to slaves and banned communion and baptism from some citizens.
          18. 1831 David Jones who had lost his wife and child becomes deadly sick again.
          19. Jones left the country to recover, and died at 44 years old in Mauritius trying to return to Madgascar.
          20. 1832 A government official who opposed Christianity, is converted. But too quickly he began preaching a mixed gospel of idols and Christ.
          21. 1834 The church is 3 years old, the queen has been ruling for 6 years, and now some of the missionaries are expelled.
          22. During this time, the school rooms which were used on Sunday for preaching, were filled on the Lord’s Day, often with people standing outside.
          23. 1834 200 applied for the new members’ class.

          Persecution grows

          1. 1835 The queen orders spies to search out the “evil” of the Christians.
          2. These spies made up terrible and silly stories which angered the queen.
          3. So the queen ordered a list of all the houses which believed this teaching.
          4. The royal counselors gave bad testimonies about the Christians.
          5. But one said the Christians were faithful, honest, and hardworking without lying, laziness, or stealing.
          6. 1835 On the 1st of March, baptism, Sunday meetings, and church membership are banned because of the spirits.
          7. The queen gathered a national meeting of men, women, children, and infants.
          8. They were given 7 days to confess and repent of following the new religion.
          9. Whoever did not confess or whoever was informed on before he confessed would be killed.
          10. Many school teachers and others who had received benefits from the mission confessed and left the church.
          11. The missionaries were greatly discouraged to see so many leaving the faith.
          12. A government official mocked the people who ran out of breath to avoid death after singing a hymn that he had heard from them, “I have no fear of death, for Jesus is ever nigh.”
          13. This government worker said he did not think there was one true Christian in the country apart from the Europeans.
          14. But many still persevered meeting with the missionaries in the middle of the night.
          15. Some met privately when no one else could tell the government.
          16. An army general became a Christian when he saw this injustice, and then his wife followed her brave husband though it might mean death.
          17. 1835 9 March, Christianity is banned in every way. Those who have any portion of the Bible or who pray to the Christian God will be put to death.
          18. Most of the missionaries had been ejected, now only 2 remained, but they were not allowed to see any of the Christians.
          19. Without any preaching or churches meeting, the 2 remaining men tried desperately to finish the third revision of the OT and Pilgrim’s Progress.
          20. 1836 Finally, the entire Bible was revised and 70 copies were left with the few hundred believers in Madgascar.
          21. They buried extra copies so that the government would not find them.
          22. With this last gasp, the missionaries left the country as the demons working through the government attempted to destroy Christianity.
          23. 1836 The Malagasy Christians are forced to lean on Scripture, prayer, and secret meetings.
          24. The missionaries said that they commonly asked one another when they met, “Are you praying?”

          Believers who suffered

          1. 1837 Rasalama, a young woman and new Christian, was speared to death by the government.
          2. Those who killed were heard saying, “There is surely some charm in the religion of the Christians which takes away the fear of death.”
          3. A large crowd watched her murder including a 22-year old named Rafaralahy.
          4. He quietly went home and began inviting Christians to meet at his house.
          5. Upon his arrest he refused to recant or give the names of other Christians. His body was speared while his Christian wife hid at home.
          6. His wife was arrested and tortured though not giving up the faith.
          7. Two slaves had to flee for their lives, but first they arranged all the financial matters for their unconverted masters so that no one could say they had lied or stolen.
          8. Rafaravavy, a Christian woman who had been sold into slavery wrote to one of the missionaries,

          “Health and happiness to you, beloved friend. … I rejoice that [the persecution] has happened to me. It brings to my remembrance Acts 14:22 and 2 Timothy 3:12. … May he enable me to obey the words of Jesus to his disciples, ‘If anyone will come after me, let hi deny himself,’ None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself that I might finish my course with joy. I exhort you not to grieve, for your labor has not been in vain in the Lord. The number of converts is increasing. … The power of God cannot be hindered. … Pray for us—May God open a door for his Word among us, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2.”

          • This same woman was in a house when soldiers approached.
          • Hiding under a bed wrapped in a mat, Rafaravavy waited nearly an hour while the soldiers searched the house.
          • When questioned about her, the other people said, “Which Rafaravavy do you mean?” rather than lie.
          • Ranivo was a beautiful 16 year old girl who became a believer from reading a tract even though Christianity then meant a death sentence.
          • Since she was from the house of the kings, they threatened her with death to make her recant, but she would not turn.
          • From that time period was found a Malagasy Bible very worn and rubbed on its pages from use.
          • During this time, 117 were sent to a life of slavery
          • A pregnant woman delivered her baby the morning she was to be burnt so they threw the baby in before she expired.
          • Malagasy unbelievers who watched said, “The believers prayed as long as they had any life. Then they died. But softly, gently. … And astonished were all the people around that beheld the burning of them there.”


          1. 1849 A man named Andriambelo is converted though he had never met any of the missionaries.
          2. The story of his life sounds like the book of Acts—preaching constantly.
          3. Traveling on Saturday night, preaching in small house churches in village after village, and escaping death by narrow misses everywhere.
          4. 1861 The queen Ranavalona dies and though they hunted for Andriambelo, he survived!
          5. 1862 He is chosen to be the pastor of the largest church.
          6. He baptized nearly 1,000 people refusing to take a salary.
          7. 1904 Andriambleo dies having served the Lord for over 50 years.

          Lessons learned from the Church in Madagascar

          1. Their faith was their own, not merely borrowed from missionaries or squeezed into them by convenience.
          2. The missionaries cared for the souls of men and the glory of God not money or comfort or life.
          3. The Holy Spirit can build with a Bible alone a few believers into an enduring body of Christians.
          4. We should expect both growth and persecution.
            1. They endured 26 years of persecution.
            1. They saw thousands converted.
            1. But still the great majority were lost.


          Smith, Graeme. Triumph in Death, Evangelical Press, 1994.

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          Why should My Children Have a Christian Education?

          At all costs, your little ones must have a Christian Education.

          4 Reasons Education must be decidedly Christian.

          First, the realities of life demand Christian Education.

          1. If the Bible is true,
          2. If Jehovah has a Son,
          3. If Jesus Christ is the King,
          4. If our world is full of sin and misery and confusion and lies,
          5. If death is coming for everyone,
          6. If there is a final day of judgment,
          7. If there is a Lake of Fire,
          8. If the Book of Life is in Heaven,
          9. If the words of this Book have the way to salvation,
          10. And if our children have souls that will never die,
          11. Then our children must be trained for these things, and this is called Christian Education.

          Second, the soul of your child will live forever either in Heaven or in Hell. The goal of education could be phrased as forming the soul of a child. The formation of the soul is an act of religion.

          Third, the immense cost and resources of education are a stewardship that no Christian can make without being guided by Scripture. 20% of South Africa’s budget is spent on education—R360 billion for one year.

          Fourth, false teachers and fools are uniquely attracted to the education field.

          • Science: Evolution “millions of years…”
          • Economics and history: Marxism “The story of the world is the rich against the poor…”
          • History and geography: Multiculturalism “All cultures are beautiful.”

          7 Benefits of a Christian education

          1. Your child can find his way to Heaven and eternal happiness.
          2. Your child can discover truth about God who is the Fountain of everything good.
          3. Your child can prepare for a happy family life in the future.
          4. Your child can be vaccinated against many false doctrines.
          5. Your child can connect everything in the world.
          6. Your child can protect himself from backsliding.
          7. Your child can lay the foundation for generational godliness.

          4 Methods to Obtain a Christian Education

          1. Family: Through a true Christian home.

          “Fathers, bring them up…” (Eph. 6:4). In the Bible, the Fathers are consistently told to train their own children. See also, Psalm 78:5; Deut. 4:9; 1 Cor. 14:34.

          Mothers: “so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.…” Titus 1:4-5

          The Christian home has:

          • One man who works hard.
          • He loves one woman.
          • He is the head of his home.
          • He serves the family with humility and joy.
          • One woman who builds up her home.
          • She devotes herself to her husband and children.
          • They read the Bible and pray each night.
          • They talk to each other about the most important things.

          We have lost the Christian home!

          2. Classical Education: By learning to use our minds the way God intends us to use our minds.

          Children must learn the laws of words (Grammar).

          Children must learn the laws of thoughts (Logic).

          Children must learn the laws of speech (Rhetoric).

          3. Books: By learning to read the best of books.

          First, all children must be educated to read the best book, the Bible.

          Second, children must be educated to follow the Great Conversation. This is the collection of the best books over the past 3,000 years.

          4. Character: By forming the soul to virtue

          Honesty not lying

          Hard work not laziness

          Kindness not selfishness

          Submission not willfulness

          Perseverance not weakness

          Happiness not sullen

          Fathers must make sure they use these methods. It is possible to delegate this to a school. It is possible to handle this in the home. It is possible that the church can help. But however you situation works, your children must be trained like Christians.

          If your little baby grew up and went to prison at 22 for murder, how much would you pay to turn back the time and change him? If you heard the screams of your child as angels took him to the door of Hell, how much would you pay to go back and teach him? How much would you pay for your child’s soul?

          For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26

          Miseve Classical School was formed for your child to have all these benefits. You could not pay enough to get these things. But by grace, your little village and your little child have been given the chance to grasp a Christian Education.

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          A Review of the Advertising Copy of Women and the Gender of God

          Eerdman’s has decided to publish a book in October 2022 which if it accurately delivers what it promises in its advertising copy will immediately serve feminism and multiculturalism while laying the groundwork for further false teachers to promote sodomy and transgenderism.

          Here are the words they are using to sell the book with some comments added.

          The first line:

          A robust theological argument against the assumption that God is male.

          God is masculine. That is no mere assumption, but the declaration of any one who can read grammar. In Hebrew, the word “God” is masculine from the first verse of Genesis. God’s final act of creation was “man” not persons because Adam stood for Eve before they were even dignified with names. “He” is used exclusively throughout the entire Bible to describe God or any of the divine persons because the Holy Spirit wanted to use “He” and never “she.” God has chosen His pronouns as “He”, “Him”, and “Us.”

          There are no robust arguments against God’s Word. And God’s revelation is never merely an assumption. Wrong on both parts of this subtitle.

          God values women.

          While many Christians would readily affirm this truth, the widely held assumption that the Bible depicts a male God persists—as it has for centuries.

          First, the author might have skipped a couple sessions in her gender studies class and tried to catch up on basic logic. Or perhaps Eerdman’s thinks its readers can’t spot a false dilemma. But as the copy reminds us, “many Christians” have readily affirmed “for centuries” that the church has taught both that God values women and that God is masculine. If their advertising reflects the content, then we should expect logical fallacies like false dilemmas and begging the question (3rd paragraph, “God is never sexualized by biblical writers…”) along with other related fallacies.

          Second, the author is opposing the way all exegetes of any note from the early church, the Reformation, the Puritans, the Missionary movement, and the Methodist revivals have always understood the Bible until 1950 or so. But what is a little thing like thousands of years of church tradition which lines up with the clear statement of Scripture when we have a politically correct, Satanic, ideology to promote?

          Through a deep reading of the incarnation narratives of the New Testament and other relevant scriptural texts, Amy Peeler shows how the Bible depicts a God beyond gender and a savior who, while embodied as a man, is the unification in one person of the image of God that resides in both male and female. 

          The argument comes from a “deep reading” and it “goes beneath the surface” (3rd paragraph) to attack “the destructive idolatry of masculinity.” In the reviews it is called daring, controversial, and a work that dismantles the patriarchy. These are some of the terms—along with others in this brief collection of oozing words—that smell like people who see errors in Scripture, prefer churches with topical homilies rather than verse by verse teaching, and are in lock step with the Cultural Marxists permeating evangelicalism. The Biblical truth has been firmly believed for centuries as the first paragraph states, but another review writes that the Bible’s plain teaching which has been held up by the entire church is “absurd.”

          The table of contents reveals that the author is trying desperately to disconnect masculinity from its clear source in the Godhead: Chapter 1 “The Father Who is Not Male” and chapter 4 “God is Not Masculine.” If someone hated Biblical manhood, if he wanted to overthrow male headship, if he despised Paul’s words in 1 Tim. 2:11-15, if he secretly loved feminism, and if he also wanted to infiltrate the church, these are the kinds of words he would use.

          Seven reviewers are included below, but Eerdmans thought it best not to let John MacArthur or Voddie Baucham or Doug Wilson have a say. “What do these men know? They have only taught the Bible, and evangelized sinners, and led local churches where angels gathered to watch every seven days. Let us put up reviewers who sit in the chairs of the academy! The altered state we feel when PhD’s praise us is our wine of choice.” Were the 6 out of 7 reviewer women chosen because they have raised godly children and persevered in faith, love, and holiness (1 Tim. 2:15) or because they have done such a superlative job keeping the home (Tit. 2:5)? They would be insulted if they even read this paragraph, and yet the Holy Spirit says those are the marks of great women. These kinds of people do not like those kinds of words.

          And that is why it is hard to imagine Peeler or the reviewers or the publishers as members in John Bunyan’s church or Spurgeon’s or Wesley’s or Lloyd-Jones’ or any God-fearing assembly that breathes after the fear of God and revival.

          The advertising copy and the reviews make this work look like another man-hating, feminist-promoting, CNN-approved attempt to distance the church from the word of Scripture and its historic faith. Charles Templeton, Joshua Harris, and Abraham Piper will probably see this book as a step in the right direction.

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          26 Ways to Pray for a Teachable Spirit

          Each month this year, we have been praying a different Biblical prayer each day. For September, we are praying Job 34:32, “Teach me what I do not see…” Here are 26 categories, nearly one for each day of the month, to guide us in our prayers.

          1.    Show me the sins of my habits or personality. 

          2.    Show me the sins of my youth. 

          3.    Show me the sins of my speech. 

          4.    Show me the sins of my foolish judgments. 

          5.    Show me the sins of my thoughts. 

          6.    Show me the sins of my worship. 

          7.    Show me the sins that I rationalize and for which I make excuses. 

          8.    Show me the sins of my money. 

          9.    Show me my sins of omission.

          10. Show me the sins of my relationships

          11. Show me the sins of my church. 

          12. Show me the sins that I have barely avoided. 

          13. Show me my sins of ignorance. 

          14. Show me my sins of presumption. 

          15. Show me the consequences that I am enduring right now because of my previous wickedness. 

          16. Show me the evil of Satan’s nature and devices.

          17. Show me the importance of the prayers of Paul. 

          18. Show me the meaning of God’s Words.

          19. Show me the importance of the church. 

          20. Show me the happiness of Heaven.

          21. Show me the horror of Hell. 

          22. Show me the beauty of Christ. 

          23. Show me the glory of God. 

          24. Show me the people whom I can talk to and the way to talk to them so they will come to the Savior.

          25. Show me the way to pray and the weaknesses of my own prayers. 

          26. Show me the love of God for me and His willingness to answer prayers.

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          Missions is the Most Heroic Effort to Save Lives: The Doctrine of Murder 5

          1. The murder of a soul is the worst of all deaths.

          Duration: The second death, or the death of a soul endures for eternity (Matt. 16:26). The duration of this death is longer than the previous death.

          The second death places a man without under the wrath of God without the dilution that he currently experiences right now with all of God’s common grace.

          2. The great majority of souls in the world are subject to this worst of all deaths.

          Satan is a murderer from the beginning and the god of this world who comes to kill and destroy.

          But men themselves are guilty of self-destruction or eternal self-murder because they all know God in the most basic way (Rom. 1:21).

          3. Evangelism is specifically designed to save men from this death.

          Since soul murder is so evil and so common. Then evangelism is therefore, uniquely glorious.

          4. But missions is an even greater demonstration of love and pity than evangelism in your local church.

          Three reasons that missions is greater than evangelism in your local church or society.

          First, missions requires the crossing of a culture into a new language and new geography. Missions generally entails the loss of family and the loss of that way of life which has become dear to you.

          Second, missions requires a great amount of time. Saving men from the tragedy of soul murder cannot be done in today’s society in short term bursts.

          William Carey, missionary to India in 1793—6 years before a convert.

          Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma in 1813—6 years before a convert

          We have found that it usually takes 2 years before we see a convert. And that seems to be what other missionaries say so that we can conclude that in most fields of the world, missions requires an entire life.

          Third, Missions takes place among people groups who have less light.

          Peter says that the pagans have a useless way of life (1 Pet. 1:18). Cultures without God are “brutish” foolish, and vain (Jer. 10:3, 8). These are the people who bind the feet of little girls—China. These are the people who murder twins at birth—Tsongas. These are the people who call their women dogs—Burmese. These are the people who burn their widows—Indians. These are the people who beat their wives. These are the people who have no (or nearly no) inventions or initiative. Demonic religion reduces men to the most pitiable state which makes their societies very difficult to live in or work among.

          Many of those who are subject to this eternal death have very little potential to hear the gospel. They may not have Bibles in their language. They may have Bibles, but no skill or desire to read. They may have skill to read, but no preachers. They may have skill and preachers (online or radio), but no churches.

          The lost who have no self-replicating churches in their culture to reduce their terrible darkness and soften the horror of sin are objects of the pity of all Christians far more than a murder victim. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit that has a direct missionary application. Christ is full of affection and compassion (Phil. 2:1). Jude tells us to save men with compassion, pulling them out of the fire (Jude 22-23). Ezekiel tells us that we must be faithful watchmen or have blood on our hands.

          Since we know that we have an eternity of joy in front of us, how cold and hard and selfish must be that man who thinks very little of those he might reach.

          And this is the ultimate end of murder. Soul murder reduces a man to the Lake of Fire. And missions would save the most pitiable from that eternal destruction.

          Posted in Hermeneutics, Missions, Pastoral | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

          Killing is a Common Sin: The Doctrine of Murder 4

          Who thinks they have murdered? The percentage of people is large who will admit to lying. But almost no one thinks they have either done this or are seriously tempted with it. This is, however, a very common sin first in the world and then by average men.

          5 ways the world commonly commits the sin of murder

          1. Anger: Jesus connected anger to murder in the first sermon He ever preached (Matt. 5:21-22).

          2. War: If a war is unjust, then it is the largest theater for the sin of murder.

          3. Homicide: The law recognizes 3 or more senses in which a man may be involved in actually killing someone else.

          4. Abortion: By protecting and promoting this sin, the world protects and pays for murder.

          5. Indifference to the punishment of murder: We take part in the sin of murder by not hating it and wishing for its just punishment in society (Pro. 24:11-12).

          3 senses in which most men are guilty of murder

          1. We have all been angry. Anger is the root of murder. Therefore, we have all taken part in murder through our unjust anger.

          2. We have all sinned which is the reason the Father crushed the Son in death (Is. 53:4-6).

          3. We have all done less than we should have to save those who have been delivered to death (Pro. 24:11-12). Have we actively done our part to end abortion? Have we been consistent in evangelism?

          When God saves us, He is saving very bad men because He is saving those who deserve death.

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